“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” (Galatians 6:9 NLT)
“Yep, you heard me, I QUIT!!!!” Does that surprise you? I QUIT!! Truth be told, I actually do quit on a regular basis.
For you, I wonder what images pop into your head when you hear the phrase “I QUIT!”? Do you see someone storming out of a job fed up with the treatment? Do you see someone in the middle of a workout collapsing to the floor in bodily defeat? Maybe you see someone, hopeless, putting an end to a challenging marriage? Or, maybe you see something personal. Maybe you see the person you want to be compared to the person you are right now, and you declare, “I Quit!” Quitting is multifaceted, which makes it even more intricate than we think!
No matter what images pop into your mind, to quit, by definition, is a verb. It is an act, and it’s a decision. Quitting can be a process or an immediate, one time experience. Quitting something is both emotional and physical.. According to dictionary.com, “to quit” can mean any of the following:
- To stop, cease, or discontinue
- To depart from; leave
- To give up or resign; let go; relinquish
Quitting puts an end to something in order to give a beginning to something else. Quitting can be an act of defiance, a declaration, or a defeat. To quit something changes the trajectory of a person’s life and often changes the lives of the people closest.
The quitter. Did you like that choice of words, or did it make you cringe when I labeled a fictional person a quitter? Did you personalize it and see yourself in that word? For me, the connotation of “a quitter” has always been attached to the negative perception of someone who just gives up. I wasn’t raised in a generation when quitting was an option, nor was it something to celebrate, unless you were quitting an addiction. Then, that was good. Which brings me to my current love-hate relationship with the phrase “I QUIT!” Like always, God is pushing me to rediscover the old in order to redefine the new. So, here it goes…
Just a few weeks ago I was finishing up “Finding Comfort in the Chaos.” Literally, as I was settling into peace and confidence, an internal shift happened again. #ShiftHappens I was given a glimpse of my past and my possible future. I was given new dreams and vision for the something much bigger than myself, and I was given HOPE and PASSION to extend beyond my comfort zones. Almost immediately, I was also flooded with old thought patterns and negative self talk simultaneously. Just as soon as I had accepted the vision of what life could be like and the ways that little old me could impact a greater good, I also received a picture of the Israelites fleeing Egypt, looking back to the only thing that they had known. God used that image to connect me, on a soul level, to all of the ways that I told God that, “I QUIT!!” before I even started. You might be surprised if f I told you how many times I flat-out yelled at God, “Nope! Not gonna do it! I can’t! It’s too BIG! But YOU haven’t…(fill in the blank), You’ve met me! I’m not equipped for this and my flaws… God, I just can’t! I QUIT…again!” Then it hit me. Yes, I know. It always hits me like a sucker punch! I needed to unpack and redefine my definitions of quitting.
First of all, let’s just say that my, “I can’t” is really “I don’t want to,” and it is completely fear based. Secondly, quitting is something that is both completely necessary and is an act of avoidance, depending on the situation. For example, the Israelites mentioned above (Read Exodus for details) were wanting to quit and give up before they even crossed the Red Sea because of the pressures on all sides AND from the seemingly impossible obstacle in front of them. The brutal slavery vs. the pending freedom was the reason why the Israelites needed to QUIT LOOKING BACK LONGING FOR THE COMFORT OF WHAT WAS, SO THAT THEY COULD REPLACE IT WITH THE OPPORTUNITY AND FREEDOM OF WHAT WAS TO COME. They had to move forward into the unknown for their survival and for their mental chains to break! The Israelites had to take a step of complete faith without “the how” laid out before them. They had to Trust that God would make a way where there seemed to be no way. They had to act when it just didn’t make sense, and when fear begged them to quit.
I know that I, too, have shackles that God wants to break me free from, doubt being one of them and insecurity is another one. I, too, have had to face fear and take steps of faith that seemed both impossible and flat out stupid. I, too, had to Trust that God had my back when everything around me seemed to contradict His Promises. I, too, had to quit looking back and longing for the comfort of familiarity, and I had to learn how to embrace the struggle of the unknown. I wonder what YOUR “Egypt and Red Sea” might be? I wonder what comfort and predictability keeps YOU looking back at what is easy instead of looking forward to what is better? I wonder what mental narratives you might have to quit in order to start becoming all that God has designed YOU to be???
These questions lead me to another type of quitter. While the Israelites had to quit being fearful, so that they could start being faithful, Jonah, on the other hand, is a story of having to quit being self-centered and prideful and start being humble. His job from God was to speak to a city called Nineveh, who was doing evil in God’s eyes, and tell them to repent before God wiped them out. How’d you like that calling??? Needless to say, this story is the “quitting from avoidance” story. Jonah did not agree with God, and simply refused to do what God entrusted him to do. God knew that this would be a story of Grace, but Jonah preferred judgment instead. Like the Israelites, Jonah could not understand God’s plan, but unlike the Israelites instead of stepping forward in faith, Jonah ran away. He pridefully refused what God told him, and traveled in the opposite direction altogether. Lo and behold, Jonah ran into self-inflicted troubles due to his disobedience. Between the unnecessary storm, the whale of a redirection, and the hardened heart posture, Jonah reminds me a whole lot of a reformed quitter (Read the book of Jonah in the Bible for the full story). In the end, Jonah completed his mission in Nineveh and learned about God’s Mercy.
I have been Jonah. There have been many days on this journey of writing about all of my imperfections and challenges in which I flat out refused God’s Glory. I simply wanted comfort more than I wanted to face another uncomfortable challenge that would grow me. There have been other times when I just simply wanted my way more than I wanted God’s way. At times, the doubt of God’s Goodness pulled so strongly that I temporarily gave into the chains of complacency instead of BELIEVING that God would, in fact, work all things together for good. Add in the vanity of caring what other people think, and the past two years have been a back-and-forth strike and counter-strike between acting like the Israelites, longing for what was, and acting like Jonah, running away from my God given calling. Because God’s process takes longer than I’d like to give, and includes some humbling moments, I quit and restart more than a dying car battery in need of a change!
Like the Israelites and like Jonah, I battle with quitting on so many levels. I, too, have seen and felt God’s Goodness through the journey or learning to quit and learning to grit through life. I have wanted to quit, and did temporarily, in seasons when God asked me to grow. Likewise, I have wanted to grit and white-knuckle my way through things, refusing to quit, when God simply asked me to let go. Why is it so complicated? And why do I fight so much against God’s calling on my own life? Well, it’s quite simple. It all comes down to my heart posture and the battle between pride and trust. There were, and still are, two questions that I have to reconcile daily…
- Do I Trust that God has my best interest in mind?
- Do I Trust that God will provide ALL that I need to do all that He calls me to do?
That’s it. That’s the depth of quitting. Trust. No matter which lens we look through, it is all about having faith and trusting God with that which we cannot see, know, or fully understand so that we get to the point of unwavering obedience. Trust and faith, on that level will lead a person to stop, cease, or discontinue destructive habits and thought patterns. It will lead a person away from comforts and towards character development. Sometimes, trusting God will lead a person to depart from, or leave, something seemingly good for something even better. Or, maybe a person will have to quit a destructive relationship or life path. The irony of this part of faith is that the comfort of the known is so strong that it will take divine intervention to be able to let go of what we think for what God knows is best. This takes us to the last type of quitting. In order to be able to walk fully in all that God has for us, we will have to be willing to give up or resign, let go, and relinquish our pride for God’s Promises. We will need to give up our role as CEO of our lives and fully abandon ourselves to The One who knows us better and to the The One who wants more for us than we want for ourselves. We will have to learn how to say, “Okay, God. I Trust You. You know me better than I know myself. Your Will, Your Way, Your Plan, Your Timing.”
Trust me when I say that I know, intimately, just how impossible this seems, and just how hard the process can be. Trust me when I say that every bit of the process is so worth it! How do I know this? My life has become the evidence of God’s Goodness and Faithfulness, despite my own attempts to challenge God in many ways. As I have said before, His Grace and Mercy simply wrecks me to depths of my soul! And it all started with this verse and two questions:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
-Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
While I knew this popularly quoted verse nearly my whole life, it wasn’t until these past two years that I learned how to STAND FIRM on one of God’s Promises no matter what was happening around me. From June 2018-June 2020 I have had more things break in my life as I stepped forward in faith. God says “plans to prosper you,” but I was flat broke. God says, “ plans to give you hope,” but my best friend broke my heart and walked away without so much as a closure conversation. God says, “not to harm you,” but June 2018-March 2020 would come to break me physically with sickness, emotionally single parenting with a job change, and mentally as I worked my way through broken appliances, repeated car issues, 2 floods, and a leaking roof. God says, “a future,” when I couldn’t even seem to stay afloat in the present. It was in all of this that the questions formed, “Is it worth the wait, the pain, and the process?” I wanted to quit God altogether, multiple times, along this journey, and as I told you before, I actually told God that I did quit. Yet, something in my heart kept seeing the image of my Heavenly Father looking at me the way I look at my son when he wants to give up in the middle before the breakthrough. I would see God smiling at me with a knowing glance that, this too, would bring me to a new level. It has been that smiling image in my head that gave me the courage to pick back up and keep stepping and keep trusting.
I know as a parent, that there are a lot of times when my son simply doesn’t have the experience to see the perspective that he will one day grow into. Knowing this, I imagine God knows that we, too, will grow into a more Godly perspective along the “Quitting Road”. Even so, I still had one question that God had to answer, “WHY?” Why, God, would you put this much on my plate? Why, God, would you allow me to break repeatedly? Why, God, would you let me me quit yet take me back again? Why would you nudge me to actually, for real, quit certain things. The answer surprises me. The answer shocks me actually! The answer was simply, “Because I love you.” You, see, I saw God’s Love in REAL and tangible ways throughout this brokenness. I saw His love in his willingness to let me choose. I saw His love in His ability to patiently wait for me. I saw HIs Love in His second chances and opportunities. I saw His Love in the Provision of the people He surrounded me with. I saw His love every time I would break free from a mental or physical shackle as I danced into freedom! I saw His Love in the ongoing miracles that I cannot fully comprehend nor explain. I saw His Love as HE HELPED me replace fear with confidence and doubt with trust. Most recently, I have seen His Love in His unwavering faithfulness!
I am learning how to quit controlling life and simply live fully in each moment. I’m learning how to quit complaining and start praising God. I’m learning how to thank God for every single thing He has done, IS doing for me, and will do in the future. I’m starting to thank God for things that haven’t happened yet, and I am leaning on faith to believe that they will at the right time. And do you know what has happened as I am learning to artfully QUIT? I have seen more generous acts of giving to my situations in the past 2 weeks than I have seen since 2018! My house is being fully restored with new appliances, a new roof, new flooring, and even new toilets! All in 2 weeks! How can the things I tried to “fix” over a 2-year span suddenly be completed, totally unexpectedly, in 2 weeks??
Well, there are 2 reasons. On one hand, I do think there is a true enemy who did all that he could to try and keep me from all that God has for me. I was hit so hard so fast for so long that I nearly quit my calling. I almost gave up the only One, Jehovah Jireh, who remains steady in the storms. On the other hand, I also believe that there is A MUCH BIGGER, MORE LOVING GOD who gave me EXACTLY WHAT I NEEDED to be able TO LET GO! Do I think God kept me from these good things over the past year? NO! You see, I’m an incredibly STUBBORN person. Some people can receive and learn the first time with gentle nudging. I, on the other hand, have to be broken to let go of my own pride. God loves me enough to break me over time, to provide for me in each circumstance, to love me as I grow, to give me more than I would give myself, and to teach me the value of quitting!
I don’t know what challenges I will certainly face in the future, nor do I know what challenges YOU are facing on a daily basis. What I do know is that perseverance is a lifeskill, and it is truly important on the journey of faith. Just like any successful person, there will always be obstacles to overcome, and there will always be naysayers trying to get you to quit, your own internal voice being the worst of them. So here’s what I say…. YOU DECIDE when and what to quit! Be the decision maker and let perseverance do its work. As God says in Romans 5:1-4(NIV)
And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (emphasis mine)
As God grows you, so will your peace, confidence, and purpose. Trust Him enough to stop, cease, and discontinue destructive habits and thought patterns. Allow God to help you depart from something seemingly good for something even better. Have the courage to QUIT that destructive relationship or life path. Be willing to give up, let go, and relinquish pride for God’s Promises. Learn how to say, “Okay, God. I Trust You. You know me better than I know myself. Your Will, Your Way, Your Plan, Your Timing.”
God is faithful, and God is love. Receive that Truth today knowing that tomorrow will always be an opportunity to step forward in faith towards all that God has for you. FOR YOU. God is for you and God is with you, no matter what it looks like or feels like. Don’t give up! It’s always hardest right before the breakthrough! Reach for the cloak of Jesus, and watch in awe as He sets YOU free! Rejoice in our sufferings and QUIT strategically, because GOD IS doing a good work IN US and THROUGH US! Until next time, remember that:
“Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.”
-Lamentations 3:23 NLT
FIGHT ON MIGHTY WARRIORS, and KNOW that YOU ARE MORE THAN ENOUGH! !