“It is not over ‘til the fat lady sings” – Unknown
My version of that saying is that ‘it is not over until God says it’s over’. To be honest, holding on to anything (a marriage, family, friendships, dreams and expectations) can be excruciating especially when everything that you see (sense) signals that it’s not worth it. IT being the energy, the stress, the good wishes and even prayer. Yet we keep on pushing.
Why? Because we tell ourselves, once there is life there is hope and even a glimmer of ‘good’ spurs us to think that there may be better days ahead. So, we hold on. But wait a minute! Aren’t believers called to endure because there is salvation or a prize at the end (Matthew 10:22; Philippians 3:14)? But how do we do that without losing our joy? How do we, like Paul in Romans 5:3-5, glory in tribulation?
In this post I want to address ‘not giving up’ in relationships that look like they are in trouble. How do you keep pushing through in a relationship that by all accounts looks like it’s on its last leg? Do you make decisions based on what you are experiencing or based on a promise that you were given?
Relationships are the backdrop of our lives and when they are good, we feel productive, energized and alive with hope for the future. When they are challenging, they drain us mentally, physically and emotionally. They even drain us to the point where we wonder if investing spiritually makes sense. I’ve been there and I’m still in the trenches, so I know whereof I speak.
Giving up after a battle (long or short) is easy because you can calculate what you have invested against what you have gained or lost. If there is little or nothing to show for your investment, you have all rights to cut your losses and close shop. No one will fault you for that. “At least I tried”, is what you tell yourself. It helps you make it through the day without feeling like a failure.
Let me digress here just for a moment. This is what I’ve learned. Winning or losing has much to do with our perspective – qualitative or quantitative. And some wins take the scenic route. It might be worth your while to hold on for the ride, as rough as it may seem. There is so much to gain/learn even when it seems like you have lost.
Take a smile break here with me. Now back to our regular scheduled programming.
Here it is. It’s the ‘hanging in there’ that takes work. It’s the ‘hanging in there’ that takes a tenacity and a gumption that is super-human. For goodness’ sake, it takes crazy faith, but sometimes even while we are faithing it our focus is shifted from the prize to the pain and we begin to lose heart. Here comes my favorite phrase, “after all, we are only humans, right?
What makes it worst is that we sometimes allow what others think or say to dictate our response to what we are going through. And some people mean well, but I’ve heard that even in a birthing room, empathizing with or feeling for the mother in labour holds up the birthing process. What helps is encouraging her to PUSH and giving her a picture of what awaits at the end of all the hard work and pain. That’s what I’m here for. To give you that PUSH.
My friends, sisters and brothers, there are so many examples in the Word about crazy faith and tenacity in the face of pain and what looked like impossible situations. But what comes to mind as I ponder the resolution of “I’m Not Giving Up” are questions like:
What if the children of Israel had stopped on the 6th day of their prescribed 7-day march and said, well we don’t see any indication of this Jericho wall cracking and falling, so let us just pack it up and go back to our tents? (Joshua 6)
Or, what if Jesus on that pre-crucifixion night had given up in the garden of Gethsemane as he agonized in prayer for the world? (Matthew 26:36-42)
And what about our mothers? Women were created to endure 9 months of discomfort, some at high risks to themselves and their precious cargo. But what if they give/gave up in the middle of labour pangs and decide(d) not to push anymore? Do you get the picture?
As I count down to my year of Grace 5.1, I am compelled to be more honest with myself. I’ve been called determined and until I heard it articulated, I had never looked at myself that way. But truth be told, I am tenacious when I believe in or for something, especially if my cue is coming from my Heavenly Father.
So, I’m standing in the kitchen and I’m thinking about my legacy – what seeds will I sow into my son’s life to the third and fourth generation? What past, present or future strongholds will I break or enforce in his bloodline (DNA) because of a decision I make today. And I heard myself say out loud, “I’m not giving up!” And I can hear you saying, “Why not, Susan?” “You have all the reasons in the world to give up”, …or so you think.
Do you know what else I heard? I heard that
- God is God (Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnipresent)
- He knows my end from my beginning (Isaiah 46:9-10)
- He remains faithful (2 Timothy 2:13)
- He is well-able to sustain me in any storm
Therefore, if we say that we are children of the King and we follow His lead, then we should allow God to make the pronouncements in our lives, even when the obvious is staring us in our faces. We should allow Him to pronounce the “Yeah” and “Amen” in any situation, because until He does, we aren’t really sure we’ve made the right decision.
Our job is to continue to pray unceasingly for the salvation and deliverance of our spouses, children, families, etc. To listen intently to the voice of God, and to speak words of life against all odds. This may require you to step away from a trying situation for a while to work on yourself and to get a fresh perspective. If you can, nothing is wrong with that. It may require you to say to your partner or family member, we need the help of a professional to sort through our mess, but whatever the case, giving up is not an option.
Don’t get me wrong, there are extreme cases where persons need to just call it quits. I am not talking about those. I am talking about cases where you may have started wrong, but God is able to take what ‘is’, and work it out for your good. Cases where right in the middle of things going right someone may have gotten distracted and lost their way. Don’t give up. Give God scope to work His ‘exceeding abundantly’ miracle.
I don’t know about you, but I am not allowed to give up on my marriage, my family (immediate or extended). I’m not allowed to give up on the people that God has placed in my community. I believe that God has given me a particular kind of grace to endure, so I can only speak for myself. However, if I experience an ‘end’ or a ‘the fat lady has sung’ moment in any relationship, it wouldn’t be because I gave up. It would be because I concede to the All-knowing One, that says, “Susan, this is an Omega moment”.
I always say that my life is not my own, so I don’t have the choice to do whatever I feel because I may have the right to do so. And what people think really does not matter in the bigger scheme of things. I’ll not be guided by my emotions especially if they are contrary to what God says about me. I may look like a fool or sound like a greater fool but I’m subscribing to an institution that God Himself created and sanctions even today. His promises contain the ability to sustain me even in difficult times, so I allow Him to hold me.
And as I wait for His verdict, I will continue to persevere in prayer. I will continue to self-improve – live, love, laugh and grow. I will continue to hope. My holding on or giving up, my fighting or retreating depends on my counsel from and my confidence in a God who is well “able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we (I) ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us (me)”(Ephesians 3:20). He IS the Alpha and the Omega of everything, so it is in my BEST interest to be party to what He is doing, right now and in the future. Otherwise, I don’t have a clue, and it shows. Wouldn’t you join me in repeating this mantra? I’m Not Giving Up!
So, here’s to not giving up!