I’ll admit it. I’m a serial leaver.
When situations seem out of my control, I like to slowly retreat then checkout. I like to leave.
You see I like the feeling of starting over. When I was younger, I played a lot of Pokémon. I would restart the game each time my starter wasn’t a girl. Similarly, feeling hurt gives me the urge to press that reset button.
At first, it feels liberating. Leaving erases that storyline and every future variable that most likely wouldn’t go my way.
But the things we leave behind when we’re trying to escape rarely ever leave us. We return to places, to people and to experiences – by accident or on purpose – and we have ruins. Or, skeletons of where memories now live.
It’s not always a bad thing. It could be leaving your hometown, and returning a few years later to find the schools have improved and construction that plagued the roads that you learned how to drive on is now complete.
You can build on ruins, move forward from ruins, or live in ruins.
Honestly understanding the difference between leaving to escape and leaving to move forward, and then choosing which direction you move in is the defining factor in how we regard ruins and leaving.
Scripture speaks a lot about facing forward:
“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forward, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. “ Isaiah 43: 18-19
“Strip yourselves of your former nature … And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude].” Ephesians 4: 22-24
When we face forward, we move forward into healing, celebration and new seasons. But serial leaving often creates collateral damage, buried hurt and ruins that cling to us.
The Lord is still teaching me a lot about this difference, and how to let go without running away. And it’s an adventure.