There is a great story that makes its way around the Internet about a commencement speech given by Winston Churchill, in which he stood up in front of a graduating class and simply said: “Never give-up. Never give up. Never give up.” Then he sat down.
Just so you know, that speech never took place. But I like the story and have claimed it in times when I needed a dramatic reminder to never give up, never give up, never give up.
He did make a speech in October of 1941 at his alma mater, the Harrow School, and said this:
Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.
He followed this up with other really good thoughts, but this seems to be the origin of the urban legend speech, which is a very different kind of speech because there is a subtle difference in the wording “in” as opposed to “up.” Giving up is quitting something. Giving in is entering into something.
I hate giving up on projects, dreams, plans. But I’m pretty good at giving in to fear, disillusionment, doubt, and a host of other things that might tempt me to give up.
I think the distinction between Churchill’s words is important. We first give in to something before we give up on something. I find myself in the danger zone often these days when setbacks come in clusters. I had several of them this week and I spent the day yesterday wondering if I was crazy, jumped the gun, taken the wrong path. I went through the list of possible reasons why things seemed to be on the verge of falling apart. I cried, and cleaned my house, and thought about applying for a job at the newspaper where I used to work. The clincher came earlier that morning when I heard the news that my dear friend and co-worker, Isaac, was sick in a hospital bed in Ghana. As I mopped my kitchen floor in a panic, I blamed myself – certain that he had been working too hard. And of course, that was my fault. My temptations to give in went on all day and into the evening. This morning I woke up to the news that on Thursday, the day of my party in honor of Rising Village , the high temperature will be 26, accompanied by sleet and possible snow. Of course, the weather is beautiful all week until that day. And of course, if the weather is bad, no one will come. I already felt like the girl who threw a party and no one came. I feared the worst and doubted my own crazy ideas.
And then, I thought about Churchill’s speech – the real one. “Never give in. Never. Never. Never.”
I ran across this quote from Francis Chan a little later: “When it’s hard and you are doubtful, give more.”
Today, Isaac is better and will be delivering beds and bed nets to families before the week is over. I changed the date of my party and gave myself some breathing room on preparations. I put a big pot of pinto beans on the stove (this is comfort food for me), and decided that things are definitely not on the verge of falling apart. I was just on the verge of giving in to a few fears and worries and doubts. And according to Churchill, who my father-in-law thought a genius, I should never do this.
I’m digging my heels in – really deep.