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A Few Things I Learned When I Felt Like Giving Up

“You have many options in life. Never make giving up one of them.” – Austin Carlile

There are times in when life slaps you in the face…Seasons where you feel everything around you dying…Moments of extreme isolation, as if you are the last person alive on earth.

It was 2008 when I felt as if my life was blowing up like a bottle rocket at the 4th of July. I was in LA with dying dreams of becoming an actor, an $8/hour retail job at a record store, and two credit cards that were completely maxed-out. The writer strike of 2007 had sent the entire city of Los Angeles in a tailspin, spiraling out of control. Broke actors, like myself, were doing anything they could to survive in one of the most expensive cities in America. Just so you know, $8/hour and Los Angeles aren’t very compatible. Heck, $8/hour isn’t even compatible in Omaha, NE!!!

I’ll never forget the worst night of my life in LA. I was at home alone while my house-mates were out working on their desired careers. I was in the front yard, which was basically a 10 square-foot patch of dry clay occupied by weeds and rocks. The night sky was clear, unlike my eyes. I was begging God to speak to me. What great crime had I committed that my life and my dreams were exploding? My knees literally hit the dry clay as I fell face down into my hands, sobbing uncontrollably. My anxiety disorder was out of control, just like my life. Everything hurt.

Fast-forward almost 9 years and here I am, a work in progress, yet still a wreck of a guy in need of grace and the embrace of the Father. I have seen so much healing in my anxiety disorder over the years, just as I have discovered new passions and creative expressions. Yet, I still break down at times. Life can still hurt. God sometimes seems to disappear, as if He has abandoned me…

Yet, I have learned something over the past 9 years: my feelings don’t determine reality.

God has never left me.

My world didn’t cave in.

There were better days ahead.

I could find healing, even if it was a process that took my entire life.

My identity wasn’t in the dysfunction I carried behind my eyes.

I have been incredibly hard on myself throughout this journey, but there has always been a glimmer of hope that kept me breathing. That glimmer of hope wasn’t a lie, as some may tell themselves. Hope is incredibly real. Things did get better. My life wasn’t pointless. I wasn’t a failure. Maybe I was battling a disorder, but I wasn’t crazy.

No matter how tempted I was to give up, I’m so glad that I didn’t quit on myself. There were better days ahead. The pain wasn’t eternal.

I don’t care who else has given up on you. Maybe you have made some terrible choices that have brought you to your knees. It’s possible that life just flat-out hurts right now. None of those things can steal away the hope you’re invited to embrace. None of those things can remove your value. No failure is permanent. The future doesn’t have to be determined by your past.

If you’re reading this and you feel burned out, don’t give up. Keep fighting. There is so much more to life than what your feelings are telling you right now.