When is it okay to give up?

wave white flagDo you ever feel like you have stretched yourself too far?

Do you wonder, when you face resistance, if it’s a sign that you are off track, that you need to pull back?

Do you ever feel discouraged by the pace of your progress and wonder if you’d be better off investing your time elsewhere?

When is it okay to wave the white flag?

When is it okay to quit?

I came face-t0-face with these questions earlier this fall with my family and then later the same week in the studio. We learn things in the most mundane of life happenings that shape our character and, if they overflow into the studio and into our worship, can make us stronger. Here’s what happened and three tips to guide you when you think maybe it’s time to quit.

empty pageOn a Thursday night at 9 o’clock PM, by oldest, who started high school this fall after six years of homeschooling, pulled out an outrageously long assignment from his honors English class that was due the next morning. He was supposed to answer twelve paragraph-long questions, all of which looked difficult to me .
This kid had spent almost every waking hour that he had been home, since school began, doing homework, and he still had this monster of an assignment to do before class the next morning.

He was frustrated and stressed. “I’m going to drop this class!”

I felt protective of him. What are they expecting from him? This is too much! Should he switch down to regular English? Maybe we let him take on too heavy a course load.

I kept these thoughts to myself. My husband and I talked him through the challenge. We reminded him that he’s doing great adjusting to a whole new work load, that he could just take it one question at a time, encouraged him to talk to his teacher in the morning, show her what he had and to ask for more time. We told him that it was too early to tell whether he should drop this class.

He ended up going to sleep shortly after that, setting an early alarm, and finishing half of the assignment before school.

When I picked him up from school the next day and asked how it went he said lightly, “She was chill. She said I could turn the rest in later.” He finished the assignment over the weekend and has continued in the class, doing well.

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.

That 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.” Read More.