When things are beyond our control, we tend to “give up” in one of two ways. The first way, which does little good, is to appear to give up by saying, “I’m done” – and throwing up our hands in disgust. The second way, which I recommend, is to truly give up.
Let me explain.
In 2015, I tried the first way.
I immersed myself in the news, trying to get my mind around the emerging crises of city riots, global terrorism, leadership vacuums, and the uneasy feeling that we may be headed toward another world war.
I couldn’t discuss these issues on social media, because the response there is always character assassination from angry people with pat answers which they (wrongly) believe will solve everything. So I internalized my concerns and frustrations. But that choice led to worry and despair. Many nights I couldn’t sleep because my mind raced with headlines, talking heads, and complete nonsense I had heard during the day.
Finally, I defiantly told the world (well, at least, my little world): “I’m done.” Done with the chaos that appeared to multiply with each passing day. Done with not being told the truth, or being told that the truth doesn’t matter. Done with the idiocy of social media. And definitely done with elections –all of the posturing, defending, promising, accusing, and denying.
I threw up my hands, gave the world the finger, and plunged my head into the sand. I chose ignorance over awareness. I pretended that since I couldn’t see or hear all the madness, it had disappeared.
On the surface, this approach had some merit: it gave me a moment of peace.
Unfortunately, though, the harder we try to ignore something, the more we think about it. Announcing “I’m done!” can never change the soul. Inside, I was still as uptight and stressed as ever.
So my moment of peace was an illusion, because it never healed my inner turmoil. It didn’t eliminate my frustration and anxiety, or their cause; it only drove them underground. My mouth said, “I’m done” – but my heart continued to pump vinegar. The fire – the fight – was still there. I was just denying the problem, yelling, “LA-LA-LA-LA-LA!” with my ears covered – and then washing my hands of the whole situation.
But in doing so, like Pontius Pilate, I missed the Truth himself – standing right in front of me.
I realized that, despite every attempt to withdraw and hide, I was still overwhelmed by the vitriol, the violence, the threat of war, the lack of direction, the uncertainty in the world. No matter what I did, I could not escape the insanity all around me.
At about that time, 2015 ended and 2016 began.
So I decided that in the new year, I would work on trying the second approach: truly giving up.
I would quit fighting. Raise the white flag. Tap out. Accept my total helplessness to affect world events. Understand that the issues before us have no simple solutions, no easy answers.
Truly giving up doesn’t mean washing my hands of the whole mess, but rather admitting it’s out of my hands. Embracing my inability to fix things. Acknowledging that there may be no earthly solutions at all.
Since 2008, when “hope” was used as a campaign slogan, the word has lost its power. Just as in every other election, we placed hope in a finite man who made many promises, but things didn’t get better. In fact, one could argue that they’ve gotten worse. And now we have a new batch of candidates stepping up to the plate, again asking us to place our hope in them.
But by truly giving up, I am choosing to place my hope in God, who is far bigger than any candidate or cause.
When I do that, my peace returns. When I focus on Jesus, the Prince of Peace, I find peace that can’t be quashed by parliamentary procedures, executive orders, or judicial override. Peace that can’t be won or lost in an election. Peace that can’t be stomped out by terrorism.
Then I don’t have to work so hard to ignore all of the unraveling going on around me. I don’t have to fret, stress, or worry over it. Instead, I can give it up to a Creator who thoroughly understands every problem – and holds every solution.
And he is GOOD.
So that is why I choose to give up on 2016.
In other words: surrender.
Take it, Savior. It’s all yours.