by Niki Turner
If there's one thing (oh, that there was ONLY one thing) I feel I've failed to learn, it's how to apply the truth in the chorus of Kenny Rogers' song "The Gambler" to day to day life.
"Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, know when to run."
I tend to be a bit stubborn. (At least, that's what other people tell me.) Stubborn can be a good trait (when you call it tenacity, or perseverance). Stubbornness (aka tenacity and perseverance) can also be destructive.
It's possible to "latch on" to something that's outwardly good - an opinion, an idea, a relationship, a job, or a vision - that has, over the course of time, become toxic. Milk, for example, is good for children. Milk forgotten in a sippy cup behind the bed for a week is still milk, but it's no longer beneficial for health.
Sometimes it's a moment by moment thing. When to get out of a conversation, when to leave a gathering, when to stop shopping (that can be challenging for those of us who are tenacious about looking for the next great deal). Or it can be figuring out when to finish an edit on your manuscript, when to stop adding brush strokes to a painting, when to realize the house is as clean as it's going to get, or when to admit that you're done with something.
To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill, And a time to heal;
A time to break down,And a time to build up;
A time to weep,And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather
A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain, And a time to lose;
A time to keep, And a time to throw away;
A time to tear, And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, And a time to speak;
A time to love, And a time to hate;
A time of war, And a time of peace.
(No matter how hard I try, I cannot read that passage without picturing Kevin Bacon in Footloose.)Eccl 3:1-8 NKJV
It's critical when talking about what to let go and when to hold fast by faith that we be led by the Spirit of God. Our flesh is an inaccurate gauge for when something is finished, when it's time to release something. Flesh tends to get frustrated early. The stubborn among us tend to cling to things that other folks would have released long ago.
It's only by the leading of the Holy Spirit that we can know we aren't "beating a dead horse" when it comes to the things we're applying our energy and effort to. Sometimes perseverance is required (Kathryn Stockett's debut novel "The Help" was rejected by publishers 60 times), but sometimes, we need to be smart enough to set something aside and move on.
Examine your schedule, your projects, your WIPs, your relationships, your plans ...
What needs to be "held" and what needs to "fold"?
From what should you walk away, and from what should you run?