By Erica Baldwin
38-year-old mom of one human person and one fur baby, wife, and chronic illness survivor. Living isn’t for the faint of heart!

My life as a quitterFamily_IMG_9836

I have a (not-so-surprising) confession: I have zero endurance. I don’t do the hard things. Basically…I’m a quitter. I may give off the illusion of hard work and perseverance, but in truth, I only do the things that are easy for me. There are many not-so-shining examples throughout my lifetime.

Example 1:

EricaCheer

My cheerleading career ended my piano career. Adulthood ended my cheerleading career.

After years of crying on the piano bench to fit in 30 minutes of practice daily, I quit piano lessons after six years because it was too hard for me – and much to the dismay of my mother, I chose cheerleading instead. Bad life choice, here, people; you won’t see me doing a toe touch or round-off any time soon.

Example 34:

I quit playing basketball after one practice – yes, you read that right, ONE practice. I distinctly remember I was in sixth grade, we did a few drills, and I wasn’t even chosen to play during the practice scrimmage! So I quit. (In hindsight, it was not such a bad life choice based on my lack of talent or enthusiasm for the game.)

Example 119:

In high school, I nearly quit a play because I didn’t get the part I wanted – I ran out of auditions crying because I wanted to be Cinderella, but the director kept having me read for a stepsister role. This life choice was made for me, but one that I later appreciated when the director told me she was trying to stretch my skills. It turns out she was right, and I had a blast playing a comedic role.erica actress

Example 247:

In my teen years, I enjoyed math and decided I wanted to be a math teacher. Then I took calculus during my senior year and it didn’t do any favors to my GPA. So I quit that imagined career path, and once I was in college, I fell in love with writing. Again, this ended with a positive outcome, but only because “diffy Qs” and “logarithms” were too difficult for me – yikes!

Example 379:

With my first job, I wanted to quit after a month because it wasn’t fun. I was the lonely teen worker at a diner/gas station/storage rental facility/caterer/car lot/hunting license/bait shop (small town, true story). It was hard work scrubbing the grill, cleaning out the greaser, mopping floors, and scrubbing dirty dishes on hot summer days. I came home every day smelling of onions, grease, and cigar smoke from some of the patrons. But my parents made me stick it out. And I grew to love that job, the customers, my bosses and co-workers, and the value of hard work. I continued to work there on college breaks, making me the longest-tenured employee with six years of service. Good life lessons, good life choice.

Example 1,063:

For most of my adult life, I’ve carried around a pesky extra 10-20 pounds on my 5’3” frame. About 10 years ago, I decided to dive in and try the faddish low-carb Adkins diet. I lasted…a whole 18 hours…before I began shoveling Honeycomb cereal into my mouth! Needless to say, those extra pounds are still hanging around. Maybe I should’ve kept up on my cheerleading skills.
There are numerous other examples, but you get the picture: When life hands me lemons, I run to the nearest lemonade stand. No squeezing for me – that’s too much work. Don’t get me wrong – my parents didn’t raise me that way; I simply developed my craft of avoiding difficulties early on in life. In a sense, I guess we all do this. We try to make our lives here on earth as comfortable and convenient as possible.

Close call with death – at 20 years old

When the unexpected happens, and it’s a hard thing, we are shocked! Unsteady. Unstable. Uncertain. Unable to deal.  When I was 20 years old, the unexpected happened. A stomach ache turned into six months in the hospital on IV feeding, multiple surgeries, and doctors trying to figure out what in the world was wrong with me. You see, my colon ruptured and I nearly died. This hard thing knocked me off my feet and out of my comfortable, convenient life. Hooked up to machines, drains, and life-saving nutrition, I couldn’t run the other way. I was forced to sit there, think, and (…shudder…) endure.

Learning to endure

It took another life-threatening event and 13 years to get a diagnosis (more on that another time), but I’ve learned some things. Mostly that I’m still terrible at the hard things. I still want to run screaming when I’m tested and tried. I’m still a quitter.

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Ready to take on my hospital rounds….and ask me how I REALLY felt about that walk around the sixth floor.

But I know Someone who’s not. You see, I know Jesus. And He knows my struggles. He knows every one of my tears. When I’m running to get to the end of my trial, He’s slowing me down, teaching me to endure.

During past, lengthy hospital stays, the muscles in my hands and legs atrophy…as does my spiritual will. I want to shut down and quit fighting, just sleep until it all goes away. But the hospital insists I do physical therapy – putty for my hands and walks around the hospital with my IV pole and drains. Like my determined nurses and loved ones, God too insists that I not give up, offering me spiritual therapy via His truth – a verse, a tearful prayer with a loved one, cards from dear friends, a song that speaks His truth, and His very real presence in the dark places. (And the ICU is a dark place, believe me.)
“Lord, I’m not a runner. I can’t endure. Please help me OUT of this trial,” I cry.
God replies:
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)
No stranger to pain, Jesus endured. Surely I can. God, give me strength.
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12)

This isn’t my end. This isn’t my utopia. There is a crown waiting, a place with no tears, no pain. Oh, Lord, help me persevere!

I don’t know why God asks me to do hard things, but He’s required that of me many times in my life. I also know that He’s been so real to me during those times – when I can only (literally) groan from the pain and fear, His Spirit and Son are interceding for ME. You see, Jesus does the hard things, and He does them well. In fact, Jesus does ALL things well – comfort, intercession, grace, hope, and a “perfect rest” to

I’m comforted by this hymn by Fanny Crosby (who was blind from infancy) that expresses beautifully how Jesus does all things well. So whatever test of endurance you’re facing (or may face one day), I hope you are encouraged by how the Savior leads you.

All the Way My Savior Leads Me

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My sweet family – who encourages me even when I want to quit!

All the way my Savior leads me;
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my Guide?
Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well;
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.

All the way my Savior leads me,
Cheers each winding path I tread;
Gives me grace for every trial,
Feeds me with the living Bread.
Though my weary steps may falter,
And my soul athirst may be,
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see;
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see.

All the way my Savior leads me
O the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest to me is promised
In my Father’s house above.
When my spirit, clothed immortal,
Wings its flight to realms of day
This my song through endless ages—
Jesus led me all the way;
This my song through endless ages—
Jesus led me all the way.

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