books, spiritual life

Is it time to ‘give up?’

“It is a mistake to think that moving fast is the same as actually going somewhere.” Steve Goodier, inspirational writer

If America had a universal religion, one of the top tenets of the faith would be, “Never give up.” Whatever our color or nation of origin, we are frontiersmen — determined to the bone. But, sometimes, we might be better off drifting into apostasy.

The wrong-headedness of universal relentlessness can be seen all over the place. Among children, sports and extreme academics are pursued no matter the physical injury or state of mental exhaustion. The god of success forbids that anyone even think of quitting. Young adults up the game by devoting themselves to endless years in college and endless hours of work pursuing careers that require a lottery-style win to secure they are so rare.

Among the mid-lifers, particularly among women, there’s a growing refusal to let go of the appearance of youth. It’s not just people in Hollywood. There are plenty of ordinary American women who will stop at nothing in this pursuit — surgery, strange drugs, excessive exercise, starvation and a staggering variety of cosmetic procedures.

If aging is unacceptable, dying is now seen as outright failure. We rarely use the word “die” as a culture, in fact, even in obituaries. Instead, people “pass after a long battle with…” Those long battles often include grisly and insanely expensive medical treatment that brings misery to the one dying and to their family.

Yes, we do all these things and many more, convinced that our dogged pursuit of a goal is not only a guarantee we will get what we want but is also a form of righteousness. The difficult thing is, sometimes that’s at least somewhat true. Determination can  bring what we want and can be admirable. Other times, however, it’s a form of self destruction disguised as positive action.

How can we tell the difference? It’s tough. I ask myself this question regularly: Is anything I’m pursuing harming me or my family? This has been a particularly tricky question in terms of writing. After nearly 30 years in the business, I recently chose to step back from one venue that was making me so unhappy it was spreading into my family life.

Is that “giving up?” Yes. And, no. What many Americans see as “giving up” can also be seen as a change of direction, a re-focusing. Think about it for yourself. Is it time to “give up” on something? If we’re talking about life, hope, marriage, caring for one’s children and so on — no. If we’re talking about a pursuit that is hurtful — you may surprised the answer is yes.

It’s true. There are times when “giving up,” is simply the wisest thing to do.