Monday, April 25, 2011

Saturday, April 2, 2011

I Quit!

“I quit!” I told my husband. “I’m leaving our church. This no longer brings me life. It brings me death.” And my husband was the pastor!
Those words launched me into a journey of profound spirituality that I refused to continue living, pretending everything was “fine.”

It happened on January 2nd on year, and was actually much more than a New Year’s resolution (e.g. “I will go to the gym three times a week” or “I will take a class at a community college”). Something broke inside me when I finally said, “No more.”
It was a determination to quit those things that were damaging to my soul, freeing me up to choose ways of being that were authentic and rooted in love. Not only would I be changed, but my marriage, family and community also transformed in unimaginable ways.
That one decision has evolved over the years into eight “I Quit” resolutions, which I’m urging others to consider as a far more expansive and life-changing resolution for the 2011 New Year:

1. I will quit being afraid of what others think.
I will not say “yes” when I really want to say “no” because I’m afraid someone will be angry, sad or disappointed. I will speak up when I disagree or prefer something different, no longer ignoring my own values. Who I am “on stage” before others will be the same person I am “off stage” when I am by myself.

2. I will quit lying.
I will become brutally honest with myself, especially with my own thoughts and feelings. I will declare my truth to others, not fearing what they think. That truth can be as simple as “I don’t want to eat at that restaurant,” or as difficult as, “I was hurt by your comment.” Speaking the truth respectfully and clearly is one of the most significant ways I can respect myself and others.

3. I will quit dying to the wrong things.
I will not put things most important, like self-care, at the mercy of things least important, like always putting others before myself. I will actively pursue a day of rest and I will no longer set aside activities or relationships that cause my soul to feel fully alive (e.g. music, dance, art, the outdoors, travel).

4. I will quit denying sadness, anger and fear.
Many of us live inhuman lives because we believe inhuman rules like “Don’t be sad”, “It’s bad to be angry”, or “You’re weak if you’re afraid.” I will allow myself to feel all these feelings, treating them as “guests” sent to teach me something. I will neither put them in the driver’s seat and let them control me, nor will I ignore them by stuffing them in the trunk.

5. I will quit blaming.
As a human being made in God’s image, I recognize that no one is responsible for my life and happiness but me. I will take responsibility to choose my own life and help others do the same. I can’t change others, but I can change myself.

6. I will quit overfunctioning.
I will quit doing for others what they can and should do for themselves. I will stop perpetuating their immaturity or my false sense of indispensability, seeking courage and wisdom in doing so.

7. I will quit faulty thinking.
I will not assume I know what others are thinking without checking it out with them. I won’t jump to negative interpretations without having all the data. And I will not believe the falsehood that things will never change.

8. I will quit living someone else’s life.
I will embrace the unique life God has given me, paying attention to my very personal rhythms for waking, sleeping, playing and working. I will set appropriate boundaries around everything that breathes, letting go of other people’s agenda for my life. And I will follow what is important to me.

May you be courageous this new year to live divided no more, discovering the Spirit’s power that yearns to break into your life and birth that which is good, true and beautiful. Remember, if you don’t embrace your one, unrepeatable life, it won’t get lived.

Geri Scazzero is the author of the recently released I Quit: Stop Pretending Everything is Fine and Change Your Life (Zondervan, 2010). She lives in Queens, New York City.


Khing, the master carver, made a bell stand
Of precious wood. When it was finished,
All who saw it were astounded. They said it must be
The work of spirits.
The Prince of Lu said to the master carver:
"What is your secret?"

Khing replied: "I am only a workman:
I have no secret. There is only this:
When I began to think about the work you commanded
I guarded my spirit, did not expend it
On trifles, that were not to the point.
I fasted in order to set
My heart at rest.
After three days fasting,
I had forgotten gain and success.
After five days
I had forgotten praise or criticism.
After seven days
I had forgotten my body
With all its limbs.

"By this time all thought of your Highness
And of the court had faded away.
All that might distract me from the work
Had vanished.
I was collected in the single thought
Of the bell stand.

"Then I went to the forest
To see the trees in their own natural state.
When the right tree appeared before my eyes,
The bell stand also appeared in it, clearly, beyond doubt.
All I had to do was to put forth my hand
and begin.

"If I had not met this particular tree
There would have been
No bell stand at all.

"What happened?
My own collected thought
Encountered the hidden potential in the wood;
From this live encounter came the work
Which you ascribe to the spirits."

- Chuang Tzu
from The Way of Chuang Tzu by Thomas Merton