Monday, July 22, 2013

Had I But Known that Giving Up is Best

guest post by: Lauren Rieke

I've been wracking my brain for weeks trying to think of something that I haven't already written about (in a passionate but not at all grammatically correct way), won't make anyone fall asleep and I actually know something about. What a tough list, right?

I went through my regular list of "coulda, shoulda, wouldas" (to no avail) and ended up recounting my "expertise" in the areas of southern style sweet tea and attempting to control everything -ever. After amusing myself with significantly snarky "Had I but known" titles, a familiar tune can on my Pandora station. Ingrid Michaelson's song, Giving Up, brought me some much needed inspiration.

The very first time I heard this song, I wasn't quite sure what to think. I couldn't understand how a song about giving up could possibly be a love song. But after listening to it on repeat for about an hour, I realized that the song is incredibly catchy and isn't about giving up on someone at all, it's about giving up for them.

Let me explain...

It's been really difficult trying to come up with any solid thoughts in recent weeks. Life has been chaotic and nothing has been certain. There seems to be instability in my job and my husbands, job. My job directly impacts our housing situation. My hopes for family have been postponed, once again and new possible opportunities have recently knocked, provoking my fear of change and newness yet again.

My relationship with my husband has been strained. My relationship with (and faith in) the Lord has been seriously tested. My mental and emotional sanity has been in question. --but seriously-- I've spent many nights praying for my deepest desires, crying out for God to give us answers and contentment and peace. I've sobbed, I've screamed, I've allowed my spirit to feel completely numb. I've done everything except give up.

As a children and young adults, the idea of never giving up is drilled into us in hopes of inspiring greatness and diligence. We are told by Coach Vince Lombardi that, "winners never quit an quitters never win". All of our lives we are told that we have to work hard for what we want. We need to plan and prepare and set ourselves up for success. I'm not arguing against those ideas. I'll be the first on to say that hard work usually brings about positive results and goals can often be achieved with some good old-fashioned elbow grease and determination. But where does that leave me? Does not "succeeding" in my desires make me a "quitter"? Does it make me a "loser" as well?

I'm not the quarterback of a football team or the CEO of a fortune 500 company. I'm just a wife, a worker, and a hopeful heart in the midst of a scary world. And unfortunately, the things I'm most worried about, and hopeful for, are out of my control at this moment. I've worked hard, I've tried to make wise choices and I've been waiting for answers to come.

I've been trying desperately to determine the source of my discontentment and trying to understand why I've been so discouraged and why I've felt so let down. Deep down I think that I'm fearful that life won't be as exciting or as perfect as I once imagined it would be. I'm fearful that my closest relationships will end or suffer. I'm fearful that one wrong move, one unwise choice, will ruin me (us) forever. I'm fearful that my husband may not like the kind of person I've become. I'm fearful that the family I've always dreamed of is always going to be "just another couple years" away and I'm especially afraid that when the time comes, I won't have the ability to carry and I won't be a mother at all.

Perhaps my biggest life failure, so far, is my inability to be satisfied with this part of the pasture. I consistently long for the greener grass on the other side of the fence and regularly end up teetering on the balance beam, neither fully here, nor fully there. Perhaps my desires for future happiness need to be surrendered in order to be satisfied with the now. Perhaps I can use my fear of "missing out" to my advantage and spend my energy making the most of life in this moment. Perhaps giving up my expectations is what's best for me, my marriage and my career.

What if the greener grass I've been waiting for never becomes available? What if I really am missing out on something amazing because I'm too focused on the future? As Ingrid Michaelson so sweetly says, "I am giving up on half-empty glasses ... I am giving up on greener grasses ... I am giving up for you." And that's what I'm doing. Giving up. For my husband, my family, my friends and for God. I'm giving up on my ideals and expectations and putting my hope in the One who has something wonderful in store for me. I'm desperate to make the best of my life as it is today, with the people I've been blessed to know and care for. Maybe that makes me a "quitter", a "loser" or a fool, but personally, I think that giving up makes me really quite brave. It's the biggest goal I've had to fight for so far.

Lauren is a twenty-something, Christ-following, accident-prone, career-minded and family-loving woman. She married her sweetheart, Jed, in 2010 and moved from her hometown in Pennsylvania to Virginia. She has since been adjusting to being one of three "Rieke Girls" in a pastor's family. She loves sweet tea, asian food, singing and all things musical. She enjoys working with teens and young adults, helping the broken find their healer, and looks forward to someday having a family of her own. But for now... she's blogging, working, serving and trying to navigate everyday life with new jobs, student loans, new family, new friends, and a lot of hope for the future.

(Thank you, Lauren, for your bravery that I've seen in you far beyond your post today. Your love for life and your drive to live it as honestly as possible is an inspiration.)

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  1. I enjoyed your post, Lauren. Our society doesn't encourage us to give up our personal goals for anyone else, but that isn't always best. And I applaud you for desiring something higher than yourself. It will all come together as you go forward through your life in amazing, and sometimes not so amazing, ways. But it's all good. Eventually. (Don't ask me how I know.) :)
    And welcome back, Anna. :)

  2. "Perhaps my desires for future happiness need to be surrendered in order to be satisfied with the now." That was exactly what I needed today. There are several parallels between my life right now and the reality you depicted in your post. I'm constantly reminding myself that godliness with contentment is great gain, but evidently I don't listen very well. =) I believe I'll try your approach!

    Anna: I'm glad you're safely back on this side of the pond!


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