When You Want to Quit

It’s not even 8:00 am and tear-soaked tissues gather at my toes. Alone, I try to pull it together, tuck the chaos behind my ears as I smooth my curls, and take a deep breath.

You are a mess.

A tear drops off of my nose, followed by another sliding from my lip. I ball another tissue and wonder if maybe I were smart or savvy or insightful, then I would be able to fix it all.

Kids would write with impeccable conventions.
Misunderstandings would be extinct.
And love would be enough to heal a childhood of heartache.

I lean forward, fists clenched, and I wonder if maybe it’s time I quit. Maybe there’s something else for me to do. Something where I fail less. I swipe the tears off my eyes and the tissue lands near my toe. My necklace swings out, grazing my knuckles.

Breath catches in my throat and Shine swings back and bumps my chest.I lean forward again, making the necklace suspend in the air. Shine it says.

I snort an ugly laugh, eyes locked on the word, Shine, and I wonder if maybe I’m a big failure after all.

Maybe the heart of who I am, the core of what I believe, is bogus.

I can live a whole life of Shine, celebrating the moments, and still, at the end of the day (or maybe even the beginning) turn out to be a failure.

I lean back and tip my head up, turning to look out the windows. I talk to Jesus. The heavens are grey.

I take a deep breath, push it out through my nose, and breathe in again, filling my body with all it needs to keep going — determination and courage and joy. Exhale.

Just like that, I feel it inside of me. The still small voice rising up and I know, knowknowknow, that even in the thick of the mess and the middle of the muddle and the grey closing in, I can still choose joy.

Wanting to quit because I’m tired of the flaws and the fighting for the same cause again and again and the loving more until I’m tattered is not a sign of failure. Balling up another tissue and swiping the tears and feeling inadequate does not mean I lose. I gather the tissues and stand tall.

It is this moment that I have a choice.
I can choose to celebrate or I can choose to get by — survive.
I will celebrate.

This is what it means to shine.

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  1. Oh, Ruth, I know so many of us have been where you were today. I've been there this week myself. What a difficult job we have, full of rewards, but difficult nonetheless. For today I will just wish you well and tell you what you already know – you are making a difference and you are not alone. Beautiful post.

  2. If I could, I'd reach out to give a hug, a very long one, because recently I heard that research shows that for a hug to do real good, it must be at least 20 seconds long! That's what I'm sending, a 20 second hug, the time it takes to write this comment. There, hope it feels good, and that you live those ending words: “I can choose to celebrate or I can choose to get by — survive. I will celebrate.”

  3. Love IS enough to heal a childhood of heartache. Just not quickly. Just not in a linear sort of way. But the healing is taking place deep inside, nonetheless. Know that.

    And know that as you love big, as you shine, as you celebrate through the beautiful mess, you are loved.

  4. It sounds like your word is playing a powerful role in your life this year. I always love how OLWs often turn out even more perfect than we could have ever imagined. Your posts have a way of sticking with me (like your enough post). This is another one that will pop back into my mind often. I am glad that you are choosing to celebrate and shine.

  5. OK, now is probably not the time to admit that I did not even write yesterday because I had such a hard day. Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. The pulls and tugs at your heart, your soul, and your passions are so evident in your words. While love may not heal a broken heart instantly and problems don't go away just because we wish them to do so, the only path towards a happy day-to-day life involves SHINING in spite of challenges and looking towards the heavens for inspiration. It seems like you are on the right path! PS You are not the first momma-teacher to be in tears at 8 AM!

  7. Tears and tissue balls, how would it be possible to be human without them. After the tears you shine brighter, or maybe because of the tears you shine brighter. You shine because you are strong enough to show your vulnerability. And it's amazing how you are able to put all of it into beautiful words that give strength to your readers.

  8. I want to reach through my computer and hug you. Then listen to what's wrong, mentally chastize the problem makers, and then remind you of all that's right. But look at you, You shed a few tears and tissue balls and find strength in those.

    Keep on shining, even on the darkest days….

  9. (ugh…my first comment didn't save. troubles with google+ sign in…my bad.)

    First of all, I'm joining in the group {squeeze}. I'm always amazed at the honesty in your writing and the comfort your words bring to all. I had goosebumps reading this, knowing full well God has a plan for you and knowing that He never said it would be easy. Yet, we need to continue to look to the heavens (as you did) and breathe in His strength and glory. I was in tears this week too (school, stress, pressures, sickness, failure) — but it was God's will to slow me down and celebrate even the little things and remind me what is important. Here's the message I'm learning: We are not alone here. We are here to shine together.

    I'm so glad that you have that SHINE necklace to remind you of what you do so well, in so many roles, in so many ways. 🙂 Not everyone will see your shine like you hope, but it is what God wants and expects from you, even during the darkest moments. Shine on, Ruth. Be the light. – Matthew 5:14 http://www.pinterest.com/pin/276901077061766621/

  10. Ruth, this is such a hopeful message. We all have those moments of darkness where it seems no light can shine, but you found it, even if it was an ugly snort. Which made me chuckle I might add…I am not the prettiest of criers. I am so glad you are still finding a way through the darkness to feel joy. Wrap yourself in it and I hope you will find the contentment you so need and desire at this time in your life.

  11. Thank you.

    I'll keep listening for my own small voice rising up with the certainty to get me through the rough patch. It's not happening tonight, but hopefully she'll come back soon.

  12. Wow, this is powerful. I'm right there with you but in another profession–as an author. But even as an author I'm a teacher, which scares me. I feel like you were in my head today. That I was you. Thank you for inspiring me to stand up and shine. Yes, we always have a choice, don't we? For that I am thankful! Hugs to you, my online friend.

  13. Ruth, I have pondered for two days how to comment on your post. Your words have echoed in my mind. Your choice at the end shows the true grit you have. You are a beacon of light that shines around the world inspiring mere mortals (like me) to tell their story and celebrate. I'm going to join Deb and mentally chastise the troublemakers. I hope you continue to shine on. 🙂

  14. Hugs, my friend. I am with you like those above. Your words have moved me deeply. Thank you for your honesty in fighting the hard fight and then choosing to shine on. Your strength comes from the One who knows you and you choose to celebrate. Thanksgiving comes prior to the miracle.

  15. I'm speechless. The first thought I had as I read this is, “This sounds like ME!” You put this eloquently. It broke my heart. I totally GOT where you were. Thank you for choosing to shine. Continue to choose well…and know you are not alone!

  16. I'm thinking there is something out there that will grab you and hug you with new strength and opportunity. The hard work and love you have strewn about with education and with your family will bear the fruit that will make it all worth it. The hard part is hanging in there. Yes, celebrate who you are and the lives you have reached. You've made me feel worthy–worthy in my life and writing. I celebrate you today!