When is it Okay to Give Up? (Part 2)

This blog post is a continuation of yesterday’s blog post: When is it Okay to Quit? You’ll want to read that post first and then, read on…

John Pennington teaching the modern dance class that I've been privileged and challenge to take at ARC studio in Pasadena.
John Pennington teaching the modern dance class that I’ve been privileged and challenge to take at ARC studio in Pasadena.

(from the last post) On a Saturday morning, I showed up for a modern dance class offered by an incredible teacher in our community. I am not being overly humble when I say I am the least skilled dancer in the room. There are dance company leaders, dance teachers of teachers, and professional performers in the class. This class stretches me so much.

I can hold my own for the warm up and enjoy the challenge of the center floor combinations. But I want to disappear when it’s time to go across the floor. The teacher will show a sequence of three to four combinations of movements strung together and then ask us to do them.

If one of his dance moves is a word, and one of his combinations is a sentence, he asks us to write a paragraph while I’m just learning to read, not to mention to write. It’s painful for me. It’s embarrassing.

On this particular Saturday as I struggled across the floor, I thought, “Maybe I should quit. This is so far above me that I don’t even know if I’m taking anything in.”

I thought about my son. I thought about how we told him that it’s okay to be where he’s at, that it was okay to do the best he could and we would be proud of him. I thought about how we discouraged him from jumping from “This is incredibly hard,” to “I can’t do this, and I need to quit.” I thought about how relaxed he seemed the next day and how much he was able to accomplish with a renewed attitude after a good night’s sleep. And I thought that quitting just because it’s hard was maybe not the best solution.

I also thought about a commitment I had made to myself when I started this class. I decided to attend four classes before I decide about staying or going. I would see if, as I got a feel for this teacher’s style and movements, if I would find myself catching on, really getting it.

So, I stumbled across the floor one more time. And, when I felt I could not follow any longer, I stepped to the side and watched for a while, just enjoying the beauty of the other dancers and trying to take in the sequences.

Soon, the across the floor time ended and we moved to floor movements. These movements stretch me, too, but I love them. They are beautiful and emotive and no one watches each other during this part.

I left class tired and still stinging a bit from the challenge but willing to come back again next week.

The next morning, I took some time to dance in my morning devotions. As I did, I found myself incorporating some of the movements I had learned the day before. They expressed what was on my heart in that moment, and they felt new and fresh, different from my usual go-to-movements. I realized that I did get something from that class, even though there was so much I felt I didn’t get. So, I committed to go back again the next week, and maybe longer than that.

Since then, I’ve been several more times. Each time I’m stretched, but each time I catch on a bit more. Two weeks ago in class, I was able to do combinations I’ve never been able to do. At one point, my teacher said “That was beautiful.” At another point, he corrected me. (He only corrects students who are making mistakes that others are making too and whom he thinks will be able to benefit from the correction. He left me completely alone for my first three or four classes.)

I’m so glad I did not walk away, when I felt the worst. Even though this class continues to feel out of my reach, I’m learning movements and a way of moving that I’ve been wanting to learn for a long time. I’m remembering more and more of the combinations and finding I can weave them into my worship and my choreography.

So, what is the takeaway, and how can that help you?

Is it ever okay to quit? I’m sure it must be. The apostle Paul was headed to Bythinia to share the gospel when the Spirit of Jesus prevented him from going. He changed course and went to Troas. He had thought he was to go to one place and the Lord redirected him. He wasn’t so set on what he thought was God’s will that he could not change course. Of course, He heard it straight from the Spirit of Jesus. Sometimes our direction is that clear. Other times, we need to practice discernment.

I think the biggest takeaway for me, from both of these stories, my own and my son’s, is that the time to quit is not when I feel completely incompetent and overwhelmed. The moment of crisis is not the moment for decisions. The moment of crisis is the time to pause, to postpone judgement, and to be gentle. And later, when the crisis has passed, we can see more clearly whether it’s truly time to quit or whether the challenges will mean needed growth for us.

So, here are my three tips to guide us when we are considering quitting.

  1. Don’t quit in the moment of crisis. There’s a slogan I love that says, “Don’t quit five minutes before the miracle  happens.” Don’t let the moment of crisis be the moment of decision. Relief and/or success may be just around the corner.
  2. It’s okay to pause (pausing is not quitting) when you feel overwhelmed. Go to bed. Step to the side and watch. Pull yourself out of the heat of the stress, temporarily. You may find that you can enter back in after a rest and do then what you could not do when you feel overwhelmed.
  3. Give yourself a set amount of time to continue your course of action before making your decision. That will give you time to see if your activity is fruitful. Make a decision to go to class three more times, or to work for three more weeks, or to try that activity for three more days. Whatever the time frame, it will give you space to move past the emotions of the moment and discern what is best.

Thanks for taking the time to read these lengthy posts. I pray that they speak to you and help you discern what you truly need to do when you are feeling overwhelmed or uncertain. I hope they encourage you.

Now, please join the conversation: Share in the comments:

How do you decide when to quit vs. when to press on?

Can you share about a time when you were tempted to quit but stayed your course and were so glad you did?

Or, if you did decide to quit something, how did you know that that was the right course?

Thanks for letting me be part of your life.

2 thoughts on “When is it Okay to Give Up? (Part 2)”

  1. Thank you for sharing Amy. I was blessed by your testimony! I have felt like quitting many times in a particular area of ministry, but it seems each time, I get a word from the Lord that encourages me not to give up now!

    1. Often, feeling like quitting is a sign that we’re under spiritual attack. The enemy is the author of discouragement. I’ve had that happen too. Often the word, for me, has come through a friend who can see that the discouragement is a form of attack. When I can see it for what it is and ask the Lord for help, then the attack loses its power. Thanks so much for sharing, Yolanda.

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