People who give up really rub me the wrong way. And annoyingly they are all around me.
-The man who stood on the street corner with a well-worn sign asking for money bothers me. I know. As a Christian people tell me I ought to have compassion and empty my pockets. But to me he has given up. If you have time to stand on the street corner then make the decision to use that time to get a real job.
-There are people on welfare who really need the benefits they receive. But there are others who use those benefits because they have decided to give up on getting a real job. Why? Because they have given up. They’ve decided to let the government take care of them.
-My beloved Chicago Bears appear to have given up on the season. As a fan I’ve seen ups and downs. Believe me: this is one of the worst seasons ever as a Bear’s fan. I can tolerate a losing record. But what really angers me is a “what’s the use” attitude. Some raging Bear fans are even suggesting that their beloved team lose the remaining games so they can get a better draft pick next year.
For crying out loud people just get in the game!
There. I said it. Do I feel better? Not really. Why not? Because as I banged out these words on my keyboard a disturbingly familiar voice on the inside asked, “Why are you so angry?”
That’s when it hit me. That’s when I realized my anger was not about beggars on the street corner, welfare artists, or even the Chicago Bears. The anger was all about me.
In an unusual moment of self-revelation it occurred to me that my rant is my strange way of telling myself not to give up. “How could those people give up?” is really code for “Don’t you dare give up!”
I don’t know how many people are like this, but I am great at starting things but not so great at finishing. To the man on the street corner, to the welfare artists, to the Chicago Bears, I apologize for my misplaced anger.
Don’t misunderstand. I’ve finished lots of things. I have three academic degrees. There are projects I started and finished well. But it’s always a struggle. It’s always a challenge. Giving up is so much easier. But the price of giving up is deadly.
Years ago I read a short story by Jack London entitled “To Build A Fire.” London allows the reader to follow the trail of a seasoned outdoorsman who is traveling solo in subzero temperatures through the snow. The traveller decides he needs to build fire to warm up before moving on. Through a series of mishaps he is unable to get one going. The extreme cold numbs his hands and mind. He becomes confused. He sits down in the snow feeling drowsy. And at this point in the story I want to scream, “GET UP! GET UP!” But he never does. Slumber turns into sleep. And in his sleep he slips away. Giving up is deadly.
I’m beginning to realize that I am the weary traveller. It’s me in the story trudging across the wilderness. I want to stop for a moment and take a break. I want to lay down in the snow and take a nap.
But there is always the voice. That inner voice which screams incessantly inside my head, “GET UP. DON’T YOU DARE GIVE UP!”
And so onward I go. Refusing to give up, I move forward.
Thank God for that inner voice.
Is there anyone else who identifies with these words?