Sunday, March 20, 2016


I don’t consider myself a quitter. 

In fact, if anything, I think I hold onto things way longer than I should. Like a toddler with a hamster, my intentions always start out well, but by the time I finally let go, the damage is already done. 

Yet I have found myself this last year or so in a unique position. 

I had to quit some things. 

After returning home from Korea with our son, Wesley, we were advised to cut back on our busy schedules, and spend ample amounts of time at home for the attachment process to take place. This meant temporarily quitting some commitments, and concentrating on our family. This is going to sound terrible, but it was not an easy transition. It’s not that we were neglecting our kids, it was more like we had adapted them to our hectic lifestyle. We were modern day nomads. Only instead of camels and deserts, it was SUVs, Target, church, school, and everything else. When you are always use to running, it takes a while for your feet to stop moving and actually sit still. We went from having something almost every day of the week to… nothing. And I really mean nothing.

Suddenly we were home almost every night of the week. We had time to eat together at the table, play games, and get stuff done around the house. It was also during this phase I found the time to write. I began putting my thoughts and stories on a blog. It was strange at first, but the more we were home, the more we realized we had been so busy being busy that there were some things right under our noses that needed tending. 

It was during this long stretch of nothing, an old friend of mine paid me an unwanted visit. His name is guilt, and we have had a complicated relationship ever since I was a child.

Yep, guilt crept into my soul and reminded me of all the important things I was no longer doing. He stirred up memories of all the stuff I had accomplished when I was much busier and pursuing much more “noble” things. But I just wasn’t buying it this time. Usually guilt could stop me from just about anything, but my newfound life with margins was something I was not willing to hand over. I liked the pace we found. I liked being able to read with my children before bed each night, instead of rushing in doing homework, and throwing on pajamas while brushing teeth because it was already past bedtime. I liked being able to go on dates with my wife each week. I liked having time to read and write down my thoughts. Life just felt healthier outside of the raging current of being busy.

One of my favorite authors (and people), Bob Goff, quits something every Thursday. That sounds crazy, right? But Bob deliberately quits something in his life once a week to make sure he always has margin. Without margin in our lives, it is hard to have time for all the things we say we value. Without margin it is difficult to be balanced, and nearly impossible to grow. Bob put it this way, “We can’t be new creations if everything stays the same. It’s Thursday. Quit something.”

It may be something big like a job or an unhealthy relationship.

Or it might be something smaller, like social media or binge watching Netflix for days on end.

It doesn’t matter what it is. 

Just quit. 

Quit it and see what happens. 

Give your life margin. You will be amazed at how much time is actually in the day, when you put down your phone, stop thinking about the hundreds of things that have to be done tomorrow, and give your time to the precious few things right in front of you today.

That reminds me of the time I ran into a truck driver in the bathroom at work about ten years ago. It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but we had a short conversation that I have never forgotten.

We were both washing our hands at the sink when he asked why I was still at work. (It was later in the evening.)

“Well,” I answered, “I can always use the extra money.”

He was quiet for a moment.

“You married?” he asked.

I nodded my head.

“Any kids?” 

“Yes, I have a two-year-old daughter.”

“Forget the money. You need to clock out and go home,” he said as he dried his hands.

I kind of laughed.

“I’m not kidding,” he spoke with a stern look on his face, “You’ll work the rest of your life, but your little girl won’t be two forever.”

The words hit me like a sucker punch in the gut.

The man threw his paper towel in the garbage can, and began to walk out of the restroom.

“My deepest regret is that I was so busy working, trying to give my kids all the things that I never had, that I sacrificed my time with them. Now their grown, and don’t have much to do with me… and guess what? I’m still working.”

I stood there drying my hands in silence.

“I’m serious. Go clock out. You won’t regret it.”

He turned and walked out the door.

Moments later, I clocked out and went home.

If you are like me, quitting isn’t easy, and it carries with it all kinds of complications. By no means am I saying that we should all quit everything, but I do believe we could all benefit from quitting something. Do not let guilt bully you into staying in place you know you need to leave. Do not let pride keep you from dropping that prestigious position that eats up a massive chunk of your week. No paycheck is worth time lost with those we love, and no commitment is worth sacrificing our family and friends on the altar of achievement. 

It’s been over a year since we had to call it quits on some things and stay at home. And only recently have we started picking up new commitments. But we haven’t done so without a lot of discernment. 

It’s good to be involved, and there’s nothing wrong with giving your time to other things, just as long as your life continues to have margin for the truly important things. And if you find yourself like me, overworked, strung out, and stressed… well, I just tell you what I was told…

Go clock out. You won’t regret it.

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