My oldest is ten years old, officially a “tween,” as she’s informed me. I suppose this means a lot of things, but one of the most fun is that as her mom, I have a legitimate reason to listen to pop music. Unironically. Because that’s what she likes, so that’s what we listen to, along with showtunes and worship songs, country music and what has somehow become “oldies.” I’m listening to the music with her and because of her, and that’s a parenting perk I’m happy to receive.
One of my daughter’s favorite artists for a while now is Shawn Mendes, and she — fine, I — was excited to hear a new song from him recently. As I caught some of the lyrics coming out of our car’s speakers, I was relieved we were pulling into our garage. While I might be able to convince myself I’m a cool mom who listens to cool music, all street cred flies out the window when I begin openly weeping at lines written by 19-year-old pop stars.
A few days later, I heard the entire song alone in the car, and sure enough, I teared up. Amidst cries for help and descriptions of anxiety or depression or some other unnamed but relateable struggle, the singer repeats these words:
Sometimes I feel like giving up
But I just can’t
It isn’t in my blood
The tears that lined my face weren’t the result of sadness for the pop star on my radio. I cried because I feel that truth in my own life, in my own family. Every single one of us — on every side, on every branch — struggles with something or some things. And yet we don’t give up. We fight. We keep going. Not always immediately or well or happily, but giving up isn’t in my blood.
I thought about that as I nodded my head to the song, tapping my steering wheel for emphasis. Yes! I’m strong! That’s who I am! I thought proudly.
And then I thought about my daughter, who broke her leg three months ago. I thought about how incredibly hard her experience has been, how painful it’s been to encourage her and motivate her and watch her give up over and over again. I thought about how many times I’ve snapped in the past three months, yelling that she is not allowed to say the word can’t anymore. And then I thought about how this song is the exact thing I’ve been trying to tell her — that she can’t can’t, that she can’t give up, that she can’t be anything other than strong and fierce and brave.
After all, it’s not in my blood, and it’s not in hers.
But then new tears sprang up for a completely different reason. I thought about how many times I have, in fact, given up and quit, how many times I have been anything other than strong or fierce or brave. And I remembered that even though I couldn’t stand on my own or take another step or handle one more blow, it was okay.
The truth is giving up actually is in my blood. I’m just as weak and fallible and human as the next person. And just like all the pep talks and motivational posters and fight songs and inspiring books can’t force my daughter to face challenges with strength and courage, nothing can change my own tendency to run away, to give up, to quit. I can’t will either one of us into new personalities, new abilities, new DNA.
Long after I listened to that song, the chorus played in my head on a loop, weaving in and out of my thoughts. The more those lyrics wove through my brain, the more the word blood rang in my ears and my heart. And then the tune changed, and I remembered another song about blood:
Would you be free from the burden of sin?
There’s power in the blood, power in the blood;
Would you o’er evil a victory win?
There’s wonderful power in the blood.
There is power, power, wonder-working power
In the blood of the Lamb.
There is power, power, wonder-working power
In the precious blood of the Lamb.
In what might be the strangest mash-up of our day, I suddenly had an old Baptist hymn mixing with this new pop song until I had to Google the lyrics for both to separate them again. “There’s Power in the Blood” has several verses, but the short version was summed up long ago in Philippians. We can do all things not because it’s in our blood but because it’s in His.
Giving up is in my blood just like it’s in my daughter’s and just like it’s in everyone else’s. We share that DNA as humans, and no nature or nurture can change it. But Jesus and His blood becomes ours and overwrites our genetic code, our predispositions, our weakness, and giving up is most certainly not in His blood.
I don’t know what you’re facing right now, but no matter what is in your path today or what’s coming tomorrow, you can feel secure in the strength Jesus offers you. You can rest in the knowledge that giving up and giving in are not in His blood, and He’s given us that power along with our salvation.
You can do this, whatever this is. You can stand up, you can fight back, you can hold on. Don’t give up, friend. It isn’t in His blood.