I give up

 “Justice that love gives is a surrender…” –Mahatma Ghandhi

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; but I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”*  -Jesus


In the first few weeks of my new life a young woman asked me to mentor her through a similar struggle as I’d experienced, saying she “wanted what I had”.  She told me the courage she saw in me motivated her.  She said my commitment to doing what it takes to have a changed life inspired her and the steps I was taking to have an authentic experience with my Higher Power made her want to know more about Who He was. I felt insecure about helping her since it was all so new to me but upon the advice of my own spiritual mentor, I decided to give it a try and gingerly accepted her invitation.

Revised and reprinted from August 2012

I shared that if she wanted what I had, she would need to do what I did.  For weeks and often for hours on end I met with her one-on-one,  patiently listening to her pain and offering the same tools I’d been given.  I took her to meetings, dried her eyes, prayed with her, slowly taught her about surrender, and just generally poured into her life.

After a short while, she turned her back on all of it. Further, she gave the middle finger to the investment I was making in her and all the progress she’d made and never looked back.  I was floored.  What had I done wrong?  Had my enthusiasm for her to have a better life had the opposite effect on her?  What in the heck happened??

When I shared my dismay with my mentor, she said something I didn’t expect.  She said it had nothing to do with me, but more so that people don’t want it (change for the better). Although they might say they do, the reality is most people don’t want to do what it takes to get it.  What?  How could that be?  How could anyone NOT want to sleep soundly knowing they’d been truthful in everything?  How could anyone NOT want the peace that begins to flow into relationships as one by one we make things right with those we have hurt?  How could anyone NOT want to stop looking into life’s rear view mirror as each new mile traveled now is honest?  How could anyone NOT want the freedom that comes with being naked before God and feel no shame?  How could anyone NOT want to stop arm wrestling with what they knew to be good and right and true?  I had drunk the KoolAid, saw how amazingly improved my life could be, and just assumed everyone wanted it too.

Over time I began to understand what she meant as I watched many seemingly satisfied with “close enough”.  I watched the need to be right destroy relationships on all levels. I watched drinking get out of control in the life of influencers, inflated egos hide behind the guise of ministry, churches split over power struggles, single Christians get impatient as they’d live out romance as if they didn’t know how treasured they were. I watched anger go unchecked, and the perceived “right to happiness” blow marriages apart.  I knew how that went…  I had done a lot of the same thing; professing faith in God but then making choices that flew in the face of “righteousness” if I thought it’d suit me. It’s one thing to say “I believe”, but to really live it out?  Ouch.

So… what is it with us?  Why aren’t we willing to do what it takes to experience every ounce of richness that’s available to us on every level?  Why do we allow low-living to steal from us what God has to offer?

I think it’s because it’s hard. We don’t think so at first, but honest self-review and total surrender to God takes courage. It often takes a lot to swallow our pride and recognize we are not the center of the galaxy.  It’s hard to listen to raw counsel and then truly apply it to our life in ways that show others we’re different. It takes courage to shut up, share the credit, be tolerant with others, tell the truth, stop whining, return the money, admit we’re wrong, serve with no recognition, say we’re sorry, and in general, be willing to really make things right.  It costs us a lot and sometimes, though we’d hate to admit it even to ourselves, we just don’t want to.

Here’s the thing. I believe Jesus went through all the drama of coming to this earth as He did was because He loves us so much, He wants us to have it all. Think about it: He lived as a man, was criticized and tortured and ultimately killed by religious leaders who were ticked that He’d pulled focus from their rules. He then rose up from the dead (He was also still God) and a month or so later returned to heaven where He shared that He’s preparing our eternal home for our arrival.  The point was that He went through all that in order to give us a shot at a life that is marked by great plenty, no matter how much or how little we have.

So what stops us from jumping in the deep end… from biting into the juiciest part of the apple… from living and being all God made us to be?   What would it take for us to do the right thing for the right reason, and trust God with the outcome?


To read more of the story, visit Sylvia’s blog I Drank The KoolAid.

* John 10:10 NASB

52 thoughts on “I give up”

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  31. Glad to see you are still pouring out the pearls. 🙂 God is using you and His words of wisdom and truth. Thank you for your faithfulness. I loved the reminder, too, that those that reject God (and our attempts to share His truth) are slaves to sin and are simply following their sinful nature. We need to keep loving them and praying for them. They are lost. Like you said, we are not perfect either and need to remain dependent on God. The truth that was sown is not in vain and Lord willing, one day, He will get a hold of their hearts… As for us, we are all a work in progress in a very broken world. I’m thankful to belong to a strong and mighty God! It’s a privilege to serve Him.
    Praying for you!

  32. Thank you for writing about this. It all makes sense…and yet doesn’t sometimes. 🙂 I appreciate your sharing your thoughts with us.

  33. We humans want easy/quick relief from our pain – just look at all of the big bottles of pain relievers on the shelves at Costco, and the big money that pharmaceuticals pour into developing better, stronger pain meds. We shy away from work and exercise (obesity statistics support this). And most of all, we love avoidance of our own faults, preferring to blame others when we can. As you know, you must be honest with yourself about yourself in order to be honest about yourself with God. If you are not honest with God, how can you ever experience God’s forgiveness and Grace? You can’t. Jesus’ yoke is easy and his burden is light. It is our struggle with ourselves that makes the journey into God’s loving arms difficult. My guess is that the woman wanted what she saw in you, but when she learned what was involved in getting that, the fear of honestly facing herself was overwhelming. Ironic – when we are honest with ourselves and about ourselves with God, it is the most freeing experience. We wonder what held us back in the first place. But when stuck inside ourselves prior to that, it is the most frightening thing imaginable. I believe this is what Jesus meant when he said “whoever loses their life for my sake will gain it”.

  34. “What would it take for us to do the right thing for the right reason, and trust God with the outcome?”

    … from my sinful perspective and understanding of His word,(IMHO)..it takes sinful man to accept God on his terms..not ours. Therein lies the rub. Before I wanted His “obvious wisdom”, I activly rejected and ridiculed His way. I rejected his terms because my pride, ignorance and selfish desires were more important; after all, I didn’t need Him. What finally drew me to “trust God with my outcome” was the revelation that I didn’t have to follow laws I could never keep! I was a slave to my sinful nature and I was tired of justifying what I knew to be wrong and wanted peace. The beauty of God is He offes all His creation FREE CHOICE. No thumb screws, no mark downs, no guilt trips, no BS. I finaly met Him..on his terms, (grace, mercy and omnipotence). I finaly understood that religion was a ruse and salvation was a relationship. After meeting Him, His spirit lead (and continually leads me) on my journy to knowing Him and desiring to follow him. Thanks for having the courage to bring light to His name. Sorry I Bogarted your blog. Forgivenss please :). Love YOU!

  35. Syl-what a powerful piece of writing. SO honest, insightful and REAL. Thank you for all of those you will help because you put this out there. (I shared it on my FB feed this morning.) I NEEDED to read this! Every day, every moment, I have to work at surrendering my will and wanting what He has for me instead of what I instantly want to have for myself. Thank you for this treasure of encouragement. You are such a gifted writer. Keep it up! Keep ‘um coming. Love you! xo

  36. We are not perfect, no, not one. Just remember how long you turned your back on what you KNEW was the right choice. And, if you are honest, I’ll bet you still backslide from time to time. Be careful about judging others for their lack of ‘obvious wisdom’. We are human and will make many mistakes – over and over again. Keep your eyes focused on Him and keep praying for us all.

    1. I’m sorry if I sounded judgmental- not my intent. I’m “one of those”, most certainly. I just know Jesus paid it all for us to have this thing He called “abundant living” and we miss out on it when we don’t surrender our will and our lives over to Him. For sure, all of us are moving along the path at different rates of speeds, and navigating different sized bumps and no one can push us harder than we want to be pushed. It is truly a case of one day at a time and sometimes (like in the case of flawed me), one minute at a time. Thanks for your comment.

    2. Sylvia wasn’t judging, she was challenging us to be all God made us to be.I saw her in concert a few years ago and then followed her to another event a year later. She was so unforgettable to me, the reason being is how nonjudged I felt by her. Her challenge makes mefeel included in “the struggle” we all go through. Both times I’ve heard her speak and every time I read anything she writes I am left with the desire to be better, to serve more, to stretch more, and to understand God more.

  37. This is the second most powerful message I have listened to/heard today. So powerful yet so very simple. I want to influence my relationships in a way that honors and gorifiess God. If I can’t do that I am not sure I want the relationship. I would rather pour out myself in a person that brings honor to Him than have one with no eternal/everlasting value. Thanks so much Sylvia and Michelle.

  38. What I love the most about your brand of Christianity is that you are a realist.I never feel preached at by you and instead feel like you a mouthpiece for God. At least to me. You point me to him when I do’nt feel like looking in that direction and this blog is another example of that to me. Thank you. Now where is that book?

    1. Such an encouraging reply, Gerry- thank you so much. Please (and I’m so sorry if I should know this)– remind me where we have met?

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