When I Am Ready To Give Up

Some days, I am so weary. I just don’t know if I want to continue on this journey. It seems as if it’s too hard. I ask if it’s worth it or if it’s just pointless.


I don’t always want to do the things I am doing. Sometimes, my work is exhausting. Sometimes, my family is exhausting. Sometimes, my sobriety is exhausting. Sometimes, writing is exhausting.

And I just don’t want to do it anymore.

There is so much commitment, so much endurance, so much…everything. There is never a day when I have no responsibilities. I always have to be doing something. And not in the over-committed, too busy hustle and bustle of life. Just living out the necessary responsibilities makes me worn out at times.

In this particular blogging exercise, I have committed to writing 40 posts over the course of the (almost) 7 week Lenten season. I have missed 3 of those days. A couple others have been reposts or long quotations/works by others. And some days, I have made it until late in the afternoon before realizing I have not fully completed what I want to share for the day.

And I find it exhausting. I have to requirement to do this. It is not fulfilling any obligation. It is just something I want to do. And I truly do hope people are reading and enjoying.

But even in this optional exercise that I willingly chose to do, I struggle with continuing.

Day 30 out of 40.




75% of the way complete and I am asking, “Is this good enough?”

In my journey of sobriety, 75% of the way through the 12 steps brings me to making amends. It is a difficult part of the process. But I know it is not the end of the process. There is still more work to do. But as I look at the list of people I have harmed; as I look at the list of things I have done, I am weary. As I approach each person to confess and repent, I feel a little more exhausted.

But I know there is more to come. So am I going to stop where I am at? Or will I continue.

In my journey through Lent, I am trying to sacrifice some things in order to rely on God more. It is a time to remember that life is temporary; things are temporary. I am working to prepare myself for the joy of the resurrection. Through it all, the focus is on how my faith can grow through this period of time. I am 75% of the way through this season. Do I need to continue?

I know that more good can come from my surrender. So will I stop here? Or keep going?

I wonder what Jesus was thinking and experiencing on day 30 of his 40 days in the wilderness after his baptism. How weary was he? How lonely was he? How hungry was he?

Did he experience feelings of doubt? Or a desire to give up and think that 30 days was long enough?

Jesus continued. For 40 days. He gave up fulfilling his own desires in order to draw closer to God. And he persevered.

I think about how difficult day 30 is (for example, I’m posting this on day 31 because of the busy-ness of day 30). I think about how hard step 9 is in the 12 step process. I think about how difficult it is to be a husband, father, friend, employee each day. And I draw a little bit of comfort from this:

You cannot experience the challenges of day 30 without first making it through day 1. You cannot complete a journey without passing through every stage of that journey. If you want to make it 100% of the way, you will have to complete 75% before doing so.

Some days, I am weary. Some days, I think continuing is too hard. Some days, I think the goal is unattainable. And then I remember: I am only in today. I have made it this far because I have lived one day at a time for quite a while. When I bring my focus into today, it provides a little bit of rest for my weary soul.

Are You Ready?

Have you ever had to make a difficult change in your life?

Maybe it was moving into a new house. As you get ready for the move, you need to prepare everything that you are going to pack up. You have to look at the new place and fix anything that is broken. There is planning necessary for this transition. At some point, you must decide if you are ready to enter into the change.

Or maybe it was entering into a new relationship. You have to consider what it will be like to share life with this person. You have to decide how open and trusting you will be. Your routine and schedule is going to change. You need to learn how to get along with this person with whom you start spending the majority of your time. There is planning necessary for this transition. At some point, you must decide if you are ready to enter into the change.

Or maybe it was the decision to have children. Once you know you want to have a child, you have to make sure you are ready. There is a lot of physical and mental health preparation necessary. You have to prepare a nursery and baby-proof the house. You have to get ready for ways life changes once a baby arrives. There is planning necessary for this transition. At some point, you must decide if you are ready to enter into the change.

So much preparation. So much planning. You must be entirely ready to face all these changes. But what does “entirely” mean? Does it mean that you are prepared for every potential scenario? Does it mean that you consider all challenges, risks, rewards, and successes that may come along? Does it mean you are prescient and can envision every transition life will throw at you?

Of course not. Being entirely ready does not mean that you will be able to control and predict every possible outcome. But it does mean that you are ready to face and endure every unpredictable scenario.

Being entirely ready means that you can face obstacles and persevere. It means as you are entering into each new phase of life you do so with an open mind, a humble spirit, and a willingness to learn.

So don’t think you need all the answers. In fact, you won’t even know all the questions. But you can be entirely ready to face the daily challenges that will come your way.

One Blank Screen At A Time

Whenever I open my word processing program*, I stare at a blank screen. Sometimes, I know exactly what words are going to end up there. Sometimes, I stare and stare and nothing comes.

But whether I know what I want to say or not, I always begin with a blank screen.


Some mornings, I wake up and know exactly what I want (or need) to do that day. Some days, my schedule is filled from the time I wake up until the time I go to bed. I just bounce from activity to activity accomplishing all the necessary tasks. (At least, on a good day. On bad days, I struggle to get to each activity and my success is limited.)

Some mornings, I wake up and wonder what the day will hold. I have no idea what I will be doing until I start doing it.

But whether I know what I need to do or not, I always begin with a new day.

One of the key phrases in 12 Step recovery groups is, “One day at a time.” It is said so much it is often heard as cliché. Yet there is much wisdom in this phrase. One of the challenges many people face in early sobriety is thinking about how difficult it will be to stay sober for a long time. But the goal of AA is not long-term sobriety.

The goal of AA is stay sober today.


When I first began my sobriety journey, my sponsor thought that living one day at a time was still too large of a time frame for me. He encouraged me to live one hour at a time. For me, one day was still an opportunity to think too much and get overwhelmed with all I needed to do.

It took some time, but I finally realized that every day I woke up was a new day, a clean slate. I could not do anything to change the actions of the previous day. I did not have any power to control what was going to happen in the future. All I could do was decide to stay sober that day.

This practice of sobriety has carried over into every other aspect of my life (with varying levels of success). When I am starting to get overwhelmed with everything life is throwing at me, I step back and think, “What can I do about this today? What can I do in the next hour?”

There are seasons at work when each day is hectic. There are so many deadlines and so many people and so much drama that I am exhausted by the time I get to the end of the day. And then I have to wake up and do it all over again the next day! If I am not careful, I get stressed out trying to figure out how to solve each dilemma and fix every problem and meet every deadline. I get so caught up in trying to figure out how to make it the next month that I forget to focus on what is going on that day.

At home, my wife is working on a Master’s degree while working three part-time jobs. Our three kids are all teenagers. Our oldest is about to begin his last year of high school. There have been days when I am trying to figure out how I am going to survive his senior year and get him moved in to the dorm that I have forgotten to remember that we don’t even know for sure which college he will be going to. I can so wrapped up in next year that I miss the joy of what is going on in this day.

I need to remember my blank screen. Each day is a beginning. Each day is a gift. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Let’s all plan to live one day at a time.

*Apparently, I should be ashamed that I still use Microsoft Word…

What makes it difficult for you to live one day at a time? What can you do to remember your blank screen?


Is just “being tired” good enough?

I mean, is being tired a good enough reason to quit doing that thing that you never should have started? Is it okay to simply say I want to stop harming myself in a variety of ways?

Is it a good enough reason to start doing the right thing? Is it okay to say I want to make healthy choices now?

Just because I’m tired?

12 Step groups have a saying: “I got sick and tired of being sick and tired.” But is being tired a legitimately good reason to make changes in one’s life?


Being tired means a lot of things.

It means I am worn out. It means I have been trying to do this on my own. It means I am ashamed of what I have done. It means I am afraid of consequences both current and ongoing. It means I am ready to give up. I am finally ready to admit I need some help.

Maintaining a life of addiction is exhausting. Continuing to live a life of hypocrisy takes a ton of energy. There is so much planning and plotting that needs to take place. There are so many stories that need to be developed. There is checking and re-checking to make sure the same lies are being told. There is constant paranoia of everything that is so thinly held together finally falling apart.

And then there is the guilt. Guilt at damaging one’s own physical and spiritual body. Guilt at damaging our family relationships, work relationships, friend relationships. Guilt at letting people down. Guilt at feeling so guilty that the only way we can get over it is to take more of the drug that led us to feel guilty in the first place.

All of it is so overwhelmingly exhausting.

But I still ask: is that enough to start making changes? Shouldn’t there be some sort of light bulb idea, a moment of clarity, an urge of a convicted conscience to do the right thing?

I don’t know. Maybe.

What I do know is this: I just wanted to stop.


Addicts in early recovery are tired people. Their bodies are going through withdrawal. Their routines have been altered. They are starting to pick up the pieces and mend that which was broken. Some people in early recovery have difficulty sleeping because their drug of choice was a depressant. Their bodies don’t know how to go to sleep without it. Some people in early recovery do nothing but sleep because they are so depressed and filled with fear they do not know what else to do.

Addicts in early recovery are not looking to be coddled. Or to be seen as a victim. Or to be pitied. But they would love to not be tired anymore.

And that is why being tired is a good enough reason to start making changes. Because on some days in early recovery, I didn’t want to not drink. I wanted to not be tired.

I was appreciative in those early days of recovery when people simply said, “Good to see you,” and meant it. Because I hated answering “How are you?” But I was grateful for those people who were genuinely glad to see me. I was grateful for the numerous people who babysat my children so that I could go to a meeting. Or spend time alone with my spouse.

I was grateful for those people who supported and encouraged me because I was too tired to do anything on my own anymore.


For those of you who are not addicts but are in relationship with people who are, please remember this: you do not need to fix them. Indeed, you cannot. Please also remember that addicts are not always bad people. They are often good people mired in a struggle that they want badly to overcome.

But here is what you can do: help them rest. Sit with them. Work with them. Worship with them. Go to movies with them. Eat meals with them. Babysit for them. Find even more creative ways you can help them rest.

Because sometimes, they are just really tired.

Lessons Learned From The Bottom Of The Bottle

Early in my recovery, I kept hearing the phrase “grateful recovering alcoholic.” I hated it. What was there to be grateful for? I had lost my job, my young children were confused as to why everything was so different, and my wife didn’t trust me. We were in danger of losing our house and I took a part-time job working overnights. Our church home changed. People who had been hurt by me were still figuring out how to interact with me. I was an embarrassment to myself and to my family.

And you want me to say I’m grateful?

It took me a while to learn, but yes. I was growing in gratitude. It took me a while to realize it, but I could indeed be grateful for everything that happened. As many people in 12 step groups put it, “Everything that has happened to you has brought you to this point in your life.”

And there was some good in my life. And there has been even more. So I learned to say that I was a grateful recovering alcoholic.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I wish I could take away the pain I inflicted on other people. I wish the hurt that I caused had not happened. But, I learned a lot from my addiction and continue to learn more in my recovery.

First, I learned that I can do anything I set my mind to. If anyone ever thinks that an addict is lazy or lacks determination or has no drive, that just reveals that they don’t really, truly know any addicts. Do you know how hard I had to work to keep my addiction a secret? Do you know how difficult it was to hide my bottles and credit card bills? Do you know how difficult it was to inventory and schedule restock trips so that I never ran out?

I do not say any of that to be flippant. I say that because when I was drinking, I was determined to make sure I could keep drinking. And I would do anything I could to continue. And if I could forth that much effort on something so destructive, just imagine how much I could accomplish if I would apply all of that on things that were constructive.

Second, I learned that when it comes to addiction, I am really no different from anyone else. I love the anonymity of 12 step groups. But do know why anonymity exists? It is not primarily to protect the identity of people who attend. The main purpose of anonymity is to say, “We are all here for sobriety. It does not matter who we are or where we come from. We want to get well. Titles, fame, money, status, all of that is not important here.”

It does not matter that I was a middle class, white, preacher’s kid. It did not matter that I was college educated. It did not matter that I still lived in a house with my wife and kids. I was a drunk. And I needed help.

Third, no matter how far you sink, God is still there. And this is a very annoying truth. God’s back is never turned. Even when you want it to be. Even when you are ready to give up on yourself. Even when you think you are unworthy of any love or grace. God says, “Sorry. I am not ready to give up on you.”

There is so much more. There are days that I wish I did not have to go through the bottle to come to these realizations, but most days I realize this: I am grateful for the lessons I have learned; I am grateful for the ways I have been changed; I am grateful for what I have in my life.

And that gratitude only came when the bottle was finally empty.