January 9, 2020

Dear Children: Please Don’t Give Up (Even Though No One Would Blame You If You Did)

Dear Children,

Please don't give up.

Please don’t drop out of the race just yet. Please don’t sit down when the finish line is in sight. You’re almost there. You can do it. You almost certainly won’t regret giving it your all, all the way to the end, but you might regret it if you don’t.

Don’t stop working hard in that class. Don’t decide that good enough is good enough in your walk with God. Don’t accept almost when you’re getting ready for that competition. Don’t abandon that hard-but-worth-it relationship. Don’t settle for halfway on that goal you’re working toward. Don’t prepare just most of the way for that big performance.

I know you’re tired. I know you feel discouraged. I know you’ve studied those notes, practiced that song, run that drill, rehearsed that speech, had that conversation, prayed that prayer, and reviewed that presentation dozens of times already.

I also know you cannot entirely control the outcome of whatever you’re working toward. You don’t know what God has in store for you. You don’t know for sure what will be on that test. You don’t know how good the other competitors are. You don’t know how your friend will respond when you share your heart.

The results of that test, race, performance, conversation, struggle, presentation, game, or contest might not be exactly what you’re hoping for. You might get a B...or lower. You might get second place…or last place. Your BFF might reject you. God might say “no” to your prayer. You might trip over your words or your feet in front of the crowd. You might not hit all the right notes. You might know disappointment.

But you do not have to know regret, too.

You do not have to add “if only” to this chapter in your story.

If you prepare as hard as you can for the challenge ahead, you still might not get the prize you’re seeking.

You may have to deal with disappointment. But you will not have to deal with regret, because you will know you did everything you were able to do. And in that, you will find peace for the moment and renewed hope for the future.

Disappointment is painful, but it is not nearly so painful as disappointment with regret heaped onto it.

Former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said, “Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.” 

You can do, it my loves. You can do the next bit of hard work. There is strength available to you that is not your own:

"Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint" (Isaiah 40:31).

Keep your eye on the goal.

Not only or even mostly the goal of winning (whatever “winning” looks like in this race), but on the goal of contentment without the distraction of “if only.”

Finish strong. Gain for yourself the prize you can control: completion undiluted by regret.

You can choose to take regret and “if only” out of your equation. And when you do, you’ll know the beauty of this truth: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" (2 Timothy 4:7).

Run on, dear ones. Run on.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to tell me what you really think. Years ago, I explained to my then-two-year-old that my appointment with a counselor was "sort of like going to a doctor who will help me be a better mommy." Without blinking, she replied, "You'd better go every day." All of which is just to say I've spent some time in the school of brutal honesty!