You Can't Run From Your Problems
One of the many things I'm not very good at is being able to reflect on what a particular challenge or obstacle in my life is trying to teach me... at the moment that it's happening.
To be fair to me, I have gotten much better over time at being able to gather insight and learning after I've had to face a challenge. And there are also rare moments when I'm able to be non-anxious and open to learning in the face of difficulty.
But, like a lot of us, when I'm dealing with something trying and troublesome, I mostly just want it to go away. Or I take it upon myself to solve the problem by going away on my own----which looks a lot like checking out, leaving, running, or hiding.
I was reading from Pema Chodron's excellent book entitled When Things Fall Apart, and I came across this bit of wisdom:
Maybe the only enemy is that we don't like the way reality is now and therefore wish it would go away fast. But what we find as practitioners is that nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.
I'm still learning how to internalize the truth of what Chodron is saying here. It's one of those things that seems great to share with other people, but more challenging to embrace for oneself.
Because running, hiding, withdrawing from a challenge doesn't help, as Chodron so aptly puts it:
If we run a hundred miles an hour to the other end of the continent in order to get away from the obstacle, we find the very same problem waiting for us when we arrive.
You could also say "the very same people" are waiting for us as well. They might be in different forms or faces, to be sure. But if we're trying to escape particularly challenging people, we won't be able to, really---not until we learn what they have to teach us.
The good news is that we're not alone in any of this. God is with us in these moments, never leaving our side, never shrinking from the challenge before us.
The even better news is that no matter how hard we try to run from all of it, God never lets us out of God's sight.
The Psalmist declares this when he proclaims to God, "Where could I possibly go to escape your presence? Even if I went to the depths of despair and death, you would find me."
So even though we might discover our problems or a new set of "problem people" at the end of our attempts to escape them, we also discover that God is already there, waiting for us.
And if we are willing to be sustained by this knowledge, and let God's grace fall upon us anew, we will discover the patience, courage, and peace to be taught.
May this be so for you today and every day from this day. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.