“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no point in being a damn fool about it.” W.C. Fields
When I was in 10th grade, after five years of clarinet I was being groomed to be the drum major. Now, the honor was slightly less substantial given the tininess of our school, but nonetheless, I was RIGHT on the cusp of being REALLY good. A little more practice and effort and the Red Coat Band would have been in my future.
My reasons were many, and validated to this day (that’s another LOOOONG story)
I Regretted it. Every single day for a long time. A tiny part of me will regret it forever.
The lesson I learned was:
Even when it sucks.
My college transcripts are a testament to this. I only withdrew from one class in the entirety of my entire college career and my lowest grade in any course was a D in Algebra 101. (It was later redeemed in the Math for non-Math majors–aka the rest of the world). I suffered through Spanish. I cried through French. I (literally) puked through my last year at Grady.
I sweated and cursed and blogged through seminary.
I didn’t quit.
In my last 3 years teaching I was given the responsibility of overseeing the Georgia Young Authors competition and then I had the audacity to beg for the Yearbook. Both were extremely painful and only one was gratifying in any capacity. About a year ago, I swore off writing and threatened to quit this. However, language, Jesus, teaching and the intermingling of the three are my soul….so,
I didn’t quit.
In August I started a new position in a new school. After learning there was mandatory training for “new” special education teachers I was disappointed but I went. Monday after Monday I was stuck in school until 6:30, with an additional hours drive home. And oh, this year the stipend for attendance was gone. Many of my colleagues would leave early or stopped coming all together.
I didn’t quit.
In my spare time When I can I have been working my way through Lysa Terkeurst’s The Best Yes. Let me tell you, the struggle is real. It is all about being present, listening, watching, and allowing God to show you opportunities for giving a Best Yes. “Making wise decisions in the midst of Endless Demands” is the catch phrase. Making lists, seeking wise council and making the best choices.
Perfect for me right?!
So I have been all about looking for opportunities. And one was dropped in my lap.
The week before Christmas break I got an email. ESOL endorsement was the subject. I read the application. I felt a tug.
- Abelardo, our sweet boy in Mexico speaks Spanish. I want to visit him. I want to teach in foreign country someday…..
- I want to get out of Special Education….
- Less paperwork…..
- My administrator would be impressed.
The application said the cohort would start in the Summer.
I went to Nathan. I gave him my list.
Just because I applied didn’t mean I’d get accepted.
Nathan said go for it. I got an email THREE days later saying I started January 5.
And today ladies and gentleman, after a total of 15 days of reading and doing course work
I “failed” an assignment I worked very hard on, and this past weekend I worked for over 20 hours on a paper that when I turned in I had zero confidence regarding my performance or whether or not I’d met the expectations of the instructor.
On Sunday as I banished the children to their room for hours, I felt my soul screaming at me. When I finished, I asked Nathan what I should do….
“I don’t quit things. What do you think I should do?”
I was embarrassed that after just finishing my masters (which was insanely hard y’all…) I couldn’t seem to hack it without significant sacrifice to my home life and overall mental well-being.
Nathan calmly asked, “Do you want another day like today?”
I was instantly flooded with all the promises I had made this sweet man about giving US my all….. “as soon as the yearbook was done….as soon as I graduated…..as soon as we moved…. as soon as…..”
So I owned my poor decision. I decided not to plow through the suck because my children and my spouse deserve my presence. I notified my administrator and said, “I made a mistake.”
“Wisdom is our silver lining. Wisdom will help us not make repeat the mistakes we’ve made but rather grow stronger through them.” ~ Lysa Terkeurst, The Best Yes
His response was, “I completely understand.”
I second guessed my decision to quit because I AM EMBARRASSED. Academics are supposed to by my thing. And if I were honest, I have probably muddled through a LOT of difficult things (situations, jobs, relationships) because I was to embarrassed to back up and say,
“I’m sorry, I think I made a mistake.” Oh, how much grief could have been spared!
Terkeurst says, “As long as you desire to please God with your decisions, no decision you make will be completely awful. Nor will any decision you make be completely awesome. Every decision is a package deal of both. Every thrill has an element of risk. Every leap of faith has its moments of uncertainty. And every great success story has elements of failure…“
Sunday in small group a sweet 8 year old boy said to me, “Sometimes when I am praying I can’t tell if God is speaking to me or it is my own thoughts….”
Well kiddo, ME TOO! Apparently I need some work on this. But! I am going to hold on to THIS truth. Right now these are my words to live by. I have found a little bit of freedom in the discipline of allowing myself to give up.
Do not be paralyzed in decision making. Do not be crushed if you fail. Do not be stunted if your choices are wrong. Be emboldened by the freedom that comes from finding your strength and moving toward the SOMETHING that you are or can be better at;
like being awesome when you make the wrong decision.