You don’t get to quit

I am trying out the WordPress app on my phone and I discovered that it has a talk-to-text function. This might actually be a life-changer for my blogging since I’m often unable to access a computer at the time when I want to write down something quickly. Let’s see how it goes to add photos.

Well, that was easy!

So my sister and I were talking about the undeniable fact that parenting, with all its wonderful aspects, is utterly wearying. She is expecting her sixth baby any day and knows all about the adjustments to come with the beautiful little baby. She also knows how fleeting that squeaky newborn stage is and how quickly there will be a toddler making sure she doesn’t sit still too long. When we were discussing this she said something that I thought was profound, “When you feel sorry for yourself or depressed about how little time you have for yourself, the best thing to do is get up and do something for somebody else.”

This meshed with another conversation I had with a friend this week. She lost her husband in tragic circumstances a few months ago and is raising her family by herself. In the middle of her grief, she is refusing to pack her children off to school or daycare so she can indulge in “me time” even though many of her friends have counseled her to do that. Her focus is on serving her children and healing their sadness. She knows that God is with her in this daunting work that is in front of her. It is crushing and horrendous and He is with her and she will not sit down on the job.

I admire both my sister and my friend deeply for what they are modeling with their lives. In difficult circumstances we all tend to revert to a self-preserving, I-might-die-if- I-don’t-get-a-break, I-quit mentality. When I think of Jesus and now he never refused to give to another person from his resources, and I remember how he said, “When you have your hand on the plow, you don’t look back,” I feel the challenge. The field right there in front of you is your work. Get up and plow it. When I remember that He actually did die, I feel the puny weight of my measly problems.

I’ve done my share of private wishing for a live-in maid in my house. I’ve wasted time wondering what’s the point of beating back the chaos every day and is there even anything about cursive or geography or spelling that matters? I’ve fantasized about having a chef who will whip up nourishing meals for my children while I think about how to change the world. With this mindset, happiness is a slippery, unattainable thing and I know better than to indulge in it for long. In King James version, it’s time to “gird up the loins of your mind” when you’re in this place.

I suppose having a very practical personality might be helpful. I mean just get up and do something. I probably absorbed that advice with my mother’s milk, and I certainly heard it all my life as a child. Just get started with the glasses and the silver ware first. Just go comb your hair. Wash the windows so you can see outside. Don’t sit around and feel sorry for yourself.

Guess what?… it’s all true.

Newsflash: I am not here on this Earth to feel great about myself. In fact, the less I think about myself, the more likely I am to find the happiness I crave. Isn’t it weird how that works?

This is a principle of the kingdom of heaven that we get to model every day to our families and to the world around us. It’s deep and mysterious and very simple. Elisabeth Elliot would say, “Just do the next thing.” I am adding a little note to that, “You don’t get to quit.”

For your enjoyment I will include a recent essay my middle daughter wrote, but please do not mention that you read this on the blog. She is serenely unselfconscious and I’m confident that someday she will see the rich humor in her piece but probably not when she’s 10. You wouldn’t think that she spent an inordinate amount of time whining about her assignment by the matter of fact tone of her essay, but I’m afraid she did. She was supposed to write her own thoughts about a wise saying from years gone by.

“Benjamin Franklin once said ‘God helps those who help themselves.’ I think this means that many people want things that they don’t want to work for. You could wish all day that you had a cat, but if you don’t get up and buy one you won’t get one. If you want water get off your padooka and get some. If you want to learn how to speak Spanish, get someone to teach you. SIMPLE. Basically if you want something you have to work for it.”

(A bit of clarification may be necessary. “Padooka” is code in our family for rear end.)

10 thoughts on “You don’t get to quit

  1. Thank you so much for this! It came at just the right time. We are currently having a discussion on our church ladies chat about the stress of parenting and how some don’t really ‘feel’ like good moms because we’d sometimes like to do our own things or didn’t realize how much work and love it actually takes! I know, selfish. But anyway, your reminder about being on Earth for others was so good for me!! It sounds like you are teaching your daughter well😊😉 thanks again!
    This is Ernie Yoder’s Karla in case you wondered:) I started reading your blog because of Ellie:)

    1. So good to hear from you. And I don’t think there is anyone who is not a bit surprised by how much work it is to be a parent, or an adult of any career. 😊

  2. What a great boot to the padooka! 😅

    No, seriously. This is so, so true! “In fact, the less I think about myself, the more likely I am to find the happiness I crave.” Amen and amen.

    Oh, and a talk to text feature?! That could be really, really nice!

  3. Hahahaha! Your daughter nailed it down. Good job. 🙂 I would like to give that assignment to some of my children, thank you for the nudge here. 🙂
    Thanks for the other words too, a nudge to true happiness. It seems we need to be reminded of this time and again….and challenged.

  4. As always, I smiled somewhere along the reading of your post. That is one reason why I enjoy reading each new one. ☺this time the biggest grin was the word padooka. I love the ring of it, and a new word to reference a body part. It sounds like something out of the book cheaper by the dozen. 😜 Your daughter was spot on, which no doubt, is a reflection of what she has been taught.
    I dont have any children, so in case you fantasize about childlessness being a cure for the I can’t give up situations, let me assure you that there are still plenty of things in life like jobs and other manditory obligations that require a grin n bear it situation. Thanks for the reminder to think beyond ourselves and reach out to others for true happiness. As well as to just do it, and dont quit! ☺

    1. Your last paragraph is very true. When I see a person with an “I just can’t adult today” tee, I have to suppress an urge to shake a little common sense into them. It’s such a common temptation to all, but I doubt it was an acceptable feeling to express until quite recently.

  5. Today I was feeling inspired to make the right choice in the moment I’m in. So often I feel like a failure and the idea of changing so many things about myself looks overwhelming. However, in this moment, even when I don’t feel like talking to anyone, I can ask my son about the mouse traps he set and actually listen to him. In this moment when everyone is sure that it wasn’t him who turned on the light in the shop, I can offer to go turn it off myself. In this moment, instead of yelling around at someone else to do it, I can get up and pick up the papers lying on the tile floor so that my little ones who are running off energy don’t slip and fall on them. They’re just little things but the moments add up. This post is just what I need pretty much every day of my current life. 🙂

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