Recently as I composed my ABC prayer list for various behaviors and issues my family members (and myself) needed to be delivered from I thought, What should I put down for the letter “e?”
The word “exiting” came to mind.
Family members—including me—struggle with this issue.
It happens when a person checks out—either literally or in their minds or hearts—of a situation or circumstance they never longer want to deal with.
When I thought about this, a list of circumstances which family and myself battled with in connection to exiting came to mind.
I thought of exiting from jobs. Years ago I exited from jobs quickly several times in a row once something arose I didn’t like about the job.
Then there’s exiting from marriage via divorce or withdrawal of one’s heart and love.
As Christians, we battle with the tendency to exit from church life, prayer, closeness to God, reading the Word.
Two of my family members chose extreme exiting when they decided to exit from life by committing suicide.
So many times over the years I yearned for an exit from painful situations. When it came to my marriage, God gave me a prayer to say in hard times when I felt I wanted to get far away from my spouse—maybe even forever: “Lord, when I want to run away, give me strength to stay and pray.”
Sometimes the need to exit exists. The key centers on checking it out with the Lord. Most wrong exiting takes place on the emotional level. We feel something, and we exit. That’s what I did during my early days of employment.
Years ago, when I battled suicidal thoughts, God gave me an interesting insight: “It’s not your body or your life that you want to leave (exit); it’s the emotional turmoil and torment you want to get away from.”
I pictured myself throwing that—and not my body—over a cliff.
As I began to pray for God to deliver me from the effects of traumas which haunted me from the past and serious conflicts in my present relationships, my desire to exit left me. What took its place was an expectation that God would help me to become the best me I could be in each difficult circumstance in my life.
That’s exactly what happened.
I saw as I stayed—even in hard circumstances—God brought about healing in myself, my relationships (both with people and with Him.) I became a stronger Christian, and I drew closer to Him and experienced intimacy with Him and people I never dreamed could be possible.
Not long ago I heard a radio show where the speaker talked about dealing with discouragement in various circumstances.
“One of the most important actions you can take to deal with difficult circumstances is to just show up,” he said.
Showing up is the opposite of exiting. How often I meet people who refuse to go to church because of hurtful circumstances there. I’ve done it myself, but then I learned about the necessity of showing up. When I showed up, I worked through conflict and allowed healing to take place. I liked what one person told me in the midst: “If you have been hurt by people, you need people to find healing.”
The others who didn’t show up repeatedly and let bitterness grow exited the church, church life, and even their walk with God—including close family members of mine. They made the decision: “I can’t go back to church because church people hurt me so much.” Some blamed God, so they exited their relationship with Him.
In these cases, as I learned more about their circumstances, I discovered they failed to do an important action which helps us to keep showing up instead of exiting: consult the Lord. I like the way my Bible study teacher says it: “Have you asked the Father?”
Of course, the enemy tries to get us so mad at the Lord we have no desire to consult Him. Many people who call themselves atheists are really just people who are angry at their father.
In the past, in the course of a day, when I felt like I wanted to run away from my marriage, I realized I sometimes did it even while I remained in the same house as my husband. I would hide in the bedroom and avoid all contact with him. Bitterness grew, and it hurt our relationship—and my spiritual life.
These days when a conflict arises, I don’t make an exit—unless the Lord tells me to. Sometimes that happens when my husband needs a little time to cool down. And the exit remains short-lived.
In most cases, I stay and attempt to handle the conflict in a godly way—making sure I don’t take an exit from Christlike behavior, which can easily happen in a disagreement or fight.
I rejoice today that God didn’t decide to exit from interactions with human beings. How difficult we must be to deal with for our perfect, righteous, loving God.
Instead of exiting, He chose entering this world for His Son, Jesus Christ, so we could be saved.
What a terrible outcome for us if God chose exiting. I think of the damage done when we choose exiting in an attempt to “save ourselves.” How many lives did we not touch that God wanted us to?
One verse which helps me to stay even when times get hard is Proverbs 18:10: “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe.” NKJV
I think of the literal name of Jesus and all Jesus stands for as being “my strong tower.” He remains my protector. I don’t need to exit to protect myself.
Today I stand determined to refrain from exiting—except as the Lord leads. I desire to walk through every door He opens and not back out of it until He says so. I want to be like Jesus—humble and obedient. And I want to count on God to protect me and keep me strong through every difficult circumstance I face.
I praise Him for His faithfulness in doing so throughout my life as I call out to Him. What a mighty God I serve.
“A Strong Tower (Blessed Be The Name of the Lord) by Ruth Hanna