l o v e . l i v e . t r a v e l. e a t. p r a i s e.
The night before I was leaving for a two week holiday on a long awaited cruise to Asia, I was using my drive home to mentally go over what I had already packed. The radio was on in my car, providing some background noise to my thoughts, but I wasn’t really taking notice of the specific songs which were being played. My mind started wandering from the contents of my suitcase to how much I couldn’t wait to leave the next day. I started going over the situations and people in my life I desperately wanted to get away from, or at least have a break from, and started dwelling on the things I didn’t like at home that had been getting me down recently. As an old tune which was all too familiar to me reached my ears, I put a stop to all my thoughts and focused on the radio.
Kelly Clarkson’s song ‘Break Away’ had started blaring out of my speakers. I used to listen to that song on repeat when I was younger, dreaming of doing just that—breaking away. I felt that I used to be able to relate to all of the lyrics in that song, and in that moment when I heard it again for the first time in years, I felt like I could relate to them now more than ever. I started singing along, as I usually do in the car, careful not to move my lips too much when pulled up at traffic lights in case anyone saw me and thought I was having a chat to myself. I hummed along, then once away from other cars, belted out the words, “Wanted to belong here, but something felt so wrong here, so I prayed, I could break away.” Yep, those lyrics spoke to me more loudly and clearly than they ever had. Knowing that I would be breaking away the very next day, instead of feeling sad as I used to when I listened to that song, I almost felt exhilarated by it. I was breaking away, I was escaping; even if it was only temporary, I was still getting out of here.
I arrived home and put the last few essentials into my suitcase. I still couldn’t stop going over the lyrics of that song in my mind. And that’s when it hit me. Literally breaking away wasn’t necessarily going to solve anything. It was a band-aid solution. Running away was only going to help temporarily, and probably make everything a little worse when I had to come back to it. I realised that maybe there were things in my life that I needed to break away from and make the choice to leave behind every day. I was in a strange, emotionally abusive relationship with a male friend, who had another love interest, which had been messing with my mind and making me feel terrible and used. Break away. I was stuck in the middle of a lying, gossiping, hurtful, high school drama with a friend I was really struggling to love. It was hard to forgive and move on when I felt like I was the only person wanting to do so, but I had to leave behind the resentment and bitterness. Break away. I started to realise that literally breaking away and escaping my reality wasn’t going to fix this stuff. I had to face it, and maybe instead of breaking away from the friends or people it was related to, I needed to break away from the damaging situations, and even break away from my bitter and negative feelings. With Jesus as my strength, I knew I had to break away from the things which were hindering my happiness, and therefore hindering my thankfulness and therefore hindering my relationship with God.
The next day I sailed away into the sunset, eager to be out in the middle of the ocean where my reality couldn’t touch me. I’m not going to deny it; it was absolutely amazing and I needed those two weeks to rest, take time out and actually spend some time with God. However, I was able to come home with a sense of peace and not look at my holiday as being a quick-fix escape plan, but as a time of being refreshed and renewed. I could come home to any circumstance, knowing that in the future the solution isn’t to run in the opposite direction, but to assess the situation and be prepared to break away from anything robbing me of the gift of joy God has given me.