We don’t like to quit, but there are times to let go. How do we resolve the dilemma of staying or leaving?
“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” ~ Senaca, Roman Philosopher
A couple months ago, after reading Organized Simplicity by Tsh Oxenreider, I got motivated to de-clutter my closets and get my house in order. Not to save the planet, but to save my sanity.
I grabbed some empty boxes and got ruthless. If I hadn’t used something in the past year or a toy didn’t yield 10 minutes of playtime for the kids, it was on its way out to a better place.
After a few days of manic collection activity, I surveyed the loot in the garage. I was going to sell the stuff on a parents’ Craiglist-type mailing list. Even if I sold them dirt cheap, I could score some coffee drinks and yummy pastries from it.
How naive. It took me forever to take pictures, upload the listing and ferret through the emails between the fakers and the serious buyers. All that time wading through questions like “Can I put it through the dishwasher?… Do you have cats or dogs in your home?” were using up my keystrokes. I wanted to be writing, not playing 20 questions. The last straw came when someone haggled me over a $5 new bed rail that was originally worth $39.99.
That was it. I made three runs to Goodwill and got rid of everything.
I started out wanting to sell everything. Instead, I let go, went to bed at peace and energized for the new day ahead.
Sometimes, when we start new, we experience the same dilemma.
Is It Okay To Quit?
We begin with excitement and fervor. We go to town on making new changes. As you get into the reality of those changes, it may seem overwhelmingly underwhelming. The experience doesn’t match the vision.
You find yourself with a new understanding — or the turn of events and circumstances — that lead you to consider ending, stopping or leaving.
You find out through persevering that God leads you to the point you need to let go. It is time to quit.
Maybe you’re undertaking some lifestyle changes, or considering a change in relationships, church or work. To develop some new habits, you may be needing to break old ones also like worry, depression or anger.
There isn’t one answer to all these scenarios, but I have found a spiritual principle that encourages me when it comes time to quit.
Many times what keeps me from letting go are:
1) I don’t want to let people down (I don’t want people to be disappointed in me).
2) I don’t want to let God down (I don’t want to fail Him).
3) I worry that I’ve wasted my time with my original plan (my effort is in vain).
When I’m going through a struggle in my heart — in many case, it’s a dilemma — over one choice or another, I realize my fears are about God’s pleasure, God’s presence and God’s reward.
My concerns are really about the rewards of faith.
I don’t want to end something unless I know God has something new for me — new and good.
I have to confess the “new” is never apparent in the moment of decision. It’s like a pair of scissors: it doesn’t cut until both blades are in action.
Sometimes, we don’t discover the new God is leading us to, until we are able to walk by faith and leave where we are. It takes a period of time to see the fruit of the decisions we make. In the case of Abraham, who left the familiarity of family, friends and lifestyle, he didn’t even see the fulfillment of God’s promise in his lifetime.
Like Abraham, we are also on a journey of leaving, to follow God where He leads us. We do this by keeping in mind the Reward of Faith .
Starting New Principle #2: The Reward of Faith
What is the reward of faith? Is it a “right” answer, a guarantee of successful outcome?
Without faith, it is impossible to please God,
because whoever comes to Him,
that He exists and
that He rewards those who seek Him.”
– Hebrews 11:6
The rewards of faith are:
1) God’s pleasure.
2) God’s presence. Confidence God is in it with us (He exists in our circumstance).
3) God’s reward. The reward of Jesus, God Himself (if we seek Him, we get Him).
This principle of faith’s reward has helped free me to decide if it’s time to quit — whether opportunities in work, ministry, a relationship, a pursuit or mindset.
I ask myself this question:
If I am confident I have God’s pleasure, presence, and reward (of getting Him) — regardless of my weaknesses and the result — what option am I free to choose? Do I stay or do I go?
I know I am free to make a decision when I am not longer afraid to quit.
Because if we have Jesus, then we have everything to get us through anything. From the old to the new.
There is an appointed time for everything…
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted…
A time to tear down and a time to build up…
A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.
A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
~ Ecclesiastes 3:17
How is God encouraging you to quit or stay the course?
How does the Principle of Faith’s Rewards inspire you in starting new?
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Today’s Topic 5/19:
To quit or not to quit. Share your thoughts or experience on quitting something or not quitting something.
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Share your thoughts on perfectionism.
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I’ve dealt with these things all to often the past 3 1/2 years. I took weeks to journal (after 2 years of counsel)and pray to God 1. do I stay, 2. do I go 3. do I act like nothing has happened. It was a really hard decision but I chose #2. I felt the same way–I disappointed me, I disappointed God, I disappointed those who helped me. But I was wrong! God has been showing me that ever since. Right now I am being challenged because my exhusband and I have agreed to take our children to Disney in a little over a month. Together. His family began planning a trip 2 years ago before he moved out. We are finally at a point where we are civil as a routine not an exception. He has finally accepted what was before, will not be. The challenge has become to me to work through the emotions of all of this–did I really let go of him completely? yes, but… God is showing me he is still right beside me through the words of my dear friend who has been beside me through all the turmoil the past few years. She helped me to write out very specific prayer requests regarding this upcoming trip. It will be a good trip, it will do wonders for our children who think we can’t be around each other without fighting–I hope we prove them wrong! It will be good for us to know we can parent our children and be there for our children, together, when its important to them!
Lisa, you tell a story that shows us the journey may not easy, but God is in it through it all. Thank you!
I am finding out these same rewards you speak of as I quit one job in mid-April and started one in May. Thank you for the conformation! It has been a journey of faith that I am seeing God unwrap with many blessings.
That’s wonderful, Katie! 🙂
I will begin my last year of homeschooling this fall and today I collect books to sell at our used book sale. I’m trying to decide what books to give up, what to keep, etc. I’ve about decided to basically donate the smaller-valued ones because the hassle of a few dollars may not be worth it yet it could really bless a young family getting starting.
Deciding when to quit and when to keep the course is definitely something I struggle through and have to pray about. I will keep your “rewards of faith” principles in mind!
You are in a season of change too, with this last year this fall. Lisa, I wonder what the road ahead will lead into? 🙂
Your three reasons for Not wanting to give up are pretty spot on. It’s all about disappointing others, disappointing God or disappointing myself. There are definitely times to quit ( I had a book that I finally admitted wasn’t going anywhere). And there are times to stick in there (I had a spouse who wanted to leave and I refused to agree). Love this subject.
Sounds like you had to take a tough stand for love, even though it hurt. Thanks for adding your heart-close encouragement, Dave.
I like how you put “no longer afraid to quit.” I didn’t think of this in the situations I’ve dealt with over the past year, but that is it. There was a peace and I was “no longer afraid to quit.”
That’s awesome, Amy!
[…] post is part of Bonnie Gray’s Thursday Faith Jam Series. Check out her post today: To Quit or Not to Quit. Share and […]
Quitting is truly a useful skill that is overlooked in our world and also myself. I hate to quit on things (i.e. it took me 10 straight years to get my undergrad degree), but sometimes it is the best solution and what God is calling us towards.
How do you know when is the right time to quit? It takes discernment, prayer and honest conversation with a strong spiritual person that you can trust to decide. I have found that sometimes I can see the beautiful meadows when I push past my personal pride and decide to quit on a decision.
Sometimes to win, we must give up…
Love your thoughts here, Stephen! Good stuff.
Oh gosh, the link thing turned me into a frog…
This post really hits at the most important question we can ask in a time of transition: Will this decision draw me closer to God? Seeking first God and his Kingdom has a way of stripping away every other question and concern. Thanks for keeping us pointed in the right direction.
Totally. Faith = drawing near to God. Whatever that ends up being. Ed, I don’t see the frog anymore. Got changed back to a prince, huh?
For years we have been having Saturday breakfast at 7:30 with my husbands family. It was an enjoyable time for all of us to reconnect at week’s end. But now, my situation is such that due to health reasons, I do not want to get up early enough to make this ritual feasting on a Saturday morning. The rest of the day is shot for me, because of the imbalance I experience when I have to get up at a different time.
I have decided that it is time to simply say that I will not be attending, but my husband will. And he is fully supportive of my decision. It, for me, is definitely time to let this go. I feel God’s peace about it. And I can now get up at the same time EVERY day!
Family changes/routines are so not easy. Thanks for sharing your “time to quit” story, Adele!
I have always viewed quitting as failing. However, sometimes quitting is more about recognizing that you’re heading in the wrong direction. It’s pointless to keep banging your head against a closed door, when there’s a way that is open if you’d just turn around. Great thoughts, Bonnie! 🙂
Well said Melissa. there are two very different things. One is changing directions when things don’t work out and the other is stopping completely when things don’t work out. Changing directions is a good thing, but stopping and giving up all hope of moving forward is the problem.
Melissa, it’s always a blessing to hear your insight and how you share the good stuff with us. I love the wisdom behind quitting. It’s really a change in direction!
Thanks so much for this, today, Bonnie. It was a real encouragement, for me! I am currently trying to get my brain wrapped around the end of a long relationship… and knowing it is time to “call it quits” is really difficult, at the moment, because I keep being filled with the usual emotions: some sadness, regret, “what-ifs”, etc… I know God will show me what His purpose is, but it is still difficult. At any rate, thank you for this lovely post that made me smile, this morning!
That is so awesome, Heather! I’m so glad you shared this with me! Relationships take so much courage, ending so overwhelming heart-clutching. I hope your evening’s relaxing one.
Funny…I was blogging all week about how we were a “leaving” society. I even guest blogged on bibledude.net about staying and supporting your church. Kind of goes along with not quitting. Even in the most difficult situations we have the opportunity to serve even when it’s hard and let God make a difference through us.
I’ll have to check that out, Nikole! I know it’ll be choice words, as always!
Once we’ve decided to quit–or change–I think there is always some form of grief. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes:
“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.” ~Anatole France
Sandy, THANK you for sharing this quote. It is beautiful and it touches my heart and stirs my soul.
Such good insight Bonnie! I think your criteria for deciding about these beginnings and endings are spot on! Thank you for a thought-provoking prompt and for your excellent post!
[…] Road – Blog Carnival by PeterP 8. Three Questions that will Change your Church by David Norman 9. Why Are We Afraid To Quit? (Starting New Principle #2) by Bonnie Gray 10. Focus On Who You Are by Michael J. Ellis 11. Work…Enthusiastically? by […]
Wow…I love that quote by Seneca. And WOW…this is a great post. Thanks so much for the REAL encouragement!
Wow. What a question. For quite sometime I’ve been overwhelmingly underwhelmed. That in and of itself is a long story. With all that is going on I’ve continued to just push through. It never really dawn on me, until reading this post, that God might be trying to tell me something. I guess I’ve been using all of my energy just to stay afloat in the situation.
For all of the reasons that you mentioned (and a few others) I’ve refused to even consider quitting. But I know that to be totally obedient to God, I must seek His will. That means letting go of my plans to embrace His.
Surrender is not easy, but there is definitely a sweet release that comes when we finally let go.
I’ve got a lot to think and pray about.
Thanks for sharing!
Your post is so timely. An ongoing challenge has finally reached a time of completely letting go and walking away. The beauty in all of it is how God truly used the time of faithfully going through it to change us and draw us to His heart. He always brings beauty in the pain…and…replaces what we have to let go of with more than we could ever imagine!
I never got to leave a comment when I linked-up. I love this: “Like Abraham, we are also on a journey of leaving, to follow God where He leads us.” He calls us to constant obedience and extends graceful forgiveness when we stumble. So thankful! (Thanks for hosting us for the Faith Jam each week!)