If You Feel Like Quitting…

Everyone feels like quitting sometimes.

Stephen King is a prolific writer and probably one of the most well know and successful authors in modern history. Yet, he felt like quitting early on.

I read that one night, his wife was taking out the trash and found three crumpled pages covered in cigarette ashes. Out of curiosity, she pulled the pages out of the trash and read them. When she had finished reading the wrinkled pages, she took them to her husband and encouraged him to keep writing.

Those discarded pages eventually became the book Carrie. Carrie was not only one of Stephen King’s most successful books, but was adapted into four movies and a broadway play. And yet, he was going to quit writing it after three pages!

It’s easier to quit than to push through to the finish. We just don’t call it quitting. We disguise it by saying things like…

  • “It’s just not a good time to do this.”
  • “I’ve found something else that interests me more.”
  • “I was wrong to start this.”
  • “I’m just not cut out for this.”
  • “I can’t put in the time and effort this requires right now.”
  • “It’s too hard.”

As a pastoral counselor, I hear from a lot of spouses that are ready to quit on their marriage.

A few of them have good reason to consider quitting. There has been abuse, or infidelity, or abandonment. And in some of these cases, the offending spouse continues to repeat the offense or is unwilling to change. These are very difficult situations that may be out of the spouse’s control and certainly require expert help.

But many of the spouses I talk to, who feel like quitting on their marriage, got to that point for lesser reasons than abuse, or infidelity, or abandonment. Many of the spouses I talk to who want to quit on marriage, got there because of:

  • Failed expectations.
  • Lack of attention.
  • Waning communication.
  • Widening gaps in sexual appetite.
  • Evaporation of common courtesies.
  • Failure to pursue one another.

These things are all bound to happen in marriage from time to time. When they happen on an occasionally basis, it typically doesn’t cause a person to want to quit being married to their spouse. But, when these things happen on a regular basis and accumulate over the years, they build up feelings of hurt and resentment that can seem insurmountable. More often than not, this is what causes a spouse to say things like:

  • “There’s just no chemistry between us anymore.”
  • “Maybe we shouldn’t have gotten married.”
  • “We got married for the wrong reasons.”
  • “We’re just not good for one another.”
  • “If it’s this difficult, it can’t be right.”

If you feel like quitting on your marriage, you’ve probably felt, thought, and maybe even said some of these things. But let me remind you that in every good story you will find…

  • Dark and difficult seasons.
  • Characters who struggle with one another.
  • Plots turns you didn’t expect.
  • Resolutions that don’t play out until you get all the way to the end of the story.

These things don’t make the story bad. They actually contribute to making the story good…if you stick it out through the story.

So here’s the bottom line. When it comes to your marriage…

If you feel like quitting…don’t.

Walt Disney once said,  “The difference in winning and losing is most often not quitting.”

Like Stephen King, you may be ready to crumple up your marriage and throw it in the trash. But with some time and some work, your marriage could be a rewritten. Don’t let your current frustrations keep you from a creating a future masterpiece.

I Can See It From Here. Why Not Take a Break?

Finally, Dorothy and her traveling companions come out of the dark forest. The sun is shining, the air is clear, and the field before them is filled with colorful flowers swaying in the wind. When they come over the hill, they see it! The Emerald City! Gleaming on the hill against the bright blue sky. Dorothy has dreamed about this place and she has pushed hard to get there. The end is finally in sight!

Eager to complete their journey, the travelers joyously pick up the pace. Then something happens. The Wicked Witch of the West casts a spell and they begin to tire. Their long journey catches up with them, and all they want to do is to stop and take a nap. They feel they can afford to take a break, because they’re so close.

They’re so close…yet so far.

The Scarecrow, unaffected by the witch’s spell, knows they are in danger. He instinctively knows if they stop now they will never reach their destination. So he tries to keep them awake and urge them on, but one by one his companions begin to fall asleep.

Then, when all seems lost, Glenda the Good Witch of the East, initiates something very unexpected. In the middle of a spring-like day, snow begins to fall on Dorothy and her friends. This out-of-the-blue event revives the travelers and they rise to finish their journey.

After facing your “lion,” things can seem a little lighter and brighter, as if the dark perils of the journey are now behind you. After all, you have made some good progress and gained some great traveling companions. With the end in sight, you are ready to finish this thing up.

Then, the long and difficult trip starts to catch up with you. You start to feel fatigued and you begin to think, “Why not take a little break? After all, I’m closer than I’ve ever been. I can see the destination from here. Why not rest a little?”

When this happens, you are in danger of being lulled to sleep. The thought of settling for “close enough” will anesthetize you. Yes, you are closer than you have ever been, but you are not there yet. You are stuck between where you have been and where you could be, and if you stop you could stay stuck for a very long time.

Don’t get me wrong. It is important to pace yourself, but pacing yourself does not mean stop.

This is where you need encouragement to keep moving forward. This may come from those further down the road than you. It may come when something completely unexpected (like cold snow on a warm spring day) hits you and reminds you that all is still not well. Whatever it is, don’t let the desire for a temporary respite keep you from reaching your goal. You’re not there until you’re there.