Image by Lorida Bukholder

Image by Lorida Bukholder

Here’s something to add to your New Year’s resolution list: quit something. It could change your life.

As a woman who loves lists and is motivated by long ones, I have a tendency to overcommit. I am also a stubborn person who has a hard time admitting defeat. There is a subtle, but powerful message floating through the minds of women everywhere: “Quitters never win and winners never quit.” Quitting is equated with failure.

But think about this: God created us to be wise stewards of His creation, and recognizing our limitations is a healthy part of that stewardship. Women who can graciously say, “I quit” are happier and more restful. Why? Because they understand that they are neither capable enough nor called to be the manager of the universe. They are freed to move on to more meaningful things.

Saying "I quit" is one of the most brave decisions a woman can make. It is one she makes not based on momentary emotions, but the best long-term good.

I have personal experience with this. Several summer ago, some friends and I enthusiastically entered an Ultimate Frisbee tournament. The heat of the day was overwhelming. Temperatures climbed to the upper 90’s and there was only brief cloud cover to give occasional relief. Between games, our team collapsed on the stubble next to the water cooler, panting and hovering just south of delirium (you think I’m joking!). I secretly hoped we would get eliminated. Then I thought we should just toughen up since most of the other teams seemed unaffected by the blistering heat. While we languished on the sidelines, they spritely ran complex plays, skimming over the cracked earth in Underarmor jerseys that still smelled Downy soft. 

Late in the day, we got schooled twice in a row by one such team. We watched despondently as our names were slotted for two more games: the championship round. Sure we were excited we had made it so far, we were exhausted and genuinely starting to fear the effects of the relentless heat.

As we halfheartedly struggled to our feet, the team leader said, “Guys, maybe we should forfeit.” There was silence. Then, as we stood there, knees knocking and dripping with sweat, we looked at each other and laughed. It seemed so ridiculous—running all day in dangerously high temperatures, chasing a Frisbee up and down the field, all for the hope of a $30 gift certificate to Buffalo Wild Wings. 

We celebrated how far we had come. And quit. I sat under a shade tree and watched the playoffs, feeling nothing short of joyous relief. 

Our team could have stubbornly forged ahead, finished the tournament, and risked further damage to our health. Instead we acted rationally for the long-term good and avoided a trip to the hospital for IV fluids. 

We women need to develop a healthy awareness of our abilities, needs, and limitations. As we do, we can recognize, “It is best for me and everyone involved if I step back from______”. This attitude is not weakness, but a humble acknowledgement that my human insufficiencies no longer render me the best one for the job. 

Image by Lorida Bukholder

Image by Lorida Bukholder

Here are some principles I use to decide when it’s time to take a step back.

WHEN THERE IS NO FORWARD PROGRESS
In any relationship, job, project, or ministry, it is important to keep tabs on forward progress. Are your efforts producing positive changes in yourself or the situation? Can you look back and trace a path of growth? Remember that the initial phases of a project are often marked by learner’s stress; this does not warrant a permanent leave of absence! However, if after wholehearted investment, the project stalls or even digresses, then perhaps it is time to consider a step back.     

WHEN CONTINUING WOULD CAUSE HARMFUL CONSEQUENCES
This may seem obvious, but ironically, it is a factor often ignored. When persisting in a pursuit will certainly lead to spiritual, physical, or emotional harm, stop. Take some time to honestly evaluate what is driving you to continue. If there are red flags or concerned advisors, be cautious of a compulsion to keep going. If the ship is sinking, humble yourself enough to climb into a lifeboat. This does not make you a failure, but may actually spare great pain in the end. 

WHEN THERE IS A PERSISTENT LACK OF SPIRITUAL PEACE AND MOVING ON DOES NOT VIOLATE A SCRIPTURAL PRINCIPLE
An unshakeable feeling of spiritual unrest is a sign that we should move on. Sometimes the reasons why are clear.  However, other times, all seems well and there are no obvious reasons for the growing sense of unrest. To help bring clarity, prayerfully decide what steps to take next, consult the Scriptures and trusted spiritual counselors. Your taking leave should never violate scriptural truth or be an excuse to get out of something hard but important—such as your marriage, your purity, or your faith.

WHEN IT’S NOT WORTH THE COST
Raise your hand if you’ve said this: “If I would’ve known how long it would take, I never would have started.” Yeah, me too. While any worthwhile project demands hard work, sometimes we just plain miscalculate what it’s going to cost. When this happens, our tendency is to feel that because we have invested so much (time, energy, money, etc.), we should keep going to avoid losing what we have spent. A better approach is to ask, “Is the value of this project worth the extra time/money/energy it is going to require to finish it?” If not, revise the plan. Don’t forge ahead with an impractical idea just because you started with it. 

TAKING INVENTORY
In the demanding arena of life, what is most important to you? Maybe today, starting right now, we should take inventory. Ask yourself, "What do I need to quit so that I can keep my own heart healthy and pursue the most important things?"

All the glory of creation came about because the Creator hand-molded it to completion. The glory of our lives is wrapped in the promise that He will finish the work He began in us. The Lord never leaves loose ends; He always finishes what He starts. It is because we bear His image that we also yearn to complete. 

Yet, we are imperfect. This old earth is broken. Sometimes we make bad decisions or miscalculate our resources. Sometimes life gets messy and we aren’t able to finish what we started. When this happens, give yourself permission to gracefully recognize that a fresh start is needed. 

This year, make a commitment to eliminating the excess and harmful from your life. Start this week with the goal to quit one thing that is unnecessary, ineffective, or distracting - whether it’s that boring book, an annoying habit, a job going nowhere, the plateful of food you are too full to finish, or a project that is stealing time from your loved ones.

Quit something and create space for what is most important. In my book, that's not a failure - that's a success. |

 

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