The Animal Name Game is one of my family’s favorite road trip activities. It started when our son was very young and now it’s part of our travel routine. He selects a category, for example “things that fly,” and we each take a turn building the list. My husband and son are fierce competitors and as the game advances their creativity does too.
It’s not long before “owl” on one turn becomes a “horn-beaked gray owl” on the next turn. Eventually, I announce, “I give up.” This is really mom-speak for this is getting too tough or I want to take a nap.
Society generally frowns on quitting. Some see it as a loser mentality, but millions have perfected it. It is easy to stop caring or communicating in a world where we can unfriend someone with a click or use a substance to change our mood. However, unlike my exit from our family game, the decision to stop trying to meet a goal or halt commitment to a mission carries a lot more weight.
My moments of defeat are not framed and hung on my wall. I’d rather display sweet memories and successes that frame my gratitude instead. And yet, giving up can become an art form.
When I operate on overwhelm or become side-lined by fear, excuses and fault-finding start painting a picture of why I should quit. If you’ve ever been tempted to walk away, hold back, or hurt back you know what I mean.
But the desire to give up shouldn’t just prompt us to do less; it should position us to become more. As I give up to God, I rise to meet life’s challenges through the life He gives. I become more dependent on Him, more sensitive to His desires, and more encouraging to those around me.
When I give into my circumstances, I forfeit receiving the peace He longs to give, the people He wants to reach, or the purpose He wants to fulfill. Emotional and spiritual exhaustion is often a sign that I’m hanging out in the wrong gallery. I need to see the picture of what God has in mind. It is personal. It is powerful. And it is always liberating.
The act of Jesus giving up His life so I could have His redemption empowers me to stay the course – His course for my life. If giving into discouragement is depleting your soul, here’s some good news: the art of giving up can become a spiritual discipline. When life’s demands or devastation are about to drive us crazy, faith throws us into a different gear. Instead, we are driven to the throne of grace. (see Hebrews 4:16)
In God’s presence, we can give up our pride, pain and fears, while growing confident of His promises and more obedient to His call. That’s when giving up becomes a masterpiece. It is a beautiful surrender and it gives hope to the heart and joy to the soul.
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” – Ephesians 2:10