“Step away from the chocolate.”
I understand needing to step back from things in life. The problem is that often what I should step away from isn’t what I’m supposed to step away from.
After a rough day or a rough week, I start to think about the possibility of spending hours at a coffee shop alone with my laptop or a book. I think about taking a day trip all by myself.
I’ve done both these things legitimately and they’ve been blessings, but I’ve not done them nearly as often as I’ve fantasized about them (#introvertconfessions).
I’ve even contemplated staying overnight at a local hotel, just to have time to be alone with my own thoughts and do my own thing. I’ve never done it, but I’ve justified the desire many times in many ways.
Now, I do think all of these options can be legitimately done. There is a place for taking a breather, for having time to think and plan, or for getting some needed refreshment.
But just because we consider it or feel a need for it doesn’t automatically make it legitimate.
My life is not hard right now, praise God. When I feel overwhelmed, it’s usually my own fault and not based on reality. When I justify getting away, it’s only selfishness, because the truth is that I get plenty of time to my own thoughts and projects already.
When I feel like I want to walk away from life for a spell, what I actually need to walk away from is my own selfishness and idealistic dreams.
I didn’t realize that a “Walk-Away Story” is actually one of the Hollywood archetypes alongside Redemption and Thriller.
Apparently walking away from what appeared to be amazing success or security in order to “follow your heart” or “pursue your dreams” is a common Hollywood plot structure. Oh wait, I suppose that’s not hard to see. But is it a true one?
I was listening to a podcast on writing even nonfiction with a story arch in mind. It was an interview with a screenwriter, who outlined three story types that work to organize even nonfiction writing: Redemption, Walk-Away, and “You Are Not Alone.”
I had never considered “Walk-Away” as a genre or organizing principle alongside Redemption (obvious to Christians and English majors), but her examples made it clear that this was a type near and dear to the television and movie world: The situation looks too good to be true, yet the (usually woman) is unsatisfied, so she leaves it all to follow her dreams or her heart. And of course, it turns out beautiful in the end (so it’s Redemption as well – she’s saved from a lack of fulfillment) or it’s the start of a tv series and we’re eager to follow her journey of self-discovery and the unfolding of her destiny.
You already knew this: Hollywood is selling a lie.
When we buy it, this is actually how it goes:
- Woman has a good life with many blessings but also difficulties, and is discontent.
- Woman decides she needs to follow her own selfish inclinations to be happy and either checks out emotionally, mentally, or even actually.
- Woman winds up not only being bitter but sowing bitterness all around.
Let’s not follow the Walk-Away story arch.
Or, rather, let’s turn it on its head and show Hollywood a true version.
Because the truth is that we do need to walk away – often. Just not from life. We need to walk away from our wrong-headed thought patterns, from our bitterness, from our discontentment, from our selfishness, from our pride. In repentance, we turn away from sin.
We don’t need to turn away from the Good Life we have where God has placed us, from the good works He has called us to do. We need to turn away from everything that distracts and tempts us. If we want to rejoice, the only path forward is to repent, to turn away from sin and to God.
Let’s write our own Walk-Away story today and show Hollywood how it’s really done.
What will you walk away from today?