When You’re Ready to Quit

It was kind of silly. That moment when I dropped my hoe, turned my back on the garden and declared I was done. After 25-plus years of gardening, I’d had enough.

“I don’t want to have a garden this year.” My husband chuckled as I confronted him with the news. “I just don’t want to do this any more.”

Those nine beautiful tomato plants I’d settled into my freshly tilled garden two weeks ago had been whittled down to just six. Rabbits had neatly trimmed three of them down to nubs, along with a tender jalapeno pepper plant. And, half a row of Blue Lake green bean seeds had failed to germinate, even though sunflower seeds dropped from last year’s towering flowers had managed to winter over and sprout random sunflowers all over the garden. Meanwhile, an abundance of rain and sunshine had filled my plot with every kind of weed known to man.

It was overwhelming, and I just wanted to turn my back and go tackle any one of the other tasks awaiting me. Or maybe read a book, take a walk, pick up my knitting. Anything but garden.

“That’s okay,” my husband said. “I’ll do it.”

I protested, he persevered. He wanted a garden, even if I didn’t. (The farmer in him can’t let a planted seed go untended.) It made no sense, I reasoned. We don’t have a bunch of mouths to feed and we can buy perfectly good fresh produce from his uncle just down the road.

An hour later, my revolt ended. Hoe in hand, I made quick enough work of the strawberries and tomatoes and was well into the scraggly rows of green beans and hills of melons.

“Change your mind?” he asked when he spotted me back in the garden.

I hadn’t changed my mind, so much as I’d had a change of heart. My frustrated green thumb was the result of my own neglect.

And besides, I’m not a quitter.

How often are we the designers of our own failure? How many times have I let myself become defeated by my own discouragement?

There’s that whole “is the glass half full or half empty” philosophy. Is my garden a plot of weeds and a few struggling vegetables, or is it a fertile bed of possibilities, given a little time and attention?

One of my all-time favorite quotes from theologian Charles Swindoll hung on the wall of my office for several years. I read it often.

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes.”

A change of heart, or a change in attitude. It amounts to the same thing and it can mean the difference between being a quitter or an overcomer.





  1. Minka (@prettypaladin)

    I am glad you went back out! Due to my own experience…I ended up killing one or two beans by overwatering in a poor-draining pot. I have since drilled holes in all my “self draining pots” and pulled all the bottoms off. Much better! The rest are doing great. Tomatoes are okay…but they are in raised beds and high off the ground. Bunnies can’t reach. I lost about 4 bean plants though. Sometimes we are frustrated and need a break. During those times, I just water everything, and sit and enjoy. I don’t chop anything. I just sit and enjoy. Nice read!

    • Ingrid Lochamire

      Thanks, Minka. Sometimes it’s not about the garden (or whatever else we’re giving up on) but just about our view. I’m glad I went back out, too!

  2. Shanda Blue Easterday

    Thank you, Ingrid. I have several flower areas that have been overwhelmed with grasses. I keep planning to pull out the grass but the job seems overwhelming….I will get it done, a square foot at a time!

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