Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
April 22, 2020
Why I’m not giving up:
Today, I received word that my high school is shutting down for the rest of the year.
Two days ago, I was told soccer is over, and that my conditioning, extra training, and home workouts were all for nothing.
Frankly, after hearing the news, I forced a smile, rushed to my bedroom, and collapsed on my bed and cried. I guess I saw it coming—but I still clung on to the hope that maybe we would return, for just a week, a day…a day would suffice.
In one moment, my hopes were dashed. The things I had been looking forward to had been ripped from my grasp, and I just had to stand by and watch.
And honestly, the fact that school was cancelled has put a huge damper on my motivation to stay focused on academics—anyone else?
Before quarantine, I was excited to learn. But now, I feel like I’m teaching myself everything worth learning, and getting confused in the process. Not to mention the fact that most of what I’m learning isn’t even going to help me with writing novels and owning a business.
Before quarantine, I was motivated to make my teachers proud with good, honest work. But now, they can’t really see my efforts, and it doesn’t feel as important anymore. They don’t acknowledge my hard work as much because it’s difficult to—it’s not their fault.
Before quarantine, I powered through the hard work just because I knew the next day I would turn it in and see the people I love. Now I can’t even see those people anymore.
Before quarantine, I wanted to maintain good grades, and keep straight A’s. But now, I still have all A’s, and my grades are climbing because of the ridiculously easy busywork I’ve been assigned. Now, getting an A is easy and it feels less valuable than it was before. I get points for just showing up. There’s no skill or effort in that.
My work feels pointless. I’m not even going to college, so keeping my grades up is another false motive. And for many other schools, grades can’t drop below what they were before quarantine, so if you had good grades previously, there’s no point to keep going. It feels like giving up is the most logical thing to do at this point.
But I’m not giving up.
I’m not going to stop doing the relentless homework. I’m not going to avoid the busywork. I’m not going to quit attending zoom classes. It’s illogical, I know. But I’m not going to give up.
God directed me to Philippians 1 tonight. I was feeling hopeless and I didn’t know what to do. It felt like there was no point to my hard work, and no reason to be proud of it anymore.
But here is Paul, locked in a jail cell. He is being persecuted for his faith, isolated from his family in Christ, and writing to the church in Phillipi. The guy’s in jail, but he seems so joyful. Several verses stood out to me.
Verse 12 says, “I want you to know, beloved, that what has happened to me has actually helped to spread the gospel.” I know I shouldn’t place myself in every story of the bible, but this felt so fitting for the situation. We are isolated, much like Paul, and life looks different than it ever has before. But God is drawing people into his arms right now.
Then, verse 19: “Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance.” Quarantine is temporary, and we will get to see the people we love once again. There is still hope, even if it looks different than before.
Then, finally, verses 23 and 24: “I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; but to remain in the flesh is far more necessary for you.”
Paul is talking about life and death. Heaven seems a lot better than staying on earth, where there is suffering, disappointment, loss, and sin. But Paul knows he has a far greater purpose here, amidst all the grossness and general ew. He is needed here. Just needed.
It reminded me of my own dilemma. It seems far better to give up and give in to the logic of the situation. It does not make sense for me to keep going. It does not make sense for me to keep working hard, when there seems no benefit.
But it isn’t about me.
“It is far more necessary for you,” Paul said. And I never thought of being a student as being a servant until I read this verse. I am a servant of Christ, and a child of God; that is my identity, everywhere I go—especially when I am a student. All the things that usually motivated me before were selfish: validation, pride, reputation, personal gain, selfish ambition. But wouldn’t it make a teacher’s day to see a piece of hard work put together when the rest of the class is slacking?
I am a Lutheran Lion—even if that looks different right now. I can’t represent my school on the field right now. I can’t see my amazing friends every day anymore. I can’t be the student I was.
But I am not going to stop giving 110%. It is this illogical, wild stubbornness to keep going that will get me through Junior year. I am a servant, and now I can prove it.
And this why I’m not going to give up.