Don’t Quit!

I had a wonderful conversation with a small cadre of ladies yesterday that has left me pontificating about men, love, life, and relationships—the subjects of our engaging chat. There is hardly a conversation that I’ve been engaged in where the topic of men, love, life, and/or relationships didn’t surface at some point. It doesn’t matter if you are at work, school (and for some of us those two are one in the same), church, at the park, or on the beach, these topics will at some point be in rotation. Does that mean that women have little else to expound upon? I daresay that is true. But I will confess that I never tire of talking about any of the aforementioned topics. Does that make me predictable and/or boring? Perhaps. And I’m okay with that. I’m okay with being a woman and never tiring of “girl talk”.

What has stayed with me from yesterday’s conversation is a matter of character. One of the ladies spoke of a rift that had recently come between her and her boyfriend. The two have been in a relationship for the past fifteen months, and as of late, a couple of incidents have forged a gulf between the two of them. This woman, whom I had just met, wasn’t necessarily seeking advice from any of us, and none of us sought to provide her with any relational “pearls of wisdom” to be quite honest. It was more about lending an ear to a sister who was going through an experience (and for a couple of us, a relatable experience). I’ll be the first to admit to never trying to give anyone relationship advice given my history of unsuccessful ventures with men. And quite frankly, that’s what I shared with the woman I met yesterday. I hardly ever feel confident telling another woman what she should (or shouldn’t) do when my relationship report card is full of failures. Nevertheless, we were analyzing the circumstances and at some point I said something to the effect of actions saying a lot about a man’s character. To put this into context, the woman had mentioned that her boyfriend hadn’t really been speaking to her and their living arrangement had begun to be awkward. However, he admitted to struggling with some things internally, but wasn’t comfortable and/or willing to talk about these issues with her. So the woman suggested that her boyfriend talk with her pastor. After some reflection he accepted the offer. And that’s when I made the point about his openness to speaking with her pastor as a positive sign and being a reflection of his character as a man. The fact that he was responsive to talking to her pastor, and had maintained an open line of communication with her, says something about his character—in my humble opinion. And when it comes to finding a mate, character is without a doubt an essential quality (a deal maker or breaker).

And as I left the beach I began to think about my series of unfortunate events with the male species. I mulled over one failed relationship after another. I thought about the role I played in those failures. And I came to one conclusion: I want a man who is brave enough (or crazy enough—given one’s point of view) to stick around when the “ish” hits the fan. I think most of us want someone by our side who won’t run at the first sight of turmoil. Personally, I know I give men (friends and lovers) grief because I’ve been trying to find that one man who can handle the heat in the kitchen. I know that I’m far from perfect and will never reach such a state, but I do admit my shortcomings and try not to allow them to rule me. But I am adamant about acknowledging my vices. I am convinced that relationships are work, hard work. Perhaps they are even more work that our jobs/careers. That being the case, I’m okay with that. But I can’t be okay with someone who doesn’t recognize this truism in life and isn’t willing and/or able to buckle down when the storms of life come. All that being said, I’m in search of the man whose character proves that he has staying power—the power and desire to stay around when I get ugly (physically, spiritually, and emotionally—just naming a few here). I’m holding out for the man who realizes that life is about change, and neither one of us will be the same people we are (were) when we first met, but he’s a man who is interested and invested in knowing who I’ll become in a year, a decade, or even longer. I’m waiting on that man whose motto is “I ‘Don’t Quit’!” I don’t know if they make them like that anymore, but there remains a glimmer of hope that he’s somewhere out there, and one day our paths will cross.

No woman (and I would presume the same may perhaps be true for men, but I don’t dare assume anything) whose invested time and emotions into a relationship for any extended period of time wants to throw in the towel at the first sign of struggle. If anything, we (the tenacious) tend hold on never wanting to let go even when we know in our heart of hearts when we’ve lost the battle (and perhaps the war). So many of us hope beyond hope that there is chance for redemption—be it our own or our mate’s. We remain hopeful that even when the terrain on the road of life has become treacherous. We don’t want to give up, to throw in the towel. We strive to make it work in the face of imminent failure. But that’s what tenacious men and women do—we try as we might, but we just don’t quit.

In closing, I am reminded of a well-known poem I fell in love with as a young girl. While the author remains anonymous, the spirit and message of the poem have become familiar friends of mine. I leave with you the words of one of my all-time favorite poems, “Don’t Quit”.

Poem, "Don't Quit"

I Lost God; He Didn’t Lose Me

People lose all sorts of things: keys, money, books, track of time, socks, memories, games (contests), their minds, etc. Funny thing (in an ironic sort of way)—I seemed to have lost God somewhere over the past year. I know it sounds like an extremely strange statement, but it’s my truth. I’ve never spoken with someone who claims to have lost God, but I’ve had countless conversations with people who have lost one or more of the aforementioned items. Nevertheless, over the course of a year I have lost God—lost my ability to talk to God, to feel His presence in my life, to believe in/have faith in God, to pray to/speak to God, to meditate on His inspired word, to commune with other believers, to trust His word(s)—in short, I’ve simply lost Him.

 

And yet here I am wondering: is it even possible to lose God? Seriously, if we take God’s inspired word, The Bible, as Truth, then perhaps I’m delusional in thinking that I’ve lost God. But bear with me as I attempt to rationalize my current situation. In The Message translation of the bible, Deuteronomy 31:6 states:

 

“Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them [doubts, circumstances, setbacks, shortcomings] a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.”

 

If God, my God (because at one point in time I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior), is striding ahead of me, is right there (here) with me, how can I have lost Him? But I’m being real here, being completely honest and transparent.

 

I have lost God.

 

If I accept Deuteronomy 31:6 as Truth, then God hasn’t left me, hasn’t lost me—I’m the one in this relationship who has lost Him. And yes, it is a relationship. Despite the fact that I cannot touch God like I touch/feel other human beings, cannot have a conversation with Him as I do other human beings, cannot see Him like I see other human beings (or can I?), that doesn’t necessarily negate His presence, nor his being real. Yet and still, therein lies my dilemma. I want to believe God’s word. I want to believe that the words of the “Good Book” are true, but much of what I have seen and/or experienced over the course of my existence on this planet has left me questioning the truth of His word.

 

Let’s get back to business. If God is all and in all, then God is everywhere. And if God is everywhere, how can it be that I have lost Him? Again, let’s look at what His word says. Colossians 1:16-17 in the King James Version (KJV) reads:

 

“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”

 

Again, let’s break this down. If God is the creator of all things (present in heaven and earth, visible and invisible), then He exists in all things and that means that God is more than a “presence” one feels in a church (house of worship) and there is more than one way to feel him, see him, commune with him, to know Him.

 

But I have lost God.

 

Seemingly out of nowhere, I broke down in tears this afternoon in the midst of a conversation I was having with a close friend (in her car of all places—I guess where shouldn’t matter, but it was just odd how it all happened). She was sharing her walk with me when the flood of tears escaped my eyes. We were reflecting on life, being raw, being honest about our feelings when I simply allowed my truth to come out. I said:

 

“I’ve lost my way; I’ve lost my peace and I don’t know how to get it back.”

 

My friend looked me in the eye and said something that touched my heart more than she may ever know. She said . . .

 

“We all have to find our own way to God.”

 

Such simple words, but words with such a great impact. She went on to say that she has found God in nature and in a fiction book. She told me about this book that she had once read. The book, The Shack, by William Paul Young, had forever changed her relationship with God, had changed her life. And it was then that something inside me “broke”. All my life I had been trying to find the magic formula to make situations and circumstances in my life bend to my will. I would look at a person and try to figure out why things had seemingly come together for them and pattern my attempts at life after theirs. Still yet, I would gaze upon another and try to emulate their formula and all to no avail. My friend was right; we all have to find our own way to God. We all have to find our own path to peace and perhaps that peace doesn’t come instantaneously, or after a confession to a priest, or after our first, second, or ninety-fifth prayer to God. Perhaps our path to peace, our path to God happens after a lengthy uphill trudge full of stops and tasks along the way.

 

So here’s my truth: I’ve lost God. But I’ve heard that it only takes one step to once again find him.

 

Maybe I’ll find him in the midst of meditation (another suggestion from my great friend), maybe I’ll find him in His word, maybe I’ll find him in nature, maybe I’ll find him in a work of fiction, maybe I’ll find him in the spirit of another human being. Right now it matters more that I find Him and not so much where it is that I find him. Today, I’ve made the decision to seek Him; won’t you do the same? Isaiah 55:6 (The Message) urges us to:

 

“Seek God while he’s here to be found, pray to him while he’s close at hand.”

 

So despite the fact that I’ve lost God, I am going to do everything possible to find him.

 

One last thing. Before my friend drove off today she said that we (she and I) were going to commit to verbalizing His word even when we don’t completely feel it with our whole heart. Though I seemed to have lost God, I’m going to try and find my way back to him through His word. And if that doesn’t lead me to him, I will try another route. Truth is, I’m determined to find my way back to him and I won’t give up until I’ve found the peace that is associated with knowing Him.

 

I don’t know how, and I don’t know when, but I’m trusting that:

 

“. . . the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your [my] hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (KJV).