The first time I ran away from home, I was six years old.
There is no gruesome tale that justifies this decision to move out of home – my family were, and continue to be, a lovely bunch of people. At the time, I didn’t think so. My Mum, who had always fondly referred to me as her ‘handbag’ had decided that it was time for a new purse; there was a baby on the way. Now, maybe you became an older sibling during your childhood too and you took this wonderful transition in your stride. I did not. Not at even a little bit. I still remember my Mum and Dad telling us the ‘good news’ and sitting stunned as my sisters jumped up and down.
“Maybe we’ll have a brother!” they shouted.
Did we need a brother? I was happy with the way things were. I was the obvious favourite, doted on by my Father who (always) gave me sweeties or the last sip of his drink, and I was pretty much carried everywhere by my Mother. Who was this intruder who had come to take my position?
It was clear that my parents no longer wanted me and I wasn’t loved as much as I thought I was. The arrival of my new sibling became a national crisis: teachers at school were told about my difficulty ‘adjusting to the changes at home’ and a special eye was kept on me in case I stabbed myself in the eye with a pencil during play-time.
I’d been toying the idea of leaving home for a few months until I found the courage to execute my master plan. It was a Saturday morning. My parents were out and my sisters were lazing around the house while I packed all my favourite things in a blue carrier bag. I left the house, exhilarated, adrenalin pumping and my heart beating wildly. I was free! They wanted a baby? Fine. But I wasn’t going to stay where I wasn’t wanted.
But as I walked up my hill I became more unsure with every step. Where was I going? Who was going to look after me? Who would feed me? Despite all my questions, one thing was certain: if I didn’t get home before my parents returned, I was due to get a sound beating.
As I arrived at the top of the hill, I took a seat on my favourite bench and began to evaluate my options.
- Sleep on the bench
- Keep walking to an unknown destination
- Go home
I’m reminded of that day this morning as I write this post. This week, I ran away from home. Not my actual home (I cannot afford to pay rent in London) but from the warm, comfortable one I’ve been building up again with my Father (the one that resides in Heaven) over the past few months. I’m not sure why I’ve been walking up this hill all week, knowing all the while that I have nowhere to go to. I’m not sure why I sat on the bench evaluating the options similar to the ones available to my six-year-old self.
17 “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, 19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’
20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’
22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’
Similar to the prodigal son (found in Luke 15-32), I came to my senses this morning. I realised that there are no options that compare with returning to my Father’s house, being embraced by Him and being reminded of His enduring love that covers a multitude of sins. When I am away from the Father, there is a sense that something integral is missing. Life is okay
(kinda) but moments are hollow, joy is fleeting, pieces of the puzzle remain hidden from my sight and I find myself going through the motions: getting up, going to work, gyming, sleeping. And it’s not enough.
This week, I aim to do better. I’m going to get back to my daily Bible readings, my consistent communication – all that good, good stuff.
I am going home.
If you’re on the run, evaluating your options, unsure as to what life will look like if you continue walking that hill, maybe you should return to your home too; He still loves you and is waiting for you.
Lots of love,