At the ripe old age of seven, I could no longer take my parent’s tyrannical rules and regulations. Saturday mornings were the worst. I only wanted to eat Mother’s homemade pancakes in peace while watching The Lone Ranger in my Bug’s Bunny footie pajamas. Neither Mom nor Dad seemed to appreciate the importance of those Saturday mornings—me bonding with Tonto, the Lit’ Rascals, and Sky King. Every Saturday, it was the same old fight. The louder I turned up the TV, the louder Mom’s Kirby vacuum cleaner screamed. Dad didn’t seem to care either, as he pushed his noisy Yazoo lawn mower around the yard. I had to take a stand! So, in a loud voice, I announced, “I’m running away from home!”
I trotted to my bedroom and packed a few items I would certainly need for my journey—essential things like my Roy Rodgers gun and holster set, my official Tom Terrific hat, and my snazzy red Tonka truck. Mom said she would miss me and hugged me goodbye. I was crestfallen—I knew she didn’t love me. Dad smiled and told me to watch out for the neighbor’s mean dogs. Dogs indeed! “You’re gonna miss me even if you’re not showing it,” I thought.
With my head held high, I walked out the front door of our house at 5204 Greater Avenue in Biloxi. I was never coming back. I waved at the Minton boys playing in their front yard as I lugged my suitcase down the street. I heard Mrs. Reed and her Pentecostal friends singing hymns in her living room, preparing for Sunday’s church service. After a block or two, I got tired, but I trudged onward, finally stopping at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Marshall, a sweet elderly couple who were family friends. When she saw my suitcase and pajamas, she didn’t appear surprised.
Over a glass of cold milk and homemade gingerbread cookies, I told Mrs. Marshall that my parents didn’t love me, and I never wanted to see them again. With a loving smile and a warm hug, she said, “Andy, your parents love you very much, especially because you are their only child. They work hard during the week to put food on the table and a roof over your head. Saturdays are their only days to clean the house and cut grass. They do all of this because they love you. Their hard work makes your little life better…understand?” And the rest, as they say, is history.
The day before Dad’s unsuccessful heart surgery in January 1997, we all had a good laugh at my expense concerning the only time I ran away from home. Mom and Dad knew I’d stop by the Marshalls for cookies and milk. They called ahead to warn them that I was on my way. And they knew I’d come running home, just as I did all those years ago. That day, little Andy learned a valuable lesson—running away from something never solves the problem.
What are you running from? A miserable job? A failing marriage? A questionable relationship? A lifestyle out of control? Or are you running away from the mirror of your life, knowing the reflection is the problem? Running away may provide a temporary reprieve from your problems, but unless you have a solution before “returning home,” it will only increase your feelings of dread, anxiety, and doom. However, by pinpointing what’s conjuring your desire to run, you can begin making changes that positively impact your future.
Lest we forget, poor old Jonah in the Bible attempted to run away from his perceived problems—those nasty Ninevites. Nor did he do what God asked him to—warn them of their evil and impending doom. But three days jostling around in the tummy of a big fish helped clear the old boy’s mind and set him on the right path “home.” Thankfully, my runaway problem was solved less dramatically via milk, gingerbread, and wise words. Thinking of running away? Before you do, please run to God first in prayer. He’s waiting to hear from you.
Ponder this and go forth.