Stopping Too Soon!

Our culture struggles with sticking it out. We have difficulty keeping commitments. Difficulty persevering. Difficult times in a marriage often lead to divorce... difficult times in family relationships lead to cutting people out... difficult times in training and teaching our children lead many to seek a newer, flashier parenting method... difficult times in a job means it's time to get a new one.

Life has not always been so very disposable. People stuck it out. Perhaps it was because they knew that even though bad times come, good times will come again. This is part of the curse of easy mobility, and of living in a non-communal society. It is also a result of having so very many options from which to choose. Sometimes, too, I feel like we (generally speaking) stop things before we give ourselves a chance to get good at them and develop endurance and skill in the tasks/roles we're being asked to carry out.

All marriages go through times of difficulty, no matter how strong the initial feelings of being "in love" are... the ones that stick it out aren't those that are perfect, but rather, those that make it are those that don't quit. All parents go through seasons of difficulty with their children-- whether it's personality conflicts, difficulty in understanding a particular age/season, disobedience, physical disabilities, just the daily needs, or other struggles. All workers go through times of disliking their job.

All mothers face times of realizing that their own strength and wisdom is not enough to get them through... but instead of turning to God in those moments of weakness, fury, or desperation, children get abused. Or abandoned. Or left to, essentially, raise themselves. Or left to be raised by culture. Even by Christian parents.

But just because something is HARD does not mean we need to stop it. If we all followed that logic, no one would ever run a marathon. Or build a skyscraper. Or manage a business. Or make it to a "golden anniversary" of fifty years married to the same person. Or get a doctorate. Or raise a child without bailing on him/her before they are raised.

We as Christians need to be aware of the draw of this mentality and not run away when things get tough. Our Lord warned us-- "in this life you will have troubles". There are some things in life we can count on, and that is one of them. So instead of just thinking, "MAKE IT STOP!" whenever we face struggles, let's yield to the pressure of our maker, knowing that the Potter doesn't make mistakes... when He puts us into difficult situations, He has purposes in them.

Sometimes the solution may include looking for a new job, or finding ways to "solve" the problem. But, generally, I think we as a people (me included!) need to learn more about perseverance... sticking it out when the going gets tough. What say you?

31 comments:

Claire said...

So, so true. This goes along with the lack of personal responsibility that is expected of people. If something is hard, if you do something wrong, blame it on someone or something else! :(

I think each generation becomes more and more depraved. I am working really hard with my kids to teach them that their actions have consequences, and that doing hard things is good for them. There is actually a book out for teens called "Do Hard Things."

http://www.therebelution.com/dohardthings/

I haven't read it yet, but I plan to.

Anonymous said...

When I was a young believer, I read "if God is for me, who can be against me?" and I read that He works all things for the good of those who love Him. Naively I thought that my life would go very well moving forward, having entered into relationship with the Lord.

Within the first year I experienced some very serious disappointments as well as some Christian friends behaving in pretty non-Christlike ways...

Since then I've encountered churches that seem to foster expectations that were/are similar to my own naive ideas.

So rarely do I hear teaching about suffering and trials, like this: "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. (1 Peter 4:12-13)."

If we (I) run away when there is difficulty how will we (I) participate in the sufferings of Christ?


A moose

ladyakofa said...

A lurker coming into the light! :)
I find it striking, I've been reading and meditating on Hebrews 10:35-36 since Sunday, which talks about sticking it out.

Terry @ Breathing Grace said...

Like I've said many times, we, Americans in particular, are addicted to comfort.

Aubs said...

I couldn't agree more! Life is hard, marriage is very hard at times, being a parent is hard but all of these things can bring such joy if we DO stick it out! If we diligently pray and rely on God's wisdom and not the world's thru the hard times then and only then can we experiance life the way God intends for us to! And what an important lesson to be intentional about teaching our children!

I love to look back at the hard times i've faced in life and see how much i've grown and how God has used those times to draw me closer to Him! What an awesome God we are so blessed to serve!

Kris said...

You know, I've often wondered what these comfort-addicted non-stick-it-outers think they are going to "rest" from in the afterlife? If Heaven is truly a place of rest and comfort, what, praytell, should we expect THIS life to be other than work and sorrow?

Dani said...

great post! I think you have to work hard for all the great things in life, when you give up you are usually missing a wonderful blessing in the end.

Janel said...

I've been working on a post with a similar topic since September. YOu been reading my draft folder again?? lol

We need to stop viewing relationships as disposable. Easier said than done though...

Lana said...

Some people see bumps as a sign that we can never have a perfect marriage (and often completely give up).

Others see trials as essential for a perfect marriage.

Bethany Hudson said...

Thank you, Jess! And, I think you hit the nail on the head when you talked about our society being non-communal. Without genuine, strong, accountable community, it is really hard not to listen to that little voice inside saying, "Just move on; there will be something better if you do."
~Bethany

Steph VG said...

T I M E L Y, Jess! Needed this especially today - not for my marriage, but for the women's ministry I head up at our church. We've been dealing with some difficult things - won't go into all the details, but I have been ready to quit. Tonight is the monthly leadership team meeting and "Future of the ministry" is an agenda item - not making decisions, but just talking about where to go from here. Your post will be in handy as we seek to make a wise decision.

Polly said...

This is so true! My Dad used to say "nothing worthwhile is ever easy" and in general I have found that to be true--whether it was in academics (getting my law degree), my career (practicing law) or being married and the mother of a toddler (now!). Not that it's hard all the time, but just that the *good things* present challenges and it's SO worthwhile to just stick it out. Especially in marriage and parenting!

Catherine R. said...

Jess, this is really good and applies to so many different areas of modern life/ our culture.

One of the best things that ever happened to me is when I realized life is not about happiness (as much as holiness). Still I am trying to break my, as Terry says, addiction to comfort and I fail frequently.

Interestingly I have never been less unhappy after this realization.

Perserverance is so rare today that it seems people have collectively decided it's not worth it. Anything that takes longer than 5 minutes is just unbearable.

Jessica Rae said...

You know, I have to keep reminding myself that this world is in a fallen state. (Not that hard to see) I know, but it was not designed to operate in the way it does today.
It's chaos out there. People want their lives to be perfect. Even Christians can EASILY fall into this thinking.

We forget that we are not promised nor called to indulge our every desire; to live the most beautiful, comfortable lives possible; to be as perfectly, personally fulfilled (in terms of fleshly desires) as possible, etc.
It's exhausting. It's enough to make me want to check out, just look up and wait for the Lord's return. But I can't live that way-we are IN this world, we have no choice, but we don't have to be OF it. It's getting harder and harder to keep those worldly mentalities from creeping in, but we must be diligent to persevere in the ways of the Lord.

Romans 8:18-19 "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God."

Erica said...

I say, "ouch!" I really needed this just now... thank you!

madgebaby said...

Oh my, this is good.

I was just having this conversation today, and reading this was like a drink of cold water.

Thanks.

mary grace said...

I couldn't agree more. I see so many people--Christians--who fail to muster the courage to stick with it ... and who are failing to pass on the character of perseverance to their children. What ever happened to "Let us not grow weary"?

Mrs. S said...

I don't have time to read all the comments as it is late and I am exhausted! But I agree totally! We know more than one family that is bailing on their financial responsibilities, not because they can't afford to make payments, but because making those payments puts a crimp in their lifestyle...ironically enough it was their lifestyle that got them in the financial mess they are in!! And we know a few families that are struggling because the husband decided the marriage wasn't worth working on...it is a sad state of affairs! There is no integrity, no responsibilty, no accountability, in our society! But it isn't just them, it is us too. We all have the desire to run when the going gets tough. We need to run to the Lord and not away from Him!! Thanks for the reminder Jess.
On a side note: It starts young. My son has told me three times this week that he "quits school" when we work on reading. He is five and in kindergarten! I told him "Not a chance buddy boy!" LOL!

hannah's mom said...

jess-
I really appreciate your blog. this post was such an encouragement to me tonight. I have a friend that is have huge struggles in her marriage and my heart has always been stuck on perseverance. it has been hard to encourage her in that, feeling like I am "going against the grain" but I have not felt comfortable in encouraging her any other way. I was finally able to tell her that tonight (before I read your post!) and was just really supported by reading your post later on. thank you for your committment to Christ in your life. it has definitly made a great positive impact in my life.
your sister, ashley

Lauramamadoula said...

what say I? I say hurrah! you are so very right.

sticking it out seems romantic, til you're in that place. I think that is what happens to people they are disillusioned that the hard times aren't hard if you love each other enough. well, they are. hard times are hard times. and when you weather through a few and learn to love one another through hard times and work as a team, then yes, it is MUCH EASIER. but it ain't easy!

in general our nation (perhaps world) is a bunch of sissies (myself included). and the thought of being in difficulty is just too much to bare - running away or searching for happiness elsewhere is much more appealing.

A Marriage After His Heart said...

Jess,

I tried to read this yesterday, and didn't want to finish it. It was almost like a second witness to a convo that my pastor and I had during a counseling session Tue night with my husband and I on some natural matters.

He told me that I need to ask God to help me deal with stress, because its not going to stop coming into my life, and I can't always run from it. Of course I didn't agree, but then yesterday when I read this, I was like " here we go again" but I appreciate the 2nd witness that God allowed in your post that I just need to put on my big girl panties and tough the hard stuff out.

So I am trying to eliminate the prhase "stressed out" from my vocabulary. Allowing oneself to become overtaken by a "stressed out" mentality often leads to wanting to stop or be removed from what ever is "stressing" them out. Ultimately it leads to jumping out of a test too soon, or jumoing out of the refining fire too soon. Thanks for this post! It was right on time.

Anonymous said...

Sticking it out is vastly underrated.

If you talk to any couple who's been happily married for decades (and they are honest), they will tell you that they had their ups and downs, but they worked through them.

Too many people get married without realizing that they will inevitably have a few bumps, and those rough patches do not mean they married the wrong person, or their marriage is doomed.

Also, it's easy for a person who may be depressed or unhappy for reasons that have nothing to do with the marriage to blame the marriage for the unhappiness. By the time they figure out that getting divorced won't magically end their unhappiness, it's too late.

For instance, a couple may divorce because they have different parenting philosophies. It would be much better for them to try to compromise and work things out while staying under one roof. Otherwise their fears and anger about each other's parenting will be compounded, because now they will be leaving the children completely in the care of the ex-spouse on certain days and nights.

I know too many couples who divorced without ever seriously trying to save the marriage with the help of a neutral third party (counselor). Or, they didn't see a marriage counselor until things had badly deteriorated over a number of years.

Clearly some people get married for the wrong reasons, or are in an abusive situation, and for them ending the marriage may be the best option. But I am all for people sticking it out if possible.

Laurie B

Abbi said...

Great post! It really made me think of a young woman I have been working with to try to teach her about Christ and living for Him. Her childhood was not good and she has been in many relationships, lived in many places, lost children to the state, etc. As I have been trying to teach her simple things like running a household, sewing, etc. She enjoys it for a little while but then finds it hard and says "You are just talanted in that area, I give up!" We are working to get through that because she is realizing that she does have to keep at it but still it is really hard for her as she is used to alwasy just giving up.

I so agree that "not giving up" is a huge part of strong marriages. It isn't that you stay together just because you have too all the time, but you don't give up during the struggles and then the marriage comes around to being a beautiful thing again.
Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

How very true. This past year I've definately been running from some tough stuff and on doing so running from God. I think both my husband and I have come to the conclusion we need to either fish or cut bait and trust that God will give us what we need when we get to those bends in the road so to speak. Thanks for the timely reminder.

-Jen k

Heather said...

Hey Jess. Been reading your blog for quite sometime now. Recommended by a friend a couple of years ago. Wanted to ask a question about "sticking it out". What if you've been struggling to add to your family through pregnancy, but keep having miscarriage - five to be exact - how long does one keep trying? Is that a situation to stick it out? (Yes, we've done all the testing - al of our m/c are "unexplained".) Is it time to move on to another way of adding to our family (i.e. - adoption) or do we just become content with the one precious gift we've been given in our daughter. Just a question. Thanks! God Bless!

Leah said...

Amen amen! Sometimes the easiest thing is to 'jump ship' or 'opt out' but sticking in there forms our characters, makes us more like Jesus and brings blessing and growth!

Catherine R. said...

I with "Marriage after His heart". We all need to put on our big girl panties!

Robert said...

Thank you! I have been going through one of those seasons where everything seems to be difficult. Thank you for the reminder to stick it out and let God do His thing.

Erin

Ruth said...

I agree with Laurie,
I've also stuck it out when I thought the problem was in everything else but me, and discovered things about myself that would have remained undiscovered had I opted out.

Sticking it out doesn't always mean quietly staying in the situation, soemetimes it means separating oneself from it in order to "flush the bad out", get a fresh view of it, and step back in when you've renewed your strength.

I think one problem with the "stick it out doctrine" is that we misunderstand what it means. We try to bear the burden, allow others to abuse us (typical in abusive marriages or families), don't communicate, and then we wonder why we are burnt out!

I think we have to see the difference between opting out and taking a break.

Ruth said...

Jess,
One more point I've been mulling over while I washed our lunch dishes.

I think there is a difference between sticking it out to achieve our MAIN goal, and sticking it out with a certain method or approach.
For example, hard times in a marriage may be a result of a bad approach to whatever situation is making it hard.

You say:

" Difficult times in a marriage often lead to divorce... difficult times in family relationships lead to cutting people out... difficult times in training and teaching our children lead many to seek a newer, flashier parenting method... "

I know by experience that all these can be a result of a wrong approach to them. In marriage, we often reach for a book to help us wade through a problem, not realizing that our problem, however similar it may be to the authors, is OUR problem, created by two different people. Changing the approach, for example, by seeking marital counselling, could greatly reduce the sticking it out time.

Same with family relationships. I have one difficult one that I've had to evaluate. Right now, I'm taking a break, but I know I'll have to seek a new approach if I want to keep the relationship at all.

With children's teaching and training, one thing that helps me is to know that my commitment is to raising my children to be godly, not to some method. I'd much rather change my tactics than capitulate, any day!

Mrs. Anna T said...

Spot-on post for this brand new, sleep-deprived Mommy. :o)))