Can I be honest?
I really want to give up.
I started this writing challenge, and I’m really struggling to see it through.
Honestly, the past couple of days I’ve had time to write, but I just couldn’t motivate myself to do it. It really doesn’t take long, and I always enjoy it. But for some reason, I struggle to get started. A million scenarios play through my mind, and I tell myself I really don’t have anything meaningful to say or share. I convince myself that it really would be better for me to say nothing at all.
But I want to chase this detour a bit – let’s talk about that lie. The crazy thing about most good lies is that they’re partial truths. For example, the lie that I don’t have anything worth saying is actually part-truth. The reality is that we’re inundated in our culture with way too much content. Everybody starts a blog because everybody has something to say. But so few people say anything worthwhile. The half-truth is that I can easily add to all of the noise out there. I’m right to be concerned. My spirit is picking up on something true: God didn’t make me to be one more narcissist on the internet.
But the lie is that I’m in danger of being that narcissist. The lie is that my speech is like everyone else’s. The lie is that the concern should altogether stop me in my tracks. The lie is… it’s better to quit than to fight – that resistance is a sign that I should turn back.
Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever struggled with something so hard that you thought surely the only right course of action is to give up?
I suppose some things ought to be given up. But what are those things? What do you fight for? And what do you let go of?
When I left my job to focus on my software business, I really struggled with this question. For a couple of years prior, I often thought about giving up the business because it was hard. It was hard to make a sale. It was hard to apologize to customers when things didn’t work right. It was hard to spend late nights updating old features. But I was determined to see it through. Then, when I finally had the time and flexibility to focus on my business, I realized I didn’t love my product, and I didn’t believe in my market. For a while, I told myself to just push through. But eventually, I had to face the fact that I started a business around something I didn’t ultimately believe in. And I made the right choice, I’m convinced, to shut it down.
But at other times, I’ve found, you’ve got to fight through the feeling of giving up. When I hiked Mt. Whitney a few years ago, I wanted to give up right about at 13,500ft. At that altitude, it’s hard to get enough oxygen in your breathing, your head gets light, and everything seems to say, “Turn around. You’re not meant for this.” But I’m so glad I didn’t give up then. I’m grateful when I think about the end. I made it because I chose not to listen to that voice.
Here’s the thing: we need to stick to our callings and our covenants. If I feel truly called to something, I need to see it through. And if I’ve made a covenant (i.e. a marriage vow), there’s no towel to be thrown in. If God brings something to an end, that’s one thing. But if it’s simply that I’m uncomfortable (or light-headed), I’ve got to push through.
And I’ve also got to be a lot more careful about what I commit to. I’ve got to limit my commitments – to under-sell so that I can over-deliver. Instead of saying, “I’ll be there in 5 minutes,” when I know I’m 15 miles away, I need to be honest. And before I set out to build a business (or build a tower, or follow Jesus, etc), I need to know what it will cost me.
So here’s the thing about writing: I feel genuinely called to it.
So it doesn’t matter if I’m terrible at it, or if I think people would be better off without my thoughts written out. I’ve set out to do something I believe in (and truly love). So I just need to do it.
Just because Peter rejected Jesus three times did not mean he made a mistake in following Jesus. He simply failed. But failure doesn’t mean turn back. It means get back up and learn a lesson. Keep moving forward.
I’m reminded of the preachers exhortation to the suffering Jewish Christians:
Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.Hebrews 12:12-13
I need to not give up.