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Quit isn’t a bad word.

Quit Isn't a Bad Word

When we quit for the right reasons, we are changed. Something breaks inside of us when we finally say, ‘No more.’ The Holy Spirit births a new resolve within us. We rise above our fears and defensiveness. The hard soil of our heart becomes soft and ready to receive new growth and possibilities” (Gina Scazzero).

Quit Isn’t a Bad Word

Weeks ago I fell in love with Robert Frost’s thought, “The afternoon knows what the morning never even thought of.”

It seemed to perfectly describe the last year of my life.

On the morning of September 14, 2013, Candace and I woke up late. Very late, as a matter of fact, and so missed breakfast. Once again, Vienna was clothed in showers and clouds and a sharp chill in the air. We bundled up and headed for Innere Statd (Inner Vienna, District 1) for our much-anticipated Sacher Torte.

Quit Isn't a Bad Word

Candace was set to sketch the historic cafe.

I was set to watch her sketch.

The biggest question I faced that early afternoon was what to eat and drink. And then what to eat and drink, again. You see, a complete sketch session lasts about 3-4 hours, so that means a lot of patient waiting. Oh, I didn’t mind. There was plenty to keep me busy. Two stunning pots of Darjeeling Tea. One delicious sandwich. An even more delicious, and famous, Sacher Torte.

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The plans for the afternoon/evening were to walk to the Danube River.

“I can’t come to Vienna without seeing the Danube,” I said. “That would be terrible, right?”

“Of course, Mom,” Candace said. “We’ll do it.”

So, after stopping by the apartment to drop some things off, i.e. lighten our load, we headed out. The plan was to walk to The Danube Tower.

Eat dinner in the elegant cafe. See the amazing view from the top. Enjoy our last night to the fullest.

Unsure of the actual distance, we figured we could walk. Candace, my trusted guide, is an expert map reader. (She got that from her father, not me!)

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Somehow, though, she got a little turned around, adding quite a bit to our walking time. I didn’t mind because there is always so much to see. By now, dusk was upon us. We walked and walked and walked.

“How far do you think we have to go?” I asked.

“Well, according to the map, it is up here.”

We kept walking. I don’t know how far we actually walked, but my body began to signal that we had walked a long way.

I ached everywhere. Not one to “own” my fibromyalgia, I kept pushing forward. You can do this, Janell. Keep going.

Finally, a couple hours later (at least that is my body’s estimate, Candace can validate), we reached the Empire Bridge (Reichsbrücke) and…

The Danube River.

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The sights along our way.

Just as we approached the bridge, I turned my head to the right and saw it.

“Wow. Candace, look at that! What on earth is that?” I asked.

Candace looked at her map and smiles.

“Mom, that is the Cathedral of St. Francis.”

“No way!” I yelled. “That is quite possibly the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. That literally took my breath away.”

There before our eyes was not only an awe-inspiring historic cathedral, but one named after one of my favorite saints.

I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. Oh how I wanted to go inside. Attend a mass. Be closer.

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Yet, we kept going. After all, we had a goal: get to the Donauturm.

Halfway across the bridge, I gave out.

“Sweetie, I don’t think I can go another step,” I sighed.

“Mom, it’s ok.”

“No, it’s not ok. We said we would go to the Donauturm. We can’t quit,” I said.

For the next few minutes, my very wise daughter had a serious talk with her mom. I wish I had it on tape. Part of me kept thinking, “When did you grow up and get so wise?” The other part just marveled.

She shared about her own struggles on the Camino de Santiago.

“Mom, it’s not about getting anywhere. We’re here. Your goal was to see the Danube. And as a bonus, you saw the Cathedral of St. Francis. You didn’t even know about that. When I travel, I have a destination only to have a destination. But the journey is always more important.”

“Oh, I hate to quit,” I said. “I feel like I’m letting you down. Letting us down.”

“Mom, stop. Let’s enjoy this moment. Let’s go back to that lovely Italian restaurant that we passed, sit down, eat a nice dinner, and relax. We probably have another 4-5 miles to go, anyway. It’s still pretty far away from here.”

And that is exactly what we did. Dinner never tasted so good.

Diptic

I’m not sure where or when or why I began putting unrealistic expectations on myself. All I know is I actually hate that about myself. Limitations are not bad. Quitting is not bad. Sometimes it is exactly what we need to do. Sometimes our unrealistic goals actually become our worst enemies. Keep us from enjoying the view. Keep us from the moments right in front of our eyes. We become so hell-bent on accomplishing the goal that we actually miss out on life.

When, oh when, will I learn this valuable life lesson? I keep tripping over it, year after year.

Thankfully, this time, my very own daughter reminded me. I admire her so much. She gracefully placed her hand on my back, helped me turn around, and gave me a fresh perspective on life.

Maybe you are being faced by your own limitations today. Maybe, like me, you need to call it quits. Turn around. Set realistic goals. And, most importantly, be a little easier on yourself.

Tonight, when I set my dinner table, I will be lighting a beautiful white taper in honor of you and me. Women who continue to learn that life isn’t about the destination, it is all about the journey.

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May the wisdom of St. Francis be our prayer today:

“And St. Francis said: ‘My dear son, be patient, because the weaknesses of the body are given to us in this world by God for the salvation of the soul. So they are of great merit when they are borne patiently.”

10 Responses to “Quit isn’t a bad word.”

  1. Dawn andrews

    Loved reading this today. What I gained from it…even if my goal is getting one more load of laundry done, there is a chance that I missed one of my wee little people trying to show me her new gymnastics stunt or his ability to roar like a tiger. I can appreciate the reminder to just quit sometimes. Thanks, love you. I think of you often.

    Reply
    • janellrardon

      Oh Dawn, how absolutely relevant. There is such a tension between order and availability. We need to keep our homes in order but then
      we want to be available for our children at all times. Please share any way you find to keep this balanced. You are a remarkable woman!

      Reply
  2. carterquinley

    Mrs. Rardon, you have me in tears! I love so many things about this post. I loved sitting for those hours while Candace would sketch in Laos and Bangkok (although I would often go exploring when she would sketch and I would come back to find her as she was putting the finishing touches on her piece). I love the truth about life being the journey and not just the destination. Such a good reminder about how we set unrealistic goals for ourselves, when we need to learn to say “This is enough”. So much love! xox

    Reply
    • janellrardon

      Oh dear Carter,
      Thank you for your kind words. What an incredible experience it was….I could sit for hours and watch her. I, too, went adventuring at times in order to give her space. I continue to learn the importance of setting realistic goals…..AND making sure to always place my plans and goals at the foot of the Cross, because in the end, it is going to be HIS plans for my life that have any eternal value. Love to you!

      Reply
  3. Heather Howell

    Your words are your art, just as Candace speaks through sketches. It is amazing to see the talent that oozes from your whole family. What a blessing you are to so many! Thanks for the subtle reminder that it’s okay, even wonderful, to quit cleaning and be caught with a messy house while snuggled up with my kiddos reading books! Time to put my lists away. These days are disappearing fast. I’ll clean when they’re in college.

    Reply
    • janellrardon

      Yes, you will have an overabundance of time to clean then. I remember walking around the house thinking….”where did all the years go?” As I mentioned to Dawn, there is a tension between keeping order and being available. It’s such a fine line, isn’t it? I have no doubt in my mind that you are balancing it all well….but glad to know that my life experience can help you! That is what it is all about! Hugs!

      Reply
  4. sherrimartin

    I’ve been thinking on this topic. You know I just don’t ever consider “quitting”. But there are times when God’s sovereignty trumps our plans, and yes, our closely held sacred cows that say, “I won’t ever quit!” If God does indeed put us on a different path, embrace contentment in His plan. Don’t use the afternoon to nurse the morning’s regrets, either!

    Reply
    • janellrardon

      I know, that is why I loved opening this topic for discussion. I most love the thought, “Don’s use the afternoon to nurse the morning’s regrets….”
      Please write more about that. Would you consider a guest post on that? :)

      Reply
  5. Sherri Martin

    I left a comment on here yesterday that didn’t show up. Do comment opportunities expire? If so, I will try to leave them more timely! ;)

    Reply

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