The Value of Just Holding On

Sometimes it’s all you can do just to hold on. And that’s OK. That’s enough. That’s what it takes.

Of course, it goes without saying, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” So there is also a time for just letting go.

Getting them right is what matters.

History is replete with names of those we remember just because they knew to just keep holding on: Christopher Columbus, Helen Keller, the Wright brothers, Thomas Edison, “Unconditional Surrender” Grant, Mother Teresa, and many others. We remember the names of famous battles for just holding on, even to the point of death: Thermopylae, Masada, the Alamo, Gettysburg, Normandy—the list goes on. Scripture has its own “Hall of Fame”—Hebrews chapter 11 lists many who just held on: Noah, holding on for 120 years building, and then another full year afloat; Moses, holding on to the possibility of creating a free people out of slaves (even holding out against the Lord, who more than once told Moses to move over and let him kill them all and start over with Moses!), Jacob wrestling with the angel and holding on till he limped. Our favorite heroes in books and movies are often those who held on against extreme odds: Frodo, Luke Skywalker, Rocky Balboa, Neo, Jake (in Avatar), and more. We admire survivors and survival stories, and tell them to ourselves and our children, and even make up reality shows based on seeing who can hold on the longest!

Why do we hold on? What do we hang on to? What makes us hold on? What is it that makes us value tenacity, total loyalty, unflinching bravery? There’s something unquenchable in the human spirit. Maybe it’s related to the will to live. Maybe it’s more.

Sometimes we hold onto HOPE. Sometimes it is knowing that what we’re holding onto is somehow “RIGHT”—right and good and just and wholesome and fair and desirable. Sometimes it is the encouragement of someone whose insight we respect, telling us that we CAN do it, that it IS worthwhile, that the end IS IN SIGHT. Sometimes it’s because, as the song says, “I still haven’t found what I’m lookin’ for.”

Sometimes it is because we have seen others not hold on, and we know how devastating that can be. I had a professor in college who used to say, with a twinkle in his eye, “Don’t commit suicide today—you can always do it tomorrow.” And I did find it humorous, but it helped me because I had seen personally how my own father’s NOT holding on impacted my life—he committed suicide when I was only 3 and my sister 2. But maybe, in his own way, even he held on—he had 3 other bullets under his pillow, but at 6:45 am, told my mom to get up and fix breakfast. Somehow he found some measure of hope and allowed us to live. Even in the ultimate giving up, he held on. At least I have to hold onto that belief.

And if I’m wrong? There are a lot of places where being wrong IS clearly wrong. But here, I don’t think it is. Holding onto that kind of faith and hope has enabled me to live more than twice as long as he did, and to see my grandchildren, one of them almost grown. Even holding onto the failures of those who have preceded us—or even our own failures—can be a good thing, if it points us toward holding on in the right way.

Just hold on. Someone needs you to.

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2 Responses to “The Value of Just Holding On”

  1. adoptingjames Says:

    What a great reminder. I’m reminded of a picture I drew when I was younger. It was a picture of God’s hand reaching down from above the page and a little man holding onto His finger and below him the world is falling away. The caption said, “Hold on to God, even when your world is falling around you.”

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