Growing up in a Christian home, I was taught to love and be kind to other people. I was also taught to be a fighter. Not with my physical strength like my brothers were, but with my determination. I was taught to never give up and to fight for what I wanted. This determination still serves me well, but there have been significant moments in my life when running away from the fight is what actually brought peace.
Before my son was born, my husband and I “birthed” a coffee shop. It was a dream we had that was becoming a nightmare. We were working non-stop. Up before the sun rose, and to bed long after the sun set. And instead of making money, we were going deeper and deeper into debt. But we were fighters. And to give up meant that we had failed. So we persevered, even after I became pregnant. Giving up the business never entered the conversation. It was simply not an option. Then I had a baby, along with postpartum depression. Thankfully, someone that loved me gave me permission to quit. It was an incredibly freeing moment. There was still a lengthy process to fully unload the business, but the weight started to lift at that moment.
For eight years my husband and I lived in Chicago. For many people this is a wonderful place to live and to even raise a family. For us it was very difficult. We never really felt that we fit there, and Lord knows we tried. We tried to invest there with church, friends, a house. And we were involved with church, and we did have wonderful friendships, and we did make our house a home. But I kept finding myself looking at the job ads in other cities. For so long I felt guilty about this. I felt that I should learn to be content with where I was, and that I should just accept that this was my life. Until I realized that maybe we weren’t suppose to stay there. Maybe I was discontented so that we wouldn’t stay. It wasn’t giving up. It was letting go.
Do I regret starting the business? No. I know that it was part of the journey I needed to walk. There were people we ministered to, and relationships that were developed that exist to this day. Do I regret living in Chicago? No. It was an intense, long season that taught me about people, myself, and how to be thankful. I was obedient in starting the business, and I was obedient to flee from it. We were obedient to go and live in Chicago, and we were obedient to flee from it.
During seasons where we are exhausted from fighting, it is easy to wonder whether or not God hears our pleas. Or perhaps wonder if He cares. Or even wonder if we are being punished for something. I do believe God hears, but He may not answer. And I absolutely believe He cares, but we are only privy to our small piece of His grand story and our times of struggle may actually not have anything to do with us, but rather someone else. And I’m not sure about the punishing, but I do know there are consequences to our actions that sometimes He gives us grace and spares us, and sometimes He doesn’t.
In the Bible, there are times that God called followers to stand and fight. In the book of First Samuel, chapter 17, we read about David and Goliath. We all know this story. Here is this young man, the baby of the family, going up against a massive, strong, arrogant warrior. David knows that he, in himself, does not have the strength to fight this man, but God does. He defeats Goliath and gives all glory to God! David was obedient to stand and fight.
There are also times in the Bible that God called followers to run and hide. In the book of Matthew, chapter 2, we read about Joseph being told by an angel to take Mary and young Jesus, and flee to Egypt because King Herod was setting out to destroy Jesus. They didn’t even take time to plan their trip. They just up and fled in the middle of the night. Couldn’t God have simply struck Herod down like Goliath? Certainly, but He didn’t. Joseph and Mary were obedient to run away.
If you find yourself in a destructive place that is suffocating your soul, it is alright to ask the Lord if you are meant to stand and fight, or run and hide. Maybe you are meant to fight in the name of the Lord, and glorify God through this battle. Or maybe you need to protect yourself, and/or your family, and run to a place of refuge. Even if it is just for a period of time to rest and recover.
Maybe you have just needed someone to give you permission. Permission granted.