Escape.

18 Apr

You may be asking yourself why you just watched 8 minuets of Patton Oswalt discussing Star Wars VII complete with X-Men, Marvel Heroes, and of course Greek gods. I know that I was asking myself just that when I finished watching it. The truth is that it immediately sucked me in, as do all of those franchises. I love a good movie, especially one that involves a whole new world. As a kid I read all the time. I always loved fantasy and fiction stories. I loved delving into a whole new world and relating with the characters. As I grew older I started to dive into other things like video games and movies. Even sports games became a new world for me. As long as I could do it in a game, imagine it in a book, or watch it on a screen I believed that I was achieving something.

Eventually, I would go on to drop out of sports, work as little as possible at school, and skip parties to play video games or sit at home alone watching a movie. It became my escape. I decided that life was better in a different world than our own. I had lots of friends, was fairly athletic, smart, wasn’t picked on, had no real reason to want to escape, but I was bored with life and I wanted out of it some way or another. For me it was video games, movies, and books. For others it might be a more obvious issues such as drugs, alcohol, or other forms of mind altering experiences. For many it is a eating habit or constantly sleeping. And for most of us this obsession leads and or ends in the viewing of porn: the ultimate escape; the ultimate way to really feel like something different than yourself.

This post is not meant to be specifically about porn, but I do think that it plays a very big role in a man’s journey of escape. We try to escape as a way to feel something better than what we are currently feeling. Often it is because we do not feel like we have a purpose, we are anxious or stressed, or simply because we have little self worth. Porn and masturbation is the strongest way to avoid these things. It is the strongest feeling and most connected we can feel to a different world. It simply put: works better than anything else when it comes to wanting to escape.

I zero in on porn because I think it is the single greatest way that satan destroys would-be Godly men. I do believe that escapism in general leads to a lot of other sin. I started to narrow in on fictional worlds as a kid and that grew into me being apathetic, I shut other people out, I formed an unrealistic pride about who I was, and I spent so much time with my brain doing very little that I let satan whisper things into my mind. Things that I still am reaching to correct with God’s Truth. When we spend so much time escaping we are spending time in satan’s territory. I am NOT saying that movies, books, video games, food, sleep, etc. are satanic. I AM saying that this world belongs to satan and when we spend more time in things of this world (even other worlds created by people of this world) than anything else, we are allowing ourselves to be influence heavily by it.

“Based on my own experience, when you’re going through adolescence you don’t know how the world works. You can’t set a story in the world you live in because you don’t know what a utility bill is, or how to budget your paycheck. So you either set it in a zombie apocalypse, a wasteland or a spaceship…”

The quote above is from Patton Oswalt, the same guy who was in the video at the beginning of this blog. Weather he meant to or not he unwrapped a huge dilemma in America. As adolescence boys we are taken care of (thank you mom and dad!) and that is a great thing. However, the implication is that we do not know what to do with our life. During a time where we used to search for purpose and meaning we are now handed the alternatives of video games, movies, and TV. Why do I need a purpose when I can follow batman and watch him fulfill his purpose? We choose the easy route and we don’t even realize it. Don’t get me wrong I love these things; I still watch movies and read books.

The issue is that from a young age we develop this lifestyle. We choose to take the easy route to fulfillment. Finding something exciting to do takes work; finding purpose and meaning in life takes even more work; finding a way out of the anxiety you have takes a lot more work. I get it, I get why we choose to go back to our other worlds. I also get that when we do we let ourselves be unusable. I truly believe that for most of us we started escaping from this world before we even know what it was. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t stop doing it.

In my previous post (Action: Do or do not, there is not try…) I talked about being a doer and the notion that God wants us to be doing and to be alive. That post is what got me thinking about why we do not do anything, why we choose to be dead. After praying and thinking through it, the notion of escapism is what I came to. Guys, we live in a culture that is full of ways to escape reality, to feel good through some other median; but God calls us to live in a different way. There are countless articles and books on being a man. Most of them boil down to being men of action, being men of integrity, being men who are wise and slow to anger. I am sure that most of us could list of a set of attributes that portray true manhood; but maybe the best place to start is to ask God what we should not be doing. Compile a list of things that distract you from the Kingdom of God and the work that is going on in this world. This was my list:

1. Video Games
2. TV
3. Movies
4. Books
5. Porn
6. Board Games
7. Long Naps
8. Taco Bell

I made this list a few years ago. It took me several years to want to work on it: I never wanted to look at #5. Luckily, I met a women who I wanted to marry and she was reason enough for me to get that out of my life. Everything else stayed though. The first year of our marriage I spent hours playing video games, I was addicted to Netflix, when I did spend time with people it was in a fantasy world via some strategy board game. All of those things kept me from becoming the man I needed to be, not only for my wife, but also for God. This past year God has worked so heavily I can say that I made tremendous progress in all of those areas of my life. All because I prayed a prayer about what I needed to not do in order to serve Him. God not only told me what I needed to stop doing, He also showed me where I needed to stop going. He showed me that I was not just wasting time, but that I was really, truly entering into other realities.

I know that once you start to come back into this world, you will see a lot of things you do not like: bombings, hatred, judgment, cheating, etc. I also know that you will come across things about yourself that you do not like. For me it was the notion that I was getting chubby, that I had to stop eating so much freaking Taco Bell. Things that you may not want to face. This is what I can tell you: when you do face those things (and get some help doing so! Telling people where you are at is the biggest earthly help you have.) you meet more of Jesus. He begins to infiltrate your life.

Once you ask God what you need to stop doing, go back to Him asking what you need to be doing. I promise that He will begin to transform everything in your life for His purpose and for His glory. It will not be an easy process. God will be there in it though…even when He doesn’t seem like He is.

Begin the process of making your reality God’s reality. This is something that you have to figure out with God. Once you do I urge you to start talking to other people about it. God wants us to live in a community where we help and support each other. Breaking free of a lifestyle you have lived for years is not easy and I suggest that you do not venture by yourself. Begin to run from the things that you escape to and begin to run towards a life full of meaning and giving God glory. Come back to this world, no matter how much you may hate it. You cannot be doing God’s work in a reality that does not exist.

-Jason Hesse
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I am a 23 year old Wisconsinite attempting to live in the Twin Cities. I love the outdoors, books, board games, people, and Jesus. I graduated Northwestern College (St. Paul) with a BA in Youth and Family Studies but I work as an Assistant Manager at a local Car Rental Agency. It’s not glorious but it allows me to work part time at Grace Church: Roseville, where God has called me. I have an amazing wife named Erin (she has a blog all about coffee shops called Chillybean if you are interested) who has helped me grow and gives me constant grace and support. Check out my blog here.

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