When is it okay to give up? | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

I remember, as a little girl, memorizing, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. ’Tis a lesson you should heed try, try again.” (Credit goes to William Hickson, British educational writer.)


Looking back, despite a pretty dismal track record, I don’t think I was ever a quitter. Sure, there were hits and misses in my personal life. Who does not have those? Some of my friends faithfully remind me of my stumbles and vehemently dissuade me from trying yet another time. “A la tercera va la vencida,” they tell me. And I don’t think they mean that the third is a charm.


Seriously, I have been close to throwing in the towel in other situations, more than I’d like to count. But I didn’t.


A friend crossed me several times, but I came back for more. Even today I try to understand her and adjust. Should I give up? Or do I wait until she comes around? How often must I turn the other cheek? Friendships are too precious to casually toss aside.


Through the years I have learned to be careful and not attach the word “friend” to just another fellow traveler. It hurts less to see them go.


But I believe that in matters of the heart, when almost a lifetime is invested in a relationship, it is especially difficult to end it. And it is as agonizing to stay and rough it out, as it is to find the door. There always remains a vestige of what used to be.


Walk away


My old friend tells me, “When a relationship is shattered, sometimes it is best to walk away. Rebuilding may be possible, but only if both of you are willing to pick up the pieces. Maybe you can repair it, but remember only God restores.”


Life is not an easy journey. The way is rough and the climb too steep. We make choices that may haunt us for the rest of our days. But we must make them. We cannot stay on neutral. And we make mistakes. We all do.


But when is it okay to give up? When is it right to “pick up your toys and stop playing”? When is the game over?


They say that if a relationship brings out the worst in you, it is time to say goodbye. I agree.


There’s a gentleman I know whose nature it is to doggedly pursue, never mind if he has fallen flat on his face. “I guess I just don’t want to be told that I failed,” he says. “So I ‘pick myself up, dust myself off and start all over again.’” He bears scars for all his efforts but wears them proudly.


Today I chant that same old ditty for my children and grandchildren. I don’t know if they listen, but I figure it won’t hurt them to hear it. They need to know that nothing is lost until you stop trying, that failure happens only when you quit.


Many give up when success is just around the bend. Have you found out too late, that one more try, one more step is all you needed to capture the prize? Ouch!


A few Sundays ago our message in church was about never giving up on ourselves. That in our pursuit for righteousness, we must turn away from gossip, lust, dishonesty, anger, envy; undeterred by obstacles, not discouraged by a slip or a fall; never looking back but always pressing forward.


How simple that sounds. But how painfully difficult it is to keep your faith and continue your walk when everything you have done weighs you down. My pastor says, “Don’t let it.” That’s easy for him to say. But when the conscience is full of garbage, of filth we want no one to see, what do we do? He tells us: “Take it to the Cross.”


How do we get rid of the wickedness around us? Where do we start? We are sure to meet violent opposition.


Wave the white flag


Mighty forces will rise up to wage war. Do we capitulate? Wave the white flag? Scurry away?


Or worse, will you get on their bandwagon because it is easier, safer, to join them? Or will you stand your ground?


Why am I thinking of politics in the same breath?


The circus has come to town and the clowns are not funny. It is frightening to imagine what lies ahead.


But we cannot be cowed into indifference or inaction. Complacency is tantamount to giving up.


A friend of mine who has always been super involved in anything political seems to have thrown in the towel. Asked what she thinks of the present state of political affairs, she shrugs and says, “I have long given up on that mockery. Only one or two still catch my fancy. But I can’t even second-guess what they are up to. I have seen some of the best and the brightest turn into the biggest crooks.”


Is it really so hopeless? Is it worth discussing the names and numbers?


I have heard that getting to the top position is all a matter of destiny. That makes very good copy. But the handlers and wannabes have begun playing with smoke and mirrors. Charlatans are on, center stage. Soon we won’t know the difference between destiny and doom.


I tell myself I want no part in this farce. But a song pops up. “I have high hopes, high hopes, high apple pie in the sky hopes.”


Just when I feel we have exhausted all avenues and that the search to find that one last good man (or woman) is over, I remember these wise words: Don’t be discouraged. It is often the last key in the bunch that opens the door.