Hello again. It’s me.
It feels like a million years since I’ve visited this space. The truth is, it’s been seven months. Two more and I could wax poetic with metaphors of giving birth to new things.
But I won’t.
Seven months is long enough to keep Donald Trump on the front page. Long enough to suffer multiple crises of confidence. Long enough to log into my user dashboard to find 485 new spam messages offering me cheap pharmaceuticals and ample Russian brides.
Note to self: update anti-spam software.
I’ve had a lot of starts and stops here. It’s embarrassing, all this trying, not trying, trying again, giving up and trying again. It would be infinitely easier to stop writing and bury this space along with various hopes and dreams. But I can’t bring myself to do it.
I was reading a blog post this summer by author Sarah Bessey. She wrote about quitting—actually, to be fair, the post was about not quitting. It struck a chord, because quitting and I have this thing going. It’s a problem. I have a very loud and shouty inner voice that is relentless in its criticism of pretty much everything about me.
My writing. My parenting. My performance as a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend. My weight. My health. My spiritual life. Nothing is off limits and when I give that voice airtime I never measure up. Ever. And the offshoot of that, naturally, is I deflate, lose steam, give up.
Unfortunately, I give it more airtime than it deserves.
But I was reading Sarah’s blog and was stopped by her words. She wrote that when life gets hard and it feels impossible to keep going, the greatest act of faith she has in her arsenal is stubbornness.
She writes, “Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Keep showing up. Keep praying, keep standing, keep working. Even if there are days like today, days when you feel like the only success was that you didn’t quit, then you are still there – I call that a victory of its own.”
Well, if there’s one thing I can relate to (and several people close to me can attest to) it is stubbornness.
Over the course of my life, I have often been accused of being stubborn, always framed in a negative way. From early childhood, it was a refrain I knew well. “She’s stubborn as a mule.” We all laughed about it then.
A strong-willed child is cute when her first word is an adorable “No!”
When she asserts her independence—“I can do it by myself!”
When she insists on putting her own shoes on the wrong feet every. single. time.
A strong-willed child will become a strong and principled adult, isn’t that what we hope?
But in order to become that strong adult, I believe the character trait needs to be re-framed into something that is channelled into something positive.
As a child, my stubborn nature kept me in conflict with my parents and, often, with my friends and siblings. As an adult, it has been the source of marital strife and conflict with my own children. In fact, it’s a pattern that I see repeating itself in the next generation, as my children dig their heels in and I condemn that attribute in them. Heaven forbid they become like me!
For some reason, I’ve made it ok to pour my stubborn nature liberally all over my closest relationships, but when that loud and shouty inner critic starts up, I roll over and play dead.
Well, that’s not ok.
So, here I am. Showing up after seven long months of silence. Bringing words that are imperfect, yes—they surely don’t measure up to the standard of my inner critic. But at least they’re honest words.
Maybe a few of you can relate?
“Hello, my name is Janine and I’m stubborn.”
Join me. Let’s turn this around and re-frame a character trait that has been given permission to destroy—dreams, relationships, and confidence—for way too long, into a God-given attribute that will propel us toward obedience.
Keep NOT quitting.
And let us not grow weary of doing good,
for in due season we will reap a harvest,
if we do not give up.
*Sarah Bessey is author of Out of Sorts and Jesus Feminist, two books—each unique in its message—both beautifully and articulately express the struggle and tension many Christians find within the church, while trying to live out Jesus’ mandate within the world: to act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with God. You can find her at sarahbessey.com
*If you’re like me and have a thing with quitting, maybe it’s time to quit that thing? I highly recommend Five Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit, by Nikki Koziarz. Written from a Christian perspective, weaving the story of Ruth through real life application, it encouraged me to spend some time digging deeper into why I give up on some things so easily and how to work through it and past it.
Fall is always a time of renewal and reflection for me. I often refer to it as my second “New Year.” So, it’s often in Fall–with the return of some structure and routine to our lives–that I resurrect my habit of writing. You may notice a pattern if you peruse my archives.
At least I’m consistent in my inconsistency!
If you’ve enjoyed this little musing, feel free to subscribe to receive future blog posts. (Scroll down to the bottom of my Home page to where it says “Subscribe.”) I don’t promise that they’ll be consistent, or inconsistent, but I’ll try for amusing. At the very least, I hope you’ll come away feeling a little better about yourself.