Here’s a post I wrote exactly a year ago about quitting, which is one of my favorite things ever. I never published this post, because I got too busy and stopped being a quitter. But now that I’m re-learning how to flourish I’m all about quitting again. It’s fun! It’s exciting! It’s a huge step toward getting healthier! Join me and be a quitter! Kidding, but I’m still sharing this post and I’m still practicing quitting… and friends, I think it’s going to be every bit as awesome this time as it was the first time, too.
In our society, “I quit” are dirty words. Quitting is seen as giving up. As not working hard enough.
Even as Christians, I think it can be easy to perceive quitting as not finishing the race.
But here’s the thing. I’m a fan of quitting when it’s right. All through my illness God taught me how to quit what I didn’t need so that I could focus on what I did need. It was an amazing season of gentle pruning and painful cleaving, and each time I’d think it was over I found out it was just beginning. Until after two years of it, I was left with a life I’d been too busy to ever create for myself: I didn’t have very many possessions, but I had great friends and family and time with God, quiet nights at home putting together a home cooked meal instead of joining friends, serving where I could and living at a slower pace.
Then it was time to quit my job. I don’t know how to explain this one other than to say I just knew it was right. Actually, to be fair I’d known it was right for a long time. So when I finally felt God nudge me and tell me this was the year, I took a deep breath and quit. [With lots of tears and tissues and way less grace than you would imagine, not because I was sad to leave but because it was so time to go.]
After I successfully quit those things, I was left with a lot more room to breathe.
It was awesome.
But here’s the other thing. I’ve also realized just how in demand that room is. Everyday people and things compete to fill up some of that space and to add just-one-more-thing to my day. I’ve realized how susceptible I am to my old fast-paced, over achiever ways when the people around me push me to accomplish more, do more, fill my day with more, and to define myself by what I’ve done not just who I am.
I think that’s why I find myself in this tug of war between the peace I feel as a quitter [seriously – have I told you how much I LOVE being able to spend a weekday getting acupuncture and a long lunch with a friend or talking to my sister on the phone for an hour at 3:00 PM?] and at the same time the feelings of inadequacy or failure I sometimes feel when others try to measure me against the standards of achievement or success.
That’s why when I stumbled across Laura at 10 Million Miles‘ post about quitting it was like a serious pat on the back from Jesus just when I’d started to question the stillness that I so enjoy. It was everything I felt but didn’t know how to explain to others. And it gives me so much hope for the future, because I know that God has a major purpose for this season of stillness and quitting in my life, whether it’s to prep me for the future or give me rest from the past 28 tumultuous years.
Each time I start to dip my feet back into my old way of life – thinking my success relies on me working my way into His grace, finishing this degree, holding the perfect job, bringing in more money, and serving in every position I can – something just kind of pops up to slow me down. And truth be told, I feel closest to the woman God’s molding me to be when I’m slowed down.
I find that when I’m slowed, I have the room to really focus on and practice the calling God’s placed in my heart: to love Him, to love others, to love sick people, to share His love and hope with them. I have the room to take friends’ phone calls, to meet them for long lunches, to encourage them with the Word because I’ve had time to be encouraged by it. To connect with the Lyme community on Facebook and email and Twitter and blogs, to share my own story of healing on my blog, to read blogs like 10 Million Miles, to really stop and think about the dreams God’s put in my heart, to commit them to Him, and to take small steps while trusting the mountain-moving to Him. And most importantly, to live a real life of service. Not to a university or a job, but to real individual people that God puts in my world everyday.
I find all of that comes naturally, and I find it comes without leaving me feeling torn in a million different directions all at once. Instead it feels freeing, fulfilling, and like real love.
Sure there are benefits to fighting the good fight, not giving up on a dream, and staying strong when the going gets tough. I think these are all things God’s Spirit gives us strength to do. But if a lifetime of perfectionism, ambition, and busyness has taught me anything, it’s that there is just as much to gain in knowing when and what to quit.
I like that lesson from my 28 year old self. I was a lot smarter than my 29 year old self. My 29 year old self has been talking about slowing down a whole lot but not really doing it. But you know what friends, this 29 year old self does not really talk about herself in third person, and even more importantly, I’m capable of getting my booty into gear when I need to. So I’m busting out my favorite books, realigning myself with those things I actually like to do (eat healthy, sleep well, take in big views of wide open spaces, and geek out about nutrition to my heart’s content) and finding any excuse to use white girl phrases like “get ‘er done!” My fiance is a lucky man. 😉