When You Want to Quit

When You Want to Quit

Discouragement gathers like storm clouds on the horizon. When the early morning sun breaks through the slits in the blinds, I fight the desire to bury myself deeper under the covers. I am exhausted and spent. I have little to show for my pursuit of God’s call on my life except dark circles under my eyes and a pile of neglected laundry in the corner of my room.

I am on the lookout for big results for my effort. I long for an appreciative slap on the back, a shout out of recognition, anything to present as evidence that what I do matters. I am met by silence. Deafening, discouraging, deathly silence. The darkness of discouragement has almost convinced me that a lack of results means failure.

I am ready to quit.

Shut the whole operation down.

Go back to easy.

A small light glows in the darkness. Truth breaks in to remind me of my calling. It is not to work for results. My calling is to be faithful as God entrusts me with skill, inspiration, and opportunity.

This truth leads me to a question: What is my definition of success?

Is it a win when I see evidence that someone listens?

Are the victories marked by a rise in popularity?

Is recognition the objective of my effort?

Or could success be defined as doing the thing God asked me to do regardless of the outcome?

My equation for success: good work always equals good results. Conversely, I believe bad results are a result of bad work. My standards are high for a positive return on my investments of time, money, heart, and soul. In the economy of my flesh, I desire recognition and results as a reward.

Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. (Rom. 8:5-8 NIV)

God’s economy is different. The results aren’t always palpably positive. Sometimes, the only thing I have to show for the calluses on my work-weary hands is a small shift in the attitude of my heart. It is possible to labor and toil and have nothing to show for it. Right now, my labor is met with famine. My soul is hungry for something to show for my endeavors.

I want to quit because I do not see success according to my standards. I am wrapped up in positive outcomes. Instead of quitting, I need to shift my focus. Results are not the reward. The reward is found in the pressing in. As I reach the end of my strength, I press into Jesus. There I find intimacy with God. Instead of trying to manipulate and force a positive outcome, I need to remain faithful to my calling. This is the painful, beautiful place where faith grows.

When You Want to Quit

Consider the tree. It doesn’t try to make the rain fall or the sun shine. It doesn’t alter the pH of the soil. It doesn’t even brush away the pests that crawl in its branches. A tree stands firm. It stretches out to receive the gifts God offers. The tree makes its branches available for the fruit He chooses to produce when He chooses to make it bloom. No amount of straining, manipulating, or grumbling can change the produce. Quitting  leads to certain death.

Instead of packing up my supplies and retreating deep into the covers to hide from this hard season, I think I will stand tall and stretch out my branches. I will take the sun and the rain. I will tolerate the pests and the harsh conditions. As I stand with my arms stretched out in surrender, fulfilling the role that God called me to, I will wait patiently for my Creator to do His work in me. I will wait for His fruit to bloom, mature, and ripen. And I will take no credit for that fruit. After all, it isn’t my work to begin with. It is simply being available, willing, and still.

Sometimes, the most faithful thing we can do is not quit.

Be brave with me, dear friends. That thing you want to quit? Release the need for results. Redefine success as dependence on and intimacy with God. Press in for strength and endurance. And wait with arms stretched wide.

Keep mothering.

Keep loving.

Keep serving.

Keep writing.

Keep dreaming.

When You Want to Quit

 

Photo credits: Christopher Sardegna (feature) and John Mark Arnold via Unsplash.

21 Comments

  1. This is beautiful and I needed it today. Thanks for an on time reminder, faithful one.

  2. Amen! Just so you know, your definition of ‘famine’ isn’t always accurate. Sometimes, Kelly, your words and encouragement have been the oasis that I needed. You can’t necessarily quantify that. But, truthfully, your posts are one of my favorites AND the only person I consistently read. Just saying….

    • Thank you for speaking truth, Brandy. My scale of success is skewed in so many areas. I base the success of my parenting on things like the kids keeping their room clean. The success of my marriage skills are wrapped up in a happy husband. And writing success is based on numbers. I’ve got it all wrong. #workinprogress

  3. If Brandy consistently reads you, that is something!! I adore you, and I am walking right along side you. I am unable to even get Friday 5’s. I am wandering as well. Don’t stop. I NEED you to be there when I stop wandering myself.

  4. Oh Kelly, yes. I want to quit almost daily. The discouragement hits me heavy. Your words are so true. I HAVE to keep remembering GOD’S economy. I love how you broke all this down. It is SUCH an encouragement. You truly have a gift, my friend.

  5. I relate to this a lot. I find it easy to get discouraged when I don’t feel appreciated, or feel that I’m working hard and not seeing any results. Thanks for the encouragement to keep going. I really appreciate you and your writing.

  6. Dear #CoffeeForYourHeart neighbor today,

    I loved this!!! It so resonated with me. Thank you for sharing your heart and encouraging the rest of us with these truths. 🙂

  7. This was such wonderful encouragement! May w stand firm & just “be” present in Him. This here was a powerful statement > “Sometimes the most faithful thing we can do is not quit.” May we be faithful today! Blessings!

  8. “Redefine success as dependence on and intimacy with God.” I love this! My prayer lately has been to ask Him to help me keep my eyes on Him, because I can’t even do that on my own, but thank God I’m not on my own! Thank you for sharing this. It is very uplifting!

  9. “Redefine success as dependence on and intimacy with God.” Yes, that’s what He wants! What He says about us is all that counts anyway.
    When the farmer plants the seed, he can’t see what is happening underground without disturbing the dirt and endangering the life of the germinating seed. We are planting seeds and watering them. It is up to God to bring the increase. We have to wait on Him.

  10. What a good reminder. One of the most powerful moments I’ve had with God recently was during a time when I was so frustrated that life wasn’t looking how I thought it should and was mad at Him for being silent. Just then I felt Him say to me “My silence doesn’t equal my inaction.” So powerful. Thanks for pointing me back to that truth today!

    • Wow! “My silence doesn’t equal my inaction.” I am writing that down and sticking it on my mirror. Just the words I need to hear today! Thanks, Sarah!

  11. Thank you for writing this. If I could pull myself up to write it would be the perfect words to convey exactly how I am struggling. 🙂

  12. I have a friend who always says, “Obedience is success.” If I can look back at the end of my day/week and see that I heeded the Holy Spirit, then that’s success. Some of my days/weeks are better than others. Last week, I came very close to quitting this writing ‘gig’ as well, so your post is very timely for me. Thanks for being vulnerable.

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