Go Ahead, Give Up

Grunge landscape with single tree

Image via kcisradio.com

Several years ago a higher ed colleague, whose position was grant-funded, lost her job when the grant cycle ended. She’d just completed her doctorate degree and thought for sure she’d have a new position in no time. So did I. She was well-liked, hard-working, creative, and delivered results.  Who wouldn’t want to hire someone like that?

For over a year she pounded the pavement, sent out dozens of resumes, had numerous interviews, and tapped into her network. The result of her effort  was no job offer. One day on Facebook, clearly frustrated, she posted, “I give up. It’s the only thing I haven’t tried.” She spent the next few months spending quality time with her kids and rejuvenating her tired body and spirit.  Come fall, she had a well-paying position in higher education. Two years later, through new networks she’d forged, she landed her dream job.

Her post and story have always left me wondering: When is it time to stop fighting and surrender? Is there a difference between surrendering and giving up?

I don’t know that there’s a right or wrong answer to either question, but I do believe that for each of us, there comes a time in our life when we need to stop the struggle and turn the fight over to a higher power. Whether you believe that power is God, a universal intelligence, fate or something else doesn’t really matter. What matters is that the act of letting go, of surrendering, is sometimes the bravest action we can take. It takes courage, faith, trust, and self-awareness to say, “You know what, I can’t do this anymore. I don’t know how to solve this problem. I need help.”

This is not a process for the faint of heart. Once we surrender, then we must wait. Waiting requires patience, something I personally don’t have much of, which is probably why too often I feel like I’m struggling. It also requires stillness, because only through stillness can solutions to our greatest struggles arise, sometimes like magic, into our awareness. I know this, because I’ve had such moments. Maybe you have, too.

So if what you’ve been doing isn’t working, go ahead and give up, consciously surrender. You might be surprised where it takes you. Maybe to places you never would have arrived at on your own.

21 thoughts on “Go Ahead, Give Up

  1. This is true Kim. I’ve said before that if it feels like an uphill battle, then that might not be the right path. I firmly believe that life is not supposed to be a constant struggle and things do work out as they are intended. Surrendering seems to require still doing work or little things towards what you desire, while giving up seems to symbol a defeatist attitude.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, Kathy, that life should not be a constant struggle. Interesting distinction between surrendering and giving up. I tend to think of surrender as a conscious decision to stop struggling after you’ve done everything you possibly can, whereas giving up seems to happen before one really even tries. I agree it’s defeatist. Thanks for commenting!

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  2. I think too many of us believe (as I did) that surrendering equates to losing. But you are right, it simply means accepting that we’ve done our best, but that isn’t working, and it’s time to admit that we need some help. I do believe in God, which helps me tremendously. But for those that don’t, I think there can still be a sense that stepping back and allowing fate, or karma, etc. to simply flow can be a good thing. It requires patience (not my strong point, either), but it’s can be a very sensible approach and often leads to good results. Thanks for making me think, Kim! You always do!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Isn’t it amazing when fate steps in and sweeps us away (but in a good way). This just happened to one of my students recently. I won’t go into the story, but he did take the initiative to start, and once he took that first step, a series of amazing “fateful” events took place. It was truly miracle-like. Thanks, Ann!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think I was in my mid-thirties, Kim, when I took on the precept or adage that if a door doesn’t open when you push it, then it’s futile to keep pushing. The trick is in gauging the point at which the ‘door’ is resistant to opening. So, in some instances, the test wouldn’t be the very first push, but a reasonable number of them. Overall, I’d say this works pretty well, and as your colleague discovered. 🙂

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    • Hi Hariod, I really like your analogy about the door not opening. I think the hard question is, when you’ve attempted to open it several times and it won’t budge, then what do you do? Stay in the situation that you were trying to escape from or find a new door that does open? And how does one do that? Maybe that’s where the surrendering comes in?

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      • I’ve found that I sometimes have to intuit that answer, Kim. Sometimes it may be a simple case of lubricating the metaphorical door’s lock – in other words I was approaching the situation from the wrong angle or with the wrong attitude – and so I stand back and hope to intuit a better way through. At other times I intuitively sense that even if I were to force my way through the door through dint of sheer will, then it’s not going to open onto the vista I’d anticipated on the other side. How often have you found that, or known people who have? So many people struggle to arrive at an imagined destination in life only to realise, when they do so, that it wasn’t really what they wanted. I suppose this all sounds a bit mysterious and woo-like, but I can only say that over the 30 years since I adopted this ‘pushing at a door’ analogy, then it’s worked just fine for me – whether it be in the material world, the spiritual world, or the world of the heart.

        Liked by 1 person

    • You are so right, Hariod. I have personally forced things in my life that I have come to regret because I didn’t listen to my intuition, but instead made ego-driven decisions. Our intuition is a priceless gift that we’d do well to listen to. Thank you!

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  4. I absolutely agree and can relate, Kim….and, spontaneous insights/revelations are so exciting because they are proof that I’ve been still long enough to reap the rewards. To my mind, surrender engenders peace…whereas, resignation spells defeat….and, the trick is to reframe the latter perspective by giving it to God and letting faith see you through to the other side 🙂 Which is just my way of speaking to the theme of your wonderfully-illustrative post 🙂 Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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