I had been running all my life. No, not THAT kind of running, but the proverbial, leave the scene and get out of Dodge running that defines cowards.
The first time I actually ran away from my life was in high school.
The phone calls to family members explaining my one day shenanigans stopped an early career in joining the Circus like my distant great aunt and planted my feet firmly on the ground. But something changed from that one day experience.
I realized that discontentment seeped into my soul and my taste of so-called "freedom" widened my desire to run away when I "grew up."
Almost ten years later I remember the day my thoughts of running away took a new turn.
I was on my bicycle, riding along a path next to a river led by concrete outlines, surrounded by huge boulders and an expansive and wide, blue sky. I was single and getting a good college education. I had clothes on my back, shoes on my feet, and food in my belly all from my very generous parents.
Yet my discontentment haunted me.
"Leave this town," it whispered. "Just jump into your car, get a job as a waitress under a different name and live off the cash you make."
Oh, the romantic thoughts of that let my mind wander down a dark, winding rabbit trail for a little while as I peddled my bike against the fading light of the impending sunset.
The practical side of me wondered about paying car registration, apartment rent, and gas bills without completing my degree.
Then, everything stopped in that moment, when I had one visual picture pop instantly into my mind.
The look of grief on my mother's face if I left.
Even though we were hundreds of miles apart, I just couldn't do it.
And I stopped that train of thought for good.
Or so I thought...
It was a few years into our marriage when I told Ryan about my desire to run away from my life because I hadn't really thought about it since that day in college. One day we were driving and I asked him if he wanted to see something cool.
He said, "Sure."
I just started driving. I told him it was what I did when I wanted to just "think" and get away for a while.
We went pretty far in silence, but then he started asking me about it.
I could tell my habit scared him.
And that scared me.
From that day on, I would self-reflect on why I would purposefully pass my exit in driving home in order to go further down the road. I would think about what I was thinking and then discuss it with Ryan when I arrived.
The years passed and I would still find myself driving further and further past our exit, only to turn around later, all in the name of having more thinking time.
And I realized that I was still running away.
But when Ryan got Cancer, I stopped running.
I was approaching my exit to go home and I realized how excited I was to see him after a Mom's night out.
Another time I was coming home from the grocery store with Talitha and I wanted to rush home to make dinner so I could be the proverbial housewife and reward my hard-working husband with a hot, home-cooked meal.
That day, I realized something:
I didn't want to pass my exit anymore.
I wanted to go home.
I looked forward to coming home to the life we have built together, the home we live in so comfortably and the fun we have as a family.
Paul says in the Bible that he "learned to be content" in all of the circumstances he faced and many of them were horrible experiences, to say the least.
Living with Cancer is an odd place to learn how to be content, but I can honestly say that I've become more content than I have ever been or ever thought I could be.
And now when I think about running away from my problems, I think about the prodigal son who, after all his money was spent and he was poor and pathetic, all he wanted to do was go home to his Father.
And his Father ran to greet him and celebrated his return.
So now, when I feel overwhelmed, I run, instead, to my Bible and pray about how to handle whatever life with Cancer throws at me. And I watch as my Heavenly Father runs towards me, and know I can tell him, unashamed of my failings, all that is in my heart.
And when He looks at me, puts His arms around me and rejoices at my return, I can remind myself that there's a much better place to run toward that isn't in this life, but in the life to come.