There’s a line in the first X-Files movie where Mulder tries to convince an exhausted, dejected Scully to help him take down the evil government conspiracy to infect all humans with alien DNA. He appeals to her sense of justice and reminds her: “If you quit now, they win.”
I have a confession to make: One of the things I’ve been trying to improve about myself lately is a surprising lack of perseverance. It’s surprising to me because I consider myself zealously committed to whatever endeavor I’m involved in. I’m one of those people who will see things through the end, no matter the cost. I’ll go down with the ship and throw everything out in reckless abandon in pursuit of a goal. (That’s my martyr syndrome, too, but that’s for another post.)
But one of the toughest things I’ve realized about myself these past few weeks is the relative ease with which I choose to avoid a problem instead of facing it head on. The result: It’s scarily easy for me to give up on people, places, and things. Maybe it’s the pacifist in me, but as my boss reminded me today, I’m not comfortable with being uncomfortable, and so I often choose the path of least resistance. And if that means picking up and going somewhere else, then by golly, that’s what I do.
And it’s not just with my work life that I try to find the path of least resistance. Admittedly, my spiritual life has been like a roller coaster lately because I’ve chosen in some ways to disengage in my spiritual walk. (Of course, God always has a knack for smacking me in the head and reining me back in.)
But we all know that the best way to grow is to quit running and actually experience some of those tough times. I’m convinced that we all need at some point to feel disturbed — as I prayed around this time last year. In fact, virtually all student development theories involve some cognitive dissonance that propels an individual through the various stages of development.
And so today I got hit by yet another spiritual 2×4. I had a very good heart-to-heart with my boss, and we problem-solved a little bit to help me understand my issue and develop ways to address it. So I’m still learning. It’s not easy to admit to yourself that you’re not as persevering as you think you are, but I’m grateful to have the kind of people in my life who care for me enough to remind me every once in a while that I’m still a work in progress. That’s a good thing.
After all, learning takes a lifetime. And if I quit now, they win.