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When our default move is avoidance, our problems get bigger, no matter how deep we dig! We can’t continue solving problems Shawshank style!

It never ceases to amaze me what people do to avoid an unpleasant situation. A few weeks ago, I read a news article about an Irish man named Patsy Kerr. Patsy’s unpleasant situation was his wife’s snoring. You might think that to avoid the problem, he slept on the couch or bought a good pair of earplugs. But, according to the article, Patsy, in a burst of inspiration from the movie “The Shawshank Redemption,” chose to deal with his wife’s snoring by digging a tunnel under his bed and down the road to his favorite pub. It took him fifteen years before he finished the tunnel and popped up for a pint while his wife slept.

Solving problems Shawshank style
“I can still hear her!”

Shawshank or Shenanigans?

Before you get any ideas about digging your own tunnel, this “news story” is a bit of Irish blarney. It didn’t happen. However, I think it strikes a chord with those who want it to be true because they see themselves in Patsy’s efforts. We waste a lot of energy trying to avoid unpleasant situations. Metaphorically, we’ve all dug our own holes to hide in—and we’ve been digging some of them for over fifteen years.

  • A friend says something that hurts our feelings. Instead of talking to them about it, we dig a hole and avoid the hurt.
  • Someone close to us gets caught up in a sin leading them down the wrong path. Rather than confront them, we dig a hole to hide in and pretend we don’t notice.
  • Sometimes, it’s even ourselves we’re hiding from. We realize we’re in way over our heads. So instead of asking for someone else to help, we dig a pit to hide in and then wonder why no one seems to notice or care.

The truth is our avoidance expends far more energy than simply confronting the issue head-on. In addition, it’s negative energy—and nothing positive can come from it.

Blessed are the Peacemakers

I think part of the appeal of the Patsy Kerr story is in our hope that avoidance will work. We want to believe that if we dig our hole deep enough for long enough, we will be rewarded with something pleasant on the other end. If we put enough effort into our avoidance, we’ll be rewarded with what we want. We’ve fooled ourselves into believing that avoidance is blessed, but the Bible never rewards those who refuse to lovingly confront.

In Matthew 5:9, Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” not “Blessed are the problem avoiders.” James 5:19-20 reminds us, “If anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” There’s no promise of reward or blessing in digging a hole. There’s no one waiting there to hand you a drink and show you a good time.

It’s just a lot of blarney.