When You Want to Give Up

by | Feb 20, 2013 | Uncategorized


“I think I’m going to give up,” I yelled, slapping my hands down on the couch cushions. My daughter looked at me from across the room, pulled the blanket up to her eyes and slumped down into the pillows on the opposite couch.

With my computer on my lap, screen glow bouncing off my reading glasses, I used up my last emotional straw on the dam of technical glitches I’d encountered over the last week. I threw my head back, closed my eyes and held my breath until all the words I wanted to spew slipped safely back inside my head.

A few minutes later, I realized that the very thing that caused my frustration was fixed. And really, this was the repetitive theme of my week: Giving up, prematurely.


I’ve been thinking about Michelangelo since I heard a story about him shared from a platform last week. We all have stories you know? But this one, it’s sticking with me.

He was only twenty six when he began sculpting David.  For two years, he ate, slept and practically breathed creating his masterpiece. What I didn’t know? That classic sculpture was originally started by someone else and abandoned. For twenty five years.

It’s as if Michelangelo was born with a chisel in one hand and determination in the other. When someone asked him how he did it, how he was able to create a seventeen foot sculpture out of six tons of marble, he said he just “chipped away everything that wasn’t David.”

And just like Michelangelo, I think God is chipping away everything that doesn’t look like me. Is He doing that with you too?

This whole process of creating a new website is both exhilarating and frustrating, just like being a writer, a mother, and at times, a friend. And it’s taught me a lot about myself. When I’m faced with what I can’t control and don’t understand, I have a choice about how I’m going to respond. I can immerse myself in it open handed, learn from it and let it change me, or I can walk away and quit.

But I don’t want to be that nameless, faceless person who abandons his art when it feels too hard and overwhelming. Do you?

A friend of mine once said, If we live the sum of our lives within our own abilities, at the end of it, all we have truly known is ourselves. And God’s glory, our true joy, it most often lives in the holy place we’ve yet to experience, the city called Beyond Our Ability.

Before crawling into bed, I apologized to my family for the outburst. “It all worked out didn’t it,” H reminded me with a grin.

We are His unfinished masterpiece. Don’t walk away from the vision He’s given you before it’s fulfilled. Keep chipping away at your art, that thing God has called you to do that makes your heart sing. And just like Michelangelo, your persistence will pay off. Joy will find you.

Linking with Emily for the prompt Joy at Imperfect Prose and Jennifer for Tell His Story and Ann for Walk With Him Wednesday.


Subscribe for Shelly’s stories and free resources here: https://shellymillerwriter.com/free-resources/


  1. Beth

    Beautiful! “We are His unfinished masterpiece.” “keep chipping away at our art…” Love every word!

  2. April Yamasaki

    Don’t give up! Take a sacred pause, re-focus, and come back to it with a renewed sense of God’s leading and strength. Blessings to you!

    • Shelly Miller

      Great advice April.

    • Marilyn Yocum

      “sacred pause”……love this expression!

  3. Allyson @ All Our Days

    Love this post. Such a great reminder that we are continually being shaped into His image.

    • Shelly Miller

      Even when we can’t see it! Thanks for letting me know you were here Allyson.

  4. dukeslee

    This is such an encouraging word for me today, as I do some chipping away on a project. I’m grateful for your voice out here on the Web, so grateful for your friendship.

    • Shelly Miller

      Your comment blesses me Jennifer, grateful for you too. Can’t wait to hug your neck in a few weeks.

  5. Marilyn Yocum

    Have you been eavesdropping on my thoughts, Shelly? You are dear to bring these words at this time.

    • Shelly Miller

      Love it when God does that. So good to see you here Marilyn.

  6. Ro eliott

    It must be the season….or isn’t really what He is always about….lovingly chipping away all that keeps us from being who He created us to be….to live the cruciformed life….each of us …unique …but each of fashion to look like Him….what a beautiful mystery.

    • Shelly Miller

      Yes, I think its a life long chipping away, don’t you Ro?

  7. Jessica Bolyard

    Wow. Thank you so much for this reminder this morning. As I dream God’s dreams for myself, I find many moments when I think maybe I made the whole thing up. You’ve reminded me, though, that He’s still working on me. My job is to just hang on. Visiting from TellHisStory today.

    • Jessica Bolyard

      Also: I just saw that you’re speaking at Jumping Tandem! I’ll see you there!

      • Shelly Miller

        We need each other don’t we? To remind each other to keep going when we lose our way or doubt where we are going. Look forward to meeting you at Jumping Tandem Jessica.

  8. Paula Brown

    Oh, Shelly, this was a really good one. Your ability to relate through your analogies is so strong. Giving up is such the easier option; but never yields growth “literally” or “figuratively” in regard to His plan for us.

    • Shelly Miller

      I’m moved the most by stories of people who had every reason to quit and didn’t. And then went on to make an mark on the world. You obviously know why those stories move me. 🙂

  9. Nancy Ruegg

    Shelly, you’ve blown wind into our sails with this post. Every now and then we need these reminders: 1) Don’t quit. 2) Just because the vision hasn’t been fulfilled yet doesn’t mean it never will. 3) Don’t just sit there and wait. Keep chipping away at your art while you wait. (‘Love the story and the visual imagery, too!)

    • Shelly Miller

      Love the way you organized your thoughts from this post Nancy. And really, the outcomes are not up to us are they? Just the faithfulness to do what is right in front of us, that is what matters the most.

  10. HisFireFly

    I have always loved the story of chipping away everything that isn’t David, and yes, my heart’s desire is to submit to God’s chisel, even when it hurts, and oh, it can hurt indeed!

    • Shelly Miller

      For some reason, this story was new to me, I hadn’t ever heard it. Perhaps I’m the only one.

  11. Jody Collins

    Oh, Shelly, I’ve heard the Michelangelo quote before and it is breath-stopping. So nonchalant a response from such an immense man of work….but Jesus does the same in us, eh? I keep thinking it’s more like gold being refined in a fire, but either way, He wants us to be more of us, the ‘us’ that reflects Him.

    (p.s. I’m sorry your new place and project has been so grrrrrrr…..inducing. May it improve over time, by God’s grace.)

    • Shelly Miller

      Oh, it was that way from the beginning for me Jody, regarding the website. I’m on a huge learning curve with it all, always. And I just couldn’t take one.more.thing. I’m sure you get it.

  12. Alicia Bruxvoort

    I LOVE that story about Michelangelo- have told it many times to my children. And I totally hear you on this one, friend- can’t count the times I’ve longed to give up on this writing thing- on this dream chasing and word threading and blogging and all of it! So glad you decided to persevere. Your words brought Me joy tonight.

    • Shelly Miller

      It brings me to my knees on a continual basis. But really, if that is the only reason I’m doing it, it is a good one.

  13. soulstops

    What a wonderful reminder, Shelly…I needed that today…So grateful God faithfully chips away even when I wish He would stop…Thanks for sharing your encouraging words with us, today 🙂

    • Shelly Miller

      I know, me too Dolly. Just when I think I’m good, another reason to chip reveals itself. I think it will be that way until we see Him face to face, don’t you?

      • soulstops

        ah, yes, I agree…this side of heaven, He will have to keep chipping away…grateful He does it in love 🙂

  14. Robert J. Gerryts

    When my students are frustrated I usually say, “That’s awesome, God just put you in the right spot to learn something.” Generally they roll their eyes, but I think one or two of them gets it sometimes.

    Thanks for sharing this.

    • Shelly Miller

      My kids do the same thing. I’m getting used to the eyeball rolling!

  15. kelli woodford

    so funny, i almost always think of “i give up” as being brave words. maybe because i’m stubborn to a fault and a terrible perfectionist at that, so giving up just means surrender for me.
    but you have put a new spin on it. now i’m gonna check all the angles on this new thought and see where it takes me. how He chips away and i hold still for the process . . .
    thanks for always making me think, Shelly.

    • Shelly Miller

      I know the perfectionist thing well Kelli. It’s probably why I like you so much!

  16. smoothstones

    Oh, Shelly, this is so encouraging. Thank you. Your blog is beautiful!

    • Shelly Miller

      Thanks, I’m still breaking in the newness.

    • Shelly Miller

      Thankful you were encouraged here Jedidja. Grateful you let me know.

  17. Holly

    I, too, have been letting my circumstances chip away at what I thought I wanted and I have been falling into discouragement. Your words here have stopped me short and helped me to see that this is not all there is. I don’t want to only “know myself” at the end of it all….Praying that I can live into the places that stretch me so that I can know true joy.

    • Shelly Miller

      I’m right there with you Holly. You are good company on this pilgrimage.

Pin It on Pinterest