This weekend, we gathered with multiple friends who felt stuck. Something’s gotta change, they said. This isn’t how it’s supposed to be.

Without divulging their particular issues, I’ll tell you what I realized as we had these difficult conversations with them. This isn’t a world where solutions come easily. Most people don’t receive all things good, perfect, and customized to their taste, handed to them on Day 1.

My most recent struggles

As someone who’s aware (and has a heart for) global poverty alleviation, I realize that most of my troubles are small compared to the world’s poor. But my troubles are real, and I’ve faced challenges that have made me question the validity of my calling, the depth of my friendships, and the worthiness of my contributions.

I’ve wrestled with whether I would be able to find work that was deeply satisfying, a workplace that was healthy, and a work schedule that allowed me to commit to other things that mattered.

I’ve struggled to find friends to support my multiple endeavors, to be in that scared space with me.

I’ve wondered whether my ache for more– more time, more space, more adventure– was simply a lack of faithfulness to my present reality and present calling.

And in all of these circumstances, I’ve wanted to throw my hands up in exasperation, determined to make a drastic change or to completely quit. When I’m challenged, I often seek to distract myself with other obsessions– things that will help me feel victorious again.

One question to ask when you think you're stuck

Before you concede to failure

These quandaries can make us feel defeated: relationally, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. But failure doesn’t always have to have the final say. Sometimes it does– but before I concede to it, I ask myself this question:

Have I exhausted all of my options?

Have I tried absolutely everything? Or have I simply taken small strides when I need to be chasing, leaping, and bounding?

Have I asked absolutely everyone? Or have I only hinted at it?

Have I worked at it long enough? Or have I just started trying it?

Have I reached the point of dogged determination? Could someone call me ambitious or faithful or stubborn in my endeavor? Have I insisted on being heard, seen, and taken seriously?

Or have I settled for towing the line of mediocrity because rejection makes it difficult to try again?

As a recovering perfectionist, I sometimes hate the pesky possibility that I actually haven’t tried everything yet. I don’t want to leap so far that I could fall off the edge; nor do I want to entertain the dangerous possibility of failing even more epically than I already have.

But here’s the truth: those who have truly exhausted all their options are changed in the process. They learn. They are made faithful. They become new people with new insights and new goals.

The rest of us who don’t try? We are left embittered. We lose sight of future possibilities and only see what appears possible now.

So if you’re stuck, friend, make sure you’ve actually considered every option. Don’t dismiss something as impossible until you’ve done everything within your power to make it happen. Ask your friends to help you think of more options. Be even more persistent than you ever thought you would allow yourself to be.

Do you struggle with being persistent when you feel stuck? How do you overcome those challenges?