Why “don’t give up on yourself” is not such a very encouraging thought to me.

I had it all planned out.  Really.

Olympic ice skating was in my future.

Not to be boastful or anything, but I was planning on being the youngest ice skater ever.  To compete.  And to earn perfect 10’s.  And to have all stuffed animals thrown out on the rink, no roses.  Because I would tell all my fans before I won that I wanted stuffed animals for gifts.  With tails.  They had to have tails.

I would be exactly 14 years 0 days–the youngest age anyone could compete–when I ice skated with probably a dozen triple jumps and maybe a few quadruple ones thrown in for good measure.  Not that the summer Olympics ever fell on my birthday.  But they would the year I turned 14.  I hoped.

My plan?  Impeccable.  I would practice skating around the house on my socks until somebody built an ice skating rink in our region.

And then came the fateful day I turned 14-and-one-day-old.  And I realized I was not going to be the 14-and-zero-day-old ice skater I had always planned.

Pooh.

Back to the drawing board.

I had it all planned out.  Again.

I was going to make baskets of exquisitefully intricate origami animals for seniors in nursing homes.  I would go by every week with a basket of gorgeously folded paper, probably with enough to share among two or three nursing homes.  I had even bought an origami kit, with enough paper to make my first 60 critters or so.  Ah, it would be start anyway.  Enough to hold me over for the first few days.

I gave up on Paper Origami Frog #1.

I could not fold Paper Origami Frog #1.  I could not make Paper Origami Frog #1 look ANYTHING like the picture even if I tried to use scissors and paper wads.

Goodbye, Paper Origami Octopus #68.  Goodbye, Paper Origami Peacock #707.  Goodbye Paper Origami Sea Horse #2,090,809.

Back to the drawing board.

I had it all planned out this time.  Really.

I was going to make a trillion or so dollars.  Waitressing.  I was clearly loved by most customers, especially the man who ordered the salad every week and tipped 35 cents.  He hadn’t tipped anything before I had come to work there.  It was a great start.

It lasted a summer.

What with being cussed out by another waitress, competing for customers, and having the boss yell at me for not replenishing the all-you-can-eat salad buffet and not saying even one little word to the waiter who worked with me . . well, you get the idea.  I quit-oed.  And got myself enrolled in college.  So late, in fact, that I had to take classes at crazy hours.  But it was a zillion times better than working at that pizza parlor.

Back to the drawing board.

No, but this time I had it really planned out.  Really.  I mean, this was a total for sure thing.

I would invest in stock.

Those of you who know me and have already started hysterically laughing, stop it.  It’s rude.

Fortunately–very fortunately–extremely, very fortunately–I never got past the reading directions part.

You know, I could spend my life never giving up on myself . . but it’d be at the expense of ever admitting the nature I know I have inside me.  The truth is, I am worth giving up on.  On my own, I don’t have it together.  No matter how many times I try, I’m never going to get to be perfect or good at anything.

“No one is good except God alone.” (Jesus, quoted in Mark 10:18b, ESV)

I am so okay with giving up on myself.  I know I don’t have it in me to do anything right.  But that doesn’t mean I want to throw in the towel.

Instead, I want God to give me a little of His strength, and I can do anything then.  Not anything I want to do, but anything He wants me to do.  It don’t look like it’s going to be making billions of dollars waitressing or winning medals by landing flying spins.  It’s way better than that.  It’s reaching people for Christ, and getting closer to the heartbeat of God.

“What is impossible for people is possible with God.” (Luke 18:27b, NLT)

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