Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Quitting vs Persevering

Have you ever wanted to throw in the towel, and just be done with a situation once and for all? Have you ever wanted to just walk away and leave it all behind?

I know I have, especially when my emotions get tied into the situation, and my feelings start doing the thinking instead of my brain. In fact, sometimes I find myself thinking that it would be easier to surrender to defeat, admit there is no hope for improvement, and just quit, rather than choosing to persevere.

The question I have to ask myself though, when I finally start referring to what my brain thinks and not my heart, is whether or not the consequences of that quitting will be worth it....and usually the answer is no.

I heard about a book today called 10-10-10, by Suzy Welch which I may buy to read soon. But the description discusses how Suzy gives the suggestion that whenever you are faced with a decision, ask yourself three questions, which are: What are the consequences of my decision in 10 minutes? In 10 months? And in 10 years? Sounds simple enough, but the decisions we make each day can have huge consequences on our life, now and in the future.

Those consequences can occur in 10 minutes, 10 months, or in 10 years - or all three and some times in between. So when it comes to quitting on something or someone, we really have to take time to make the best decision, rather than making knee jerk reactions based on feelings or emotions. I have found, that the best choice is usually not to be a quitter, or at least not until you have prayed about it and feel confident that quitting is the decision God wants you to make. Think about it, we tell our kids that they cant be quitters, so why should we get any more leniency than them?!

The truth is, that the desire to quit is natural, and also universal. People all over the world, of all ages and genders consider quitting something every day. Students want to quit school, people want to quit jobs, spouses want to quit on their difficult marriages, friends want to quit on each other when conflicts arise, family wants to become estranged when they cant get along.

We think if something is not turning out to be the deal we signed up for, but instead is an ordeal we dont like, then we decide we want a new deal.

But the problem with quitting, is that it leads to more quitting. As we walk away from problems or people or situations, looking for the new deal that will certainly be better than the one we have, we may actually find it temporarily. But what happens when the new deal becomes an ordeal as well? That thought of quitting creeps in again. It can become a life altering cycle. The more we do it, the easier it becomes, and the consequences can be in 10 minutes, 10 months, or 10 years.

The good news is that perseverance leads to more perseverance, which leads to victory.

Today my son was complaining about having to go to school, again, because at ten years old, he simply does not realize the huge importance that an education will have on his future. All he sees, is that he hates getting up early, he hates having to sit in class, and he hates homework. So I began to tell him that sometimes we have to go through things we dont enjoy, but that we have to persevere. And even more important, we have to choose to have a good attitude and trust that God knows best and has a plan, while we are in the process of trying to persevere.

I tried to help him understand by telling him about a similar situation I used to be in. I once worked for a large international firm in a very stressful, demanding environment. On more than one occasion, I drove to work in tears, with knots in my stomach, dreading my arrival to the office. But I knew that I had to persevere, for the good of our finances and my family. And after several years, I realized that while I thought I was just trying to get through each day, that God had a reason for that suffering.

You see, so many of the skills and talents that I learned and developed in that position, were the skills that God needed me to learn before I could step out in faith and do what He had eventually called me to do. I did not know that at the time, and believe me, I wanted to quit more times than I can count, but I persevered, and realized that God rewarded me for not quitting until the time was right, and under the right conditions.

Was persevering fun? No way. Did I enjoy it? Of course not. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Just like my son needs to continue going to school because that is what is best for his future, we are called to persevere in our own situations because we trust that God is at work, and that He knows best.

Think back on a time when you stuck with something that was hard, painful, or difficult, but your perseverance paid off. Maybe it was a job, maybe it was a relationship, maybe it was a child, maybe it was a marriage. Think about how good it felt when you realized that all your hard work paid off, and what a blessing it was to see how God had been at work all along. Remembering those times helps me face the situations that I am trying to persevere through now. It helps me to stay focused on the fact that God really does have a plan.

Whatever the case, perseverance is what God calls us to do. Anyone can quit, but it takes a special person to persevere. As for believers, we have the extra benefit of seeking the power of the Holy Spirit to give us strength, when we are flat wiped out of our own strength. We have the power of God within our reach, to walk us through hard times, which can cause the desire to quit to become blurred as we keep focused on what God may have in store for us when we become an overcomer.

The last couple years that I worked in that difficult position, God stalked with me a verse. A verse that I underestimated and didnt quite understand, until I began to see a few pieces of Gods plan begin falling into place.

That precious verse was Jeremiah 29:11, 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.

God had a plan for my trials then, and I believe that His promise in Jeremiah 29:11 holds true for the things I am facing today as well.

So today, I choose not to quit. I choose to have a new attitude. I choose to forgive. I choose to love. And I choose to put my trust in God, and wait for more puzzle pieces to begin to fall, in the hopes that soon, I can reap the rewards of perseverance, and see His sovereign plan becoming a reality in my life.

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Anonymous said...

Thanks, Tracie,

I really needed to read this. My attitude really needs to shift to the hopeful perseverance you spoke of today. Please pray for all of us who are tired of trying and just want to give up.

Anonymous said...

Tracie, I am always so blessed when reading your devos on Proverbs 31 and love following your blog. This was another wonderful topic that I need to hear and plan to pass along to my 19 year old in his first year of college. Sometimes these subjects are better received from another source than a parent.

Thanks for your transparent heart, showing and sharing with women how to know Christ better, and for doing well one of the many things God has called you to do and that is sharing His love, His Word, and His ways for all areas of our life through your writings.