Why Quitting is Underrated
I lost count of how many jobs my daughter had in high school. She had a reputation in our family for quitting after her first shift. I was mildly concerned about her employment history but then I haven’t been one to stick with soul-sucking work for very long myself. I once took a job, when my kids were preschoolers, doing family photography at Sears in Regina, Saskatchewan. My first client was a family of 15 people. I quit at break time. I went for a coffee and never went back. I quit another job at lunch time. My daughter and I both used the same phrase as we quickly made our exits, “I can’t go back!” Like mother, like daughter - once our minds were made up, we were done. There is no cajoling either of us into working at a job that makes us miserable. Although I am good at quitting jobs (and moving houses), I have a tendency to stick it out in other areas of my life way too long. I wrote about cognitive dissonance last week. When you continue doing something even though you are deeply aware it isn't aligned with your values, you are creating and living with inner turmoil. For several years before my husband was fired from the church he had led for 15 years, we talked about leaving. We were being abused emotionally and spiritually by people in that congregation. We were slowly being torn down by all the criticisms and opinions of people who imagined themselves to be spokespersons for God. It became difficult for us to know who to trust - including ourselves. So we stayed, because you don't quit when the going gets tough. Looking back, we both wonder why we let ourselves be bullied and pushed around so long. It wasn't until months after we left how clearly we saw the situation. Somehow we had internalized the understanding that ‘faithful’ meant putting up with a lot of shit. Lesson learned. We both know now that we couldn’t go back into that kind of a role. Once you have seen you can’t unsee.
Getting to that breaking point of “I can’t go back” can take a long time. It can be the beginning of a spiritual awakening for you. Something inside is giving way to make room for a new beginning or a new depth is emerging. You may even feel afraid. Change is difficult. It’s hard to move on from the familiar even if the familiar is less than ideal. And when it means leaving a community or a relationship it can be even more difficult. Listen to yourself. You’ll know when it is time to stop doing something, being someone you aren’t, participating in a community that is eroding your spirit, or staying in a toxic relationship. Quitting is underestimated. It takes courage to admit something isn’t working. This week I celebrate the 9th anniversary of what I affectionately refer to as my spiritual emancipation. The day I was no longer a ‘pastor’s wife’ was a relief but it was just the beginning. It took another five years to heal and recognize the patriarchy was alive and well in my psyche. It was hard work. It took therapy and working with a spiritual director. Spiritually I am much healthier. I can’t go back. I've learned what it really means to be faithful. Faithful to myself and what I know in my soul to be truth. And the truth has set me free. When you finally say no to something you open yourself to your life. It may take some healing and grief work but you will get through it. What do you need to quit in your life? I work with women who are on a spiritual journey to help them align their lives with their truth. As Rob Bell says, 'Everything is spiritual." If you need a guide to walk with you, email me.