On down days and not quitting

A reflection from Ron Buford (UCC Daily Devotional) on John 21:1-25:

…Jesus then teaches them one more lesson. He asks Peter, ‘Do you love me more than you love these fish? Don’t you remember? I called you away from the safety of fishing for fish to fishing for God’s dangerous dreams and dreamers on the earth. Though you feel like quitting, don’t quit. Though you will surely suffer for it, don’t quit. Others will get rich financially and you won’t, but don’t quit. Keep loving through the mystery of uncertainty to experience a sustaining abundance of Divine joy…just don’t quit.

It all started when a friend of mine posted something on facebook about having a down and depressed day and how while her usual impulse would be to withdraw this was her way of putting herself out there instead.

And that resonated me, because I’ve had those days when for some reason I wanted to run as far away from my life here in China as my legs could take me, when while I wanted so badly at 4pm in the afternoon to phone a friend and hear a familiar voice that’s 4am EST and everyone else is sleeping, and when I just wanted an inkling of comfort and peace about the unknowns in my life.

But at that particular moment, I didn’t go there.  Instead in my head I replayed the words a wise friend has spoken to me about how she would be worried about me if this–all this despair, fear, anger, anxiety, and helplessness–were my normal, but it’s not.  It’s just something that’s happening to me, but it’s not me, it’s not my entire life, it’s not who I am, and so it’s okay.

Her words mean so much to me not only because they echo the promise that this too shall pass, that the sun will indeed rise the next morning, but also that having these moments of doubt and despair, like the disciples, like all human beings, don’t define me, and they don’t make me a quitter.

When I think about the urging above not to quit, and the way the disciples, the saints, and the martyrs suffered for it, I feel a tad guilty at first, but then (when I get over my own vanity) I’m mostly just encouraged that if they can stick out this life of faith, this whole living radially into who God is calling us to be and that uncertainty, than so can I, so can you.

Because is it not the definition of grace that those who truly love and know us don’t judge us by our bad days, but who we become in spite of them?  So if you were feeling down today, take heart, don’t quit, God’s got too many plans for you…and me.

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2 thoughts on “On down days and not quitting

  1. I had a very similar experience during my Ph.D. I often feared I would never come out of the darkness. It is such a battle to press on, keep doing the work, and not give up–to sit and write in solitude for days, weeks, months on end. I actually watched the Lord of the Rings a bit much during that time–it’s a great analogy to the journey: trudging on despite the fears, demons, and lonely burden knowing ultimately it is you who has to complete the test, pressing on even when you begin to doubt you will ever return. Take comfort in knowing even people who don’t go to the other side of the earth also doubt their decisions about the journey and despair over whether the light will come out again.

    1. Thanks Lisa for your comment (and your companionship). One of the reason I put these feelings to words (even when I’m a little embarrassed to do so) is so that we don’t feel so alone, so your comment is really encouraging to me. Thank you!

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