I Almost Quit Writing This: How the Gospel Transforms Our Giving Up
This week’s post is written by Becca Wellan, a member at Redeemer who makes bomb mac n’ cheese, constantly shows everyone pictures of her (very adorable) niece, and doesn’t actually quit everything.
I’m a world class, A+, allstar quitter. Just hand me a shimmering gold trophy, a tye-dye tee-shirt and one of those awful generic coffee mugs (for my collection, of course). Let me just say, I’m a rockstar:
I quit swim lessons. Gymnastics. Ballet. Guitar. Piano. Climbing trees. Riding my bike. Skateboarding. Choir. Photography. I quit sports before I even started. I would’ve quit my education after high school, if my parents didn’t make me to go to college. Apparently they knew I had it in me. Apparently, they were right. But I could’ve studied education, human services or psychology; I quit before I started.
I’ve spent my life on the dusty sidelines. Some people find it (or, me?) boring. But it’s a comfort thing, really. A second-hand savior from the crushing mental weight of failure, embarrassment, disappointment. Soon after trying something new, I give up when it gets too difficult or when, let’s face it, I’m just pretty awful. Or, I quit before I even start.
You know, I’ve always believed, fiercely, that my worth is directly tied to how good I am at doing “fill-in-the-blank-with-just-about-anything-and-you’ve-got-me.” Identity struggles have always hit me hard, very hard, even leading to times of mild depression. And sometimes, giving up seems like the easiest, safest option. There is no razor-sharp pain in quitting. There are no scars.
I can’t be the only one who’s felt this way.
Can I tell you something wonderful? Something that, if we fully embrace it, will transform how we see the quitter inside us (trust me, it’s in all of us):
Jesus. Never. Quit.
Jesus didn’t quit while He hung on the cross, even though He could have.
Before time began, God had a plan to bring a messy bunch of broken, rebellious, hard-hearted people (who will give up all the time, by the way) into the greatest joy imaginable; forever spent in glorious heaven, where there will be no more pain and no more crying (Revelation 21:4). Where they will be finally free. Free from the suffering that will surround them in a sin-stained existence.
But His plan included excruciating pain. Pain encompassing all the suffering anyone who trusts in Him will ever feel.
He knew it, too. Before He was captured by Roman guards, He asked His Father if it’d be possible to quit, as fear and anguish gripped Him so hard He sweat drops of blood (Luke 22:44). But with you on His mind, He “set his face towards Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). There, He hung from a cross, the weight of all your sin crushing Him hard, enduring the punishment that should have been yours.
He set His face towards Jerusalem, determined. He “endured the cross,” because of “the joy that was set before Him” (Hebrews 12:1-2). Part of the joy set before Him was this: He knew that by His death and resurrection, He would save you. You’d finally be free from the haunting of hell, because on that night He would take your hell so you could have His heaven.
Nothing, not even the scorching flames of hell, would keep Him from running to come grab you in your mess and say “Do not fear! I have redeemed you. I have called you by name; you are mine!!” (Isaiah 43:1).
But what if He gave up? What if He said, “she’s not worth the pain” or “he doesn’t deserve to be free”?
Then our worth really would be directly tied to how good we are at “things” because this world is the the only thread we’d have to cling to. If He gave up on us, the love-shaped hole inside us would gape open until we die and spend eternity tortured. Either guilt would eat us alive or pride would blind us like a scorching sun and we’d arrive in hell with bloodied knees and unhealed wounds.
But we can breathe, because Jesus didn’t quit. We can live, because Jesus didn’t quit. We have hope, unbreakable, because Jesus didn’t quit.
Jesus never quit, so we are free.
Because we have this truth to cling to, because Jesus took the punishment for all the times we quit, all the times we place our identity in our performance, there is no condemnation for us (Romans 8:1). Why do we condemn ourselves?
We are no less valuable to God, whether we give up or become the best-ever at “fill-in-the-blank-with-something-awesome.” We are no less important because we don’t have the same talents, degrees, jobs or intellects our friends have. Our value is fixed, because we are given value simply by being His kids. No amount of talent or skill can change that. No amount of giving up can change that.
The more I soak in the fact that Jesus didn’t quit on me, the more I’ve learned that it’s okay to sit on the dusty sidelines. I’ve also learned that it’s okay to try and fail. It’s okay to not be everything I think I should be. I don’t have to bear the mental weight of failure, embarrassment, disappointment. Why?
Our identity cannot ever be “failure,” even if we fail. Our identity cannot ever be “quitter,” even if we quit. And as we try and fail, or do not try at all, we can rest because this world is not all we have to hope in.
“... and I’ll never, ever have to be afraid. For this one thing remains; Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me.” // One Thing Remains, Jesus Culture.