Wednesday, February 29, 2012

When You Feel Like Giving Up


I'm sitting in a parked car in the middle of the afternoon when I say those words I can't take back.

I can't do this anymore.  Do you understand that, God?  Do you?

There's no one to hear me except the One I'm accusing and I don't know if I say it because I'm angry or if I say it because I'm scared.

But once the words have tumbled out, it's as if there's nothing left of me but this haunting exhaustion I can't shake.  It's been building for weeks and I've been fighting it hard but this day's come and I'm saying what shouldn't be said.

And maybe this is the thing that really hangs in the air:

I don't want to take it back.

Oh, maybe there's a little piece of soul that wants to retrieve those words, tuck them away in the dark corner from which they've come.  But I've lived long enough and hard enough to know there's no healing in the hiding of the truth, even when the truth is ugly--even when we are ugly.

And mostly it's not the words I'd care to take back anyway.  It's the giving up.

But I'd be deceiving us all if I said I didn't mean it, said I didn't want to give up right here and right now.  Because some days are like that and today's one of those days and who do I think I can fool anyway when I don't say what I really mean?

So I let the words hang where they are and I let the tears slip out where they will and I breath in and I breath out and then I do it all again.

Because there's a trunk full of groceries that need hauling into the house and there's a meal to be made and there are things left in this day that won't check themselves off the list.  And sometimes the only way to get through the giving-up days is to just keep putting one foot in front of the other, even when we think we can't.

It's hours later when I'm in the car again, driving home under the evening's sky.  And I'm still breathing in and out, still wanting to believe that tomorrow will be better and I'll find a way to stick it out after all.

That's when I'm stopped short by the song coming out of my stereo and He answers my aching questions with a question of His own.
What are you going to say to God
when all you do is pray to God
to take the thorn away

and all you hear Him say is...

"my grace, my grace
my grace is sufficient
my grace is sufficient"

I let the words wash over, point me to the thing always forgotten on the giving-up days:  When we reach the end of ourselves, we reach right into the center of a God Who Is Enough.  Even when we are not.  Especially when we are not.

And I remember it now that Grace isn't a far-off word I don't understand.  Because haven't I seen it, counted it, lived it a thousand times over?

So what's really the answer to the giving-up days?

I shouldn't be surprised when I hear it sung straight out in the closing lines of this song He's singing at the end of this long and longing day.
What are you going to say to God
when everything you pray to God
came your way but you forgot
to thank Him

and all you hear Him say is...

"my grace"

And I'm tempted to say it here and now that this question isn't mine.  Because I'm praying to God for the things that don't change, the answers that don't come, the heartaches that don't mend.  I'm not the one with the answered prayers who forgets to count it all Gift.

Or am I?

Because aren't I really praying for this one thing--Grace to carry me through when there's nothing left to stand on, nothing left to lean into, nothing left at all?

And isn't that what He's already given a thousand times over, a whole lifetime over?

Yes.  Yes.

His Grace, it's sufficient, slipping over and under and straight through every last one of our days.  Even the giving-up days.  Especially the giving-up days.

So before I crawl into bed and wait for a new day to be born, I pull out the record of His Grace and scribble down gift after gift, grace after grace.

Because this is how I know it, this truth that His Grace is sufficient.  This is how I lay myself right down on the One Who holds when everything falls apart.

This is how I don't give up.


Linking up a few days late this week with Ann Voskamp


1275.  First phase complete in the long road of "letting go"

1276.  Last boxes taped up, labeled, stacked

1277.  First knitting project finished

1278.  Making plans to wear these handmade leg warmers

1279.  The doctor who's ready to take charge of my care

1280.  That mark on my arm where the blood's been taken

1281.  The only One Who gives strength for the hard road

1282.  The hard road.  Yes.  This one.

1283.  Day that begins with rain, turns to sun by lunch

1284.  Dinner in the crockpot, already cooking away by 9 am

1285.  All those happy smells filling the house the whole day through

1286.  Date with a friend, even when she forgets and I eat alone

1287.  Her walking through the door, me so happy to see her that it doesn't matter how long I've waited

1288.  All this laughter, love, life shared right across a table

1289.  Strength for all those chores

1290.  Money for all those bills

1291.  Hanging the birthday banner across fireplace bricks

1292.  Cooking dinner for Dad's birthday, all of us gathered around for the meal

1293.  That one song lyric we can't get out of our heads

1294.  Us laughing every. single. time. someone breaks out in that song

1295.  Loading a whole van full of pieces of the past.

1296.  Letting it all go and finding myself still breathing after all

1297.  Hours of clothes shopping with Mom, us trying on every jacket in sight

1298.  Coming home with that bag full of needed things

1299.  Two days of unexpected sun

1300.  Tiniest purple crocuses poking up beside this busy road I'm driving on

1301.  Bundled up with hot drinks in hand so we can sit outside in the winter sun.

1302.  Him singing to me on the drive home, reminding that Grace is sufficient

1303.  Bird's nest in the tree by the highway, silhouetted against evening's sky

1304.  Haze around the crescent moon on this cold, cold night

1305.  Those two planets gleaming bright beside the moon, just for this brief space in time

1306.  God Who fills up all the spaces of time with Himself

8 comments:

  1. Thanks for the wisdom Courtney! It really helped me to know, after a day like today, that I am not the only one who feels like giving up sometimes. Good stuff! Love ya!

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    1. @Andrea: So good to find your words here in my little corner of the world! You are definitely not alone in the "giving-up days." So glad you found some encouragement here and I pray that you will continue to find strength for whatever challenges you are facing these days. Much love to you, Dearest!

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  2. I love you Courtney! And His grace IS sufficient! I tell myself all the time too.

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    1. And I love you, Christina! (I have *such* a hard time not writing out your whole name--do you remember me calling it out in the Old Ecola hallways back in the day? Including your maiden name and soon-to-be married name? Ah yes. *Those* were the days!) Thank you for sweet words here, Friend. "His grace is sufficient" should be the mantra for all of us walking with Him in this crazy hard world. Grace to you, Friend.

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  3. A beautiful post that smells like hope! "When we reach the end of ourselves, we reach right into the center of a God Who Is Enough" Yes. Exactly.

    This is a new song to me, and I thank you for sharing it. You bring to mind Zephaniah 3:17, which you probably know already. Just in case, here it is in the old NIV:
    "The LORD your God is with you,
    he is mighty to save.
    He will take great delight in you,
    he will quiet you with his love,
    he will rejoice over you with singing."

    Brava, sister, for the knitting project, meal outing with a friend even though I know that depletes energy for chores, and clothes shopping with your Mom (ditto). Happy birthday to your Dad; my sister's is this week.

    More grace, much grace, and peace to you in our Lord Jesus Christ.

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    1. @tinuviel: I *love* that you are catching the scent of hope here. I have been feeling like a broken record (well, a broken everything, really) lately and fearing that I'm not getting across the hope part of the equation in the midst of all the grieving and struggle. Thank you for affirming that He is still shining bright. Yes, I love Zeph 3:17. Thank you for quoting it back to me because it breathes sweet grace into my soul every single time I read those words.

      May we both recognize His sufficiency here at the end of ourselves. And happy birthday to your sister!

      Much love, Dear Friend!

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  4. Courtney, i'm so sorry that lately the road's been exceptionally hard: it sounds like things have been both exhausting and scary. it must be especially hard to deal with both of those things at once, because (at least in my experience) they make each other worse: challenges become more daunting when we feel we have no spare energy to invest in overcoming them, and fear makes our energies drain away. it's a vicious circle...

    my prayer is that, as God helps you through the long slow process of "letting go", He has already started to, and will continue to, turn all that around. the first phase of letting go has been completed--boxes taped, van loaded--and that's one exhausting thing that's been done, and won't need to be done again. it was also a frightening thing to do; but you've done it, and as you say, you are still breathing after all. i'm praying that at every stage of the letting go, God will not only get you through, but also comfort you and encourage you, telling you in no uncertain terms: "see: one fewer thing to do, and one fewer thing to fear. There are still things to do and things to fear, but I will get you through every one of them as as well: I love you too much to do anything else."

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    1. @Chris: As always, you are very wise :o). Yes, I think the exhaustion caused by all the physical labor these past weeks has heightened the emotional aspect of all this letting go--and then the heightened emotions only exhaust me further. I held up much longer than I expected under the circumstances, so that is at least some measure of good news in regard to the long road of physical healing. Now it's a matter of figuring out how to rest and recover while still going about the business of everyday life--and then to tackle the second half of the "letting go" project. But you do encourage me here with this reminder that what's been done doesn't need to be done again--that the progress made is progress I don't have to struggle through again. Thank you, thank you, thank you for prayers and encouragement. Honestly, there are no words to tell you how grateful I am for the incredible measure of grace you pour into my life. May you be blessed a hundred times over for your kindness to me!

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