When It’s Time to Give Up

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
Courage to change the things I can 
And wisdom to know the difference


Next month, I’ll turn 37.

While this birthday won’t confer any special privileges like voting rights, adult beverages, or Presidential eligibility – each passing year does bring about a deeper regard for the brevity of life.  It’s natural, for me anyway, to take an annual personal inventory.  Where am I in comparison to this time last year?  And so on.

As I get older, I’m trying to be more intentional.  I want past experience to inform future decisions – chief among them is deciding what to keep and what to throw out.

I’m interested in being me, not a caricature that conforms to someone else’s preferences.  Just the me I’m supposed to be.

Because life’s too short to perpetuate charades.

I’m working on being at peace with the decisions others make which I have no control over.  I assure you, this does not come easily.

I’m learning to place a greater value on forgiveness – which is a two-way street.  Inasmuch as forgiving others is a healthy, necessary part of growth, forgiving ourselves is equally important.

Because too often, we can be our greatest critics – heaping on mounds of unrealistic expectations and misguided disappointments.

There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind.
C.S. Lewis

It seems to me that some of life’s greatest personal baggage exists because of an inability to let go.  To move on.  Not just in a physical sense, but in the deliberate choices we make (or don’t make) to relinquish the past.

Sometimes we have to choose new pathways with intentional, but (somewhat paradoxically) uncertain futures – and live with the reality that unfolds.

I think this is what’s referred to as ‘faith.’

Our future selves are not solely defined by the past.  Resumes are not who we are, but rather who we were.  Who we are is revealed through the process of who we are becoming and how we choose to become that new person.  Resumes full of significant accomplishments are admirable, but if those accomplishments continue defining us today, we’re living in the past.

On the other hand, resumes bearing greater resemblance to rap sheets are never the final chapter.  What you’re doing today, what will be done tomorrow, these are the stories being written now.  The tales waiting to be told.

It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.
Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

We’re told to never give up!  To never give in!  But there are times in life when giving up is the only remedy.  The only way forward.  The only way to leave behind the past’s toxic grasp.

In this season of Lent, careful reflection represents an essential part of personal growth.  We can’t achieve growth through a stubborn unwillingness to loosen our grip.  It’s only through honest self-appraisal that we truly break free.

Best-selling author, Bob Goff, says you can quit anything on a Thursday.  Why Thursday?  I have no idea.  But, since today happens to be Thursday, maybe it’s time to give something up.

I am.

Follow Tim on Twitter at @Tim_G_Holland

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