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  • Writer's pictureAndi Kumer

When You Really, Really Want to Give Up.

Updated: Jun 7

Most people who meet me, believe me to be "cheerful," "pleasant," even "bubbly."

I think I can be all of those things. However, like many people, I also have a tendency toward sadness, anxiousness, even depressive thoughts. I don't think it is heroic or mysterious (many people are this way) that I think a lot, analyze and observe to a fault, and, dare I say, even philosophize, and fall into dark shifts of the mind. Most people who've experienced hard things begin to ask questions. The big ones. The "Whys?" and the "What fors?" Especially, "What was the meaning of that?" "What's the point?" If you think about it, if only good things happened to us, we (possibly) wouldn't really have much to question.

Many and most people have been through hard things, obviously on a spectrum. Again, this is not the exclusive, elusive club I used to think it was in my adolescence-- when we are all ego-centric and believe we have the deepest thoughts of all time and within all dimensions ever!

I used to think it was funny in my teens when my friends would say, "we've been through a lot together." Back then, I'd laugh inwardly and think, "Ha! We're fourteen! What are you talking about?!" A little older, you find out you and your friends actually had been through some pretty awful things. Some of which were entirely self imposed, some completely well...not. Not surprisingly, we come to find out the same bad things that happened to me, also happened to her--or we find out how seriously dangerous that situation was once our brains finally fully developed. We find out what that stranger or Auntie or Father did to a friend of ours. We realize so many have been desperately hurt.

(As a therapist, I have worked with thousands of hours of trauma--so many are hurting).

And as we get older the "things" get harder, therefore we may question life all the more. The brain maps for those difficulties get more complex. The trauma responses lead to more trauma responses--the self protection due to less trust--and often for good reason: life has hit you hard, and it just won't let up. We have more negative beliefs about the world, more fears, more irrational nervous system reactions than before.

Sometimes, the ball of all the worst and most miserable emotions grows so entangled and so big, you just seriously want to throw in the towel. Whatever that means for you. Generally, when "the towel" to be thrown meant my client is stating they want to die, I would verify whether they mean one of two things: "Do you mean you want the horrible, overwhelming feelings to die or do you mean you want to die?" Often, it is the former.

The "Give up" doesn't always mean a physical death is wanted, it means they are just entirely sick of it! All of it! Sick of the grief, sadness, the acedia. Cynism one day, deep feelings of sorrow the next-- and just for fun--a wildcard Wednesday of anger, rage and thorough frustration with the world. Those are hard days to inhabit one's self, and they are hard for those around us. Those days we can seem self pitying and self centered which only adds to the mess, right? "Great! Now I'm selfish--let's just add guilt to the mix!"

On these troubled days, when we are "just sick of it," we run the gamut on how to "cope" in all the wrong ways. Wouldn't you know it, yelling at my family didn't work. Snap. "Ok, so I'll go for a swim-- the lanes are full! Ugh! I see my Bible, maybe I'll--Nah--God doesn't even care! And no one else does either!" we tell ourselves. We decide it is "all" too hard.

Or maybe you are having a pleasant, just fine kind of day--and Wham! Someone or something activates those huge, negative feelings. What now? Giving up is sometimes the "go to" place our mind takes us.

So what do we do? Obviously, it goes without saying if I "want to die" for real-real and I have a weapon and a plan--I need to tell someone or call the police or take myself to the hospital! But what about those events when "giving up" means I just want these feelings to stop right now.

You guys, sorry to sound prosaic, but I tend to go to the floor. I bow a knee, Dude. I'm full of emotions, it's a great time to get some Kleenexes and join God on the carpet and say to Him, what I always say: "I surrender!"

Before I go on about that, let me explain one hiccup I always run into when I do this. This tugging here: " should be able to handle this. Be brave, call this person and tell them how you really feel about that offense they are creating in you. God wants YOU to be strong and take the lead on this. As an adult, you should be better and take care of it yourself. Something is wrong with you. You must be lazy, that's actually the issue...etc., etc., etc."

OOOOHHHWEEEEHHH!!! Stop with the shoulding and the shaming!

NO! I do not always have this. No, I do not always know how to manage this. And NO, I don't have the energy for this.

Friends, sometimes we are fighting so many battles--other than just the normal, every day being human stuff-- and we cannot "be brave," "be strong" and take on one more thing. When you are feeling unstable--GO TO THE ONE THAT IS IMMOVABLE.

Don't let others (including spiritual others) tell you, you can be empowered enough to handle this.

When I go to Jesus in the hard times, it's really not pretty. It's usually a snotty, tearful mess. I've got my notebook to write down what He's telling me, I've got my Bible, and I've got the Holy Spirit directing me.

Today is a day where I did this very thing. Like any of us, life comes at me in it's variety pack of unsweetened candy bars kinda way, and it can very much lead me to saying to myself, "I just want to give up!" Obviously, this can take my mind to some bad places. I thought, "I could go for a walk, --don't feel like it." "I could go to the gym, --just no." "I could call that person and give them a piece of my mind." No. None would do. At almost 42, and knowing how stewing in these heavy feelings feels if done for too long, I chose to get out of it quickly.

To the carpet! "God! I don't know what to do! I surrender!"

Of course, there was also the "Why, God?!" and the "How long?!" and "How much do you think I can take?!" All of this, soon caving into, "You know what, Lord? I think I'm going to give this one to You. I'm sitting this one out! They have free will, I am giving this up to You." Not only can He see everything for what it is, He is El Shaddai-- all resourced, all present.

Friends, I've also had my fair share of counseling. So, a day like today would have taken me out for a lot longer several years ago. Where we have maps for negative responses, we can grow our brain network for the positive. For me, this meant changing the way my nervous system responded by taking into account how my body was reacting, and how this led me to noticing my emotions and thoughts and working to change them. This took years of hard work and effort from my counselor and me. But God was interwoven into each of my sessions and I heartily invited Him into helping me heal.

I believe that just as the body works toward healing when it is hurt (a scrape, a tear or a bone break), God helps the mind also operate towards healing too. But we have to want it. I may know I have a number of mental or emotional set backs, and I may even have a diagnosis or two, but walking around holding the wounds tightly in our fists without a hope to release them someday will keep us in those self protective, sometimes even self-centric states of mind. A mind posture that can lead to and keep us in anger and cynism.

Healing is a process. Clients from my practice and in my own therapy, tended to take breaks from those people who've hurt us, as we processed about them. And as we heal, we may circle back with better boundaries.

You are worth the process of healing, and it is okay to lay down that big, brave self, and let God take over both in and out of the counseling office. I think God is always willing and ready to take over, He is NOT holding expectation of you to white knuckle your way through life. He is our Father-Creator who wants to protect us and comfort us.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

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