The Difference Between Giving Up and Letting Go

A few years ago,  my daughter had her first job pet sitting and I felt like, at her still young age, she might need a little bit of back up. We took in a toy poodle for the weekend and things were going smoothly until someone (who shall remain nameless here) let the dog out of the house by accident. Our calm Saturday morning at home turned into pandemonium as all 5 of us, plus a few helpful neighbors, sprung to action to find and retrieve this little black ball of fur.

My daughter was in a panic. This was her first real job as a hired pet-sitter and she lost her first client already! Stephen went in one direction on foot, and I went in another by car. It felt like hours had gone by before someone in our neighborhood spotted the little guy under their neighbor’s porch. Picture this: frightened poodle, feeling trapped under this porch (surrounded by lattice), with strangers cajoling and bribing with treats to come out. I’m sure it was a fun sight to watch, but it was NOT fun to experience!

All of a sudden, the little guy FLEW out from under the porch! And by some miracle, I was able to grab him by the collar. And then everything went dark.

Without warning, and in his own state of sheer terror, the small pup turned into JAWS and began chomping, chomping, chomping at my hands. Oh, the pain! He may have been small, but his teeth were like tiny razors cutting into my flesh and bones. And, then, in the blink of an eye, I realized I had a decision to make:

I could let go of the dog and tend to my wounds, and in doing so, lose him–possibly for good. And I’d still be in pain.  But I would not have the dog. Or, I could hang on until someone could come with aid and help me get a hold of him so that we could get him home and be able to return him to his owners. I’m glad to say that Stephen was able to show up fairly quickly with a blanket to help gather up the little guy and we were able to return him to his family; but I was left with wounds that required a tetanus shot and about 6-8 months of healing.

Why do I share this with you? Because I see so many couples choosing to give up on marriage when the going gets tough. I see couples of all ages lose sight of the value of life-long commitment due to pain in the present. I just sent a “Happy Anniversary” text to two of my friends who celebrate their 18th Anniversary this year. This same couple seemed to be doomed to fail on their wedding day. I will never forget comforting the bride’s mother as she cried while her daughter drove off. “Her life is ruined and I helped pay for it!” Oh, if she could have only known then what God knew then. Today, this couple has a loving, devoted relationship with one another and minister to other couples out of their experiences with the ups and downs of marriage.

Please don’t give up. If times are tough, it may be that instead of giving up, you learn to let go…Let go of unrealistic expectations. Let go of having to have things your way. Let go of comparing your marriage or spouse to what you perceive in others’. Let Go by giving these painful moments and wounds to your Heavenly Father. Let go by giving up control and allowing wise people come alongside of you while you tend to your wounds. If you give up prematurely, you’re still wounded, but you might just miss out on what God has in store for you as He brings His touch to your wounded heart and marriage.


Shelley Hendrix is the author of Why Can’t We Just Get Along? as well as other titles. She is a speaker and television talk show host for Atlanta Live on WATC TV 57, and the founder of Church 4 Chicks. Shelley is honored to be married to her best friend, Stephen Hendrix, CADC II, and together, they are raising their two teenage girls and one spunky 10 year old boy. Find out more about Shelley at her website. Connect on Facebook and Twitter.

  • Sharon Phillips

    Amazing and wise words. Well put. I now understand what God wants of me. Let go.
    I didnt understand at first. I am holding on to expextations that my man will change back to the man he was and I see myself trying
    to change him back causing him to pull away. Thank you! Thank you
    Jesus for your words today.

    • Nanc S.

      I so agree with you, Sharon. I need to do that also, let go! Why is that so hard for us to do? I believe it is because we want to keep things the way they were in the beginning of our relationships, when we were the center of our men’s attentions. Let face it, most of us women are hopeless “romantics”, and I guess that is just not so for most men! I can choose to keep beating my head against a wall, trying to get my husband to return to his earlier days of behavior, or just give up, and just be thankful that we are here together. I guess for the sake of our relationship, and our health, I better just give up, and let God! Thank you, Shelley, for the great story!

  • Meghan

    I’m really happy to see this post today. My husband and I are going to go to counseling, but have had several issues in our marriage. We have only been married for 2 1/2 years but I’m already calling it a complete sham. There has been no sincere apologies to either one of us, because we aren’t even sure of our expectations. We have one child together, who is 18m old, and he’s the reason why we are still together. There’s a financial strain where we both have terrible credit and no way to improve it, so there is no place to call our own. We have been placed on a waiting list here but it’s two years til we get help from the county to get us a place and they pay over half.
    To sum it up, we have challenging dispositions and we are NOT a team. At all… even if we try, we still fail, but when I say “we” I really mean him or I. I’m just so burned out and tired of how incomplacent we are in our marriage.

  • breanna

    Absolutely amazing an awe inspiring for someone starting out in a blessed relationship. Thankyou

  • Deadra

    How do i convince my husband not to give up? I KNOW he still loves me-all his actions show it. But he SAYS he doesnt want to be married anymore. He moved out a year ago but we remain intimate and he pays half the joint bills. He says he filed for divorce because his attorney threatened to close his case due to inactivity. His mom, best friend and others closest to him tell me what i already know…he is hurt, confused, and scared. I love him and our kids with all my heart. We were high school sweethearts and have been together over 20 yrs. i miss him

    • Trevor

      You cannot convince him of anything. Pray, Pray, and Pray more, that the Lord would strengthen and encourage Him. What you can do is love Him by showing him great respect, and being an example, by living out the joy that only comes from a complete commitment to glorifying God with our lives. Be sacrificial, drawing all your hope, strength, and courage from Jehova Jireh. May the Lord go before you and make the way straight before you; that you will be in awe of His provision and faithfulness.

  • Marie

    Im in a situation my husband left me he told me he need his space and he told me he doesn’t feel anything for me. We have been together 11years but married 6years we have three beautiful kids together i love him it hurts me that he left me. I week later i find out there was a woman at his job that kept flirting with him he told her several times he was married but she persisted and at the end my husband left for her he denies she is just a friend but has torn my family apart.y kids miss there dad they pray and ask God to please bring home there dad so we can be a family again. I also pray and ask God to please restore my marriage i am fighting for my marriage.

  • Leah

    Wow, you are so right. It’s just that some wounds go deep & it’s not only healing, but learning to trust again, let alone wanting to. God is so much bigger than that, and life on earth is short. It is best to let go & let God, and there are moments it seems impossible. I still work on that daily. Sometimes I want to, sometimes giving up seems easier. But, that would be even more difficult down the road and in the future. God wants us to trust Him.

  • Debbie Crossman

    My husband and I have been married 43 years and believe me we have been through some storms over the years. We live in a throw away society and the young people today think that ending their marriage will make things better. They don’t realize that the grass over the fence is not any greener than the grass in their own yard. They just need to tend to their own yard and work at making their yard more beautiful. We love each other more today than we ever have . If we had given up during the hard times we would not have found out how wonderful our marriage could become.

  • Ana Zamora

    Thank you!! Beautiful Message. We can certainly learn from every experience in life, no matter how big or small it is!

    God always has a lesson to learn for us!

  • Gail Duncan

    Sometimes I feel like letting go of my marriage, of 16 years I do love him but here latly we just fight . Im a christian and god had been my stregnth and my shoulder to cry on .. with out him I would have given up …….

  • patrick McDonald

    I really needed to hear this story. Tonight I was actually contemplating ending my marriage. For the past 5 years it has been extremely tough to stay in this marriage. I’m not sure what my wife is going through but she is told me before she’s hanging in this marriage by one fingernail. I had told her I would be here and try to make it work until she left or we became happy again, but today really feel like giving up. I have no idea if my wife wants to be married to me or not or if she’s even in love with me or not.she tells me that she does love me,what shows no evidence of that. I know I cannot give up and I will let her know when she gets home and ask her to pray with me to save our marriage. Thank you for the story god knows I need it.

  • Louise

    So, what do you do when you’ve been married 39 years & your husband tells you he’s no longer in love with you? I tried to win his love back. It didn’t work. We are seperated & he is living with a much younger woman. God is giving me strenght to face each day. I love him & hope for a reconcilliation but I dont see that happening.

  • Chasity

    I needed this today. My hubbs and I have been married for 8 1/2 years and we’ve defiantly had our share of ups and downs… Currently, we are separated and he is involved in another relationship. Today I let my emotions get the best of me and I pressured him to tell me if he wnts a divorce or not… He said he did. It crushed me. I know no matter what God will work things out for my good but my sense of having to control things rears it’s ugly head every once in a while and things like this happen. I don’t want to damage my already fragile marriage but sometimes I feel so hurt that I lash out and say stupid stuff. I miss hugs and kisses and he just gives them away to someone else.

  • kelly

    I wish , sum 12 years ago , that the church I was apart would have had pastors who were willing to help when my new marriage was struggling. When both of us were struggling personally as well. Instead of taking us in, sharing and guiding us biblicaly, or in anyway, we were brushed aside and of no importance in the church.
    I am so glad that there are more chances for couples , such as the ones mentioned above , to have wonderful God loving people to help them and share with them. So that they see the hope and with God , through God , and great friends , have a chance to go the distance. It is sad and shameful that couples like myself and ex-husband were left behind , but it is amazing that some still find Gods glory in their marriage .
    Blessings to all of you always
    God is good :))

  • kelly

    In response to giving up and letting .. I gave up , and so did my ex-husband. I have since learned that letting go is more of giving it to God and letting go of my own way . Also letting go of hurtful things , so they do not control my emotions and harden my heart. Giving up is some what like quiting/walking away. Unless your giving up to God. Anyway that’s what I’ve taken from the two . Always happy to hear others ideas 🙂

  • Hello, that’s a great story, and i’m so glad you didn’t let go of that little dog, i let go of a dog once, not exact same story, but it haunts me bad, to this day… oh and i needed the marriage talk too 🙂

  • Anonymous

    I know this did not come to me by chance. I believe God ministers to His children in various ways. I have been with my husband for 15 years, we have been married for almost 10 yrs. We have both made many mistakes, but over a year ago he had an affair and fathered a son with his mistress. I have tried so much to forgive him and find how to move forward with our relationship. Things were going great, we have a 6 yr old daughter and she loves him a lot. He is a good dad to her. About a month or so ago, I noticed his behavior changed. He started staying out and drinking more often than usual and last week I found out he has been out with his mistress and his son, pretending to be a happy normal family. I confronted him and he did not deny it. I know it is true because 2 persons told me.

    I told him I cannot continue putting up with his double life and I want a divorce, he just kept quiet and did not even tried to convince me otherwise. I also told him I would consider moving away, he didn’t say anything. I just feel that he does not want to be in our marriage but yet he is too coward to be the one asking me for the divorce. His actions prove that he rather be with his mistress and son. From what I have heard, he has been with her for almost 4 yrs now. I am a Christian Believer and he is not. He claims to be Catholic but does not go to church, plus he is into Freemason cult. I honestly feel in my heart that I must put and end to this, and let him go for good. Any advice from your part would be helpful. God bless you.

  • tammy

    i had to let go of my marriage after 16 years of my husbands
    porn usage. It just got worse and worse til i thought
    i was losing my mind.
    BUT God had been marvelous!!

  • chris

    My wife is letting go and has time and time again=[ pray for our marriage. I still despite all of the things that have happened love her and want God to restore our relationship his way. We have a daughter on the way due on my birthday Jan 19th and she has separated from me. This is the second time. Thank you.

  • Jill Allman

    Thank you for a godly insight. Although i feel my marriage, as short lived as it was, is doomed. Not that I want it to be doomed. I just think it will take a miracle….thank you for reminding me, that God is a miracle worker, and I will do my part. Let go, and Let God. Please pray for my husband who lives in Texas now, and for me, as I live in N.C. He left a month after we got married. He lost his job and said he wouldn’t be able to work and make as much money here as he would somewhere else. But, thats not all. Historically, throughout all his marriages, 5 of them he has fled. I knew this when i married him and dated for 2 1/2 years before marrying him. He was , or rather we are both victims of child abuse as we were children. It took years for the Lord to heal my heart, mind and soul, and no longer am I a victim, nor have the victim mentally, however, my husband has not found this in the Lord yet, and has displayed a narcissistic behavior pattern as a result of all his abuse. Please pray for his healing and my marriage. I have not dated while we’ve been separated, 1 1/2, and he keeps saying he is sending divorce papers, but i never receive them. I feel partly that he enjoys this control, that as long as he doesn’t send them, I will be lonely…..but, what he doesn’t know, is that I’m not lonely.. the Lord is with me. Part of me wants to believe the unbelievable, that the power of God would not put me with someone that has used me, try to pul me from Christ, get me into pornography etc…but again….I know the power of God, after all, He saved me! Praises to our King! Jesus Christ!

  • Isabel Herrera

    Please pray for the restoration of my marriage my husband Eli Pérez left with another woman 3months ago ,I am really praying that God will bring him back he took me and my family to Jesus Christ so I believe that God will transform his heart , this past September 15 i made 18 yrs of marriage my children and I have alto of faith thank you so much for your prayers

    Love you in Christ !!!!

  • I know that through The Lord if both parties in a marriage want it to work it can. Prayer can produc miracles and miracles can change a persons heart and save a marriage. I have been married 20 years only hrough miracles I have been blessed by the Lord and my husband and I have healed many deep hurts and saved our marriage. We have saved our marriage by including the Lord in our relationship. most people think issues like we had are not forgiveable or fixeable. I knew the Lord didnt want me to leave so I put my trust in him and stayed, he has guided me, my husband and helped us work to save our marriage. now we are closer and stronger than ever. Iam truly married to my bestfriend in the world. I know if we can save our marriage facing what we have anything is possible through the Lord. Never give up get on yur knees and pray and then stay on your knees and listen and feel for the answers and promptings of what to do. then do as the Lord tells you.

  • stupid

    I didn’t give up my husband thought her could just treat me like crap forever and be selfish….I have been counseled by many Christians and they say the same thing…but in the mean time my kids and I live and suffer because I am told to not give up..>I am dying inside and loosing my life. How can they expect me to stay with a man who bring the worst out of me???? And addict for ever. 18 years of marriage live with it has felt like a death sentence for me…and the kids are dragging along!

  • Doris Davis

    Such wisdom for couples. My husband and I have been married 47 yrs. There have been many struggles. Early on I realized what you are saying about comparing. All the couples that I thought had it “all” in their marriage ended up divorced. You can’t judge someone else’s relationship just viewing from outside. We are all different and as Shelley says that is ok. So it takes a lot of work to put two people together in the same house and they have to get used to all the ideas or quirks of the other. I say my husband and I don’t agree on anything, but we do agree that we can disagree. Just because you have one way of doing things and he has another doesn’t make one right and one wrong. It takes a lot of compromise as long as you don’t compromise your faith, morals or loose your own identity

  • deena

    This really hit home for me….8months ago I found out my husband had been seeing someone for 4months…we been married for 22 years..married very very young amd we had our downs but I allways felt our love would block all evil…I was blind…I love my husband. .but until now my love beem a need for him not a want…I falling back in love with my husband becuase what he has become these past 8 months..he has done and said everything a person can do to not only for me to forgive him but for God to forgive me…but here where im fighting. these 8 months I not only had to forgive this 4 months thing but he need forgivness for past things I didn’t know about it..He hit his knees and ask forgivness not just me but god now I cant shake this feeling that im letting this women do this to another family…she had done this before..oh and she is just as sinfull as my husband due she is married…she start a online chatting a whole two weeks before she started sleeping with my husband. ..yes my husband is just at fualt..he had been fighting evil for years of drinking. ..he had just started his second year sober and believe me we know how what a change to us ….my husband called her told her that he and her needed to ask forgivness from God. ..she just said he does not her.she has cheat ed other times…I have forgive my husban but not her…I need prayer to help my sole be in peace its so hard to let her do this to other family she will…I know God has push me though alot of this and the fight with my mom fighting cancer so I know how important family is…so I need this hate feeling for this women to go away..its hard to sit back and let her crush a family and her


    My husband and I have been married for 31 years…just after our oldest son was born life was less than nice…he was less than nice…I’m sure I was too…words between us were harsh and quick….thankfully…God saw all this and called our names out loud…we were both saved about the same time and our marriage was restored…it hasn’t always been easy or perfect but we have stayed the course….now that our oldest has just married a beautiful Christian girl and our youngest is engaged…we are SO SO grateful to God….

  • I am overwhelmed by the responses to this post. I had no idea when I wrote this how much God would use it. Thank you to everyone who bravely commented here. While I cannot comment specifically to each and every one here, I wanted to take a moment to point you to the very One who knows your whole story–every single detail–and encourage those of you who are wounded and struggling to continue to press in to your Heavenly Father. As many of you know, my first marriage ended after less than 7 years. The difference between Giving Up and Letting Go, for me, was in letting go of that which I had no control and refusing to give up on the relationships where I did still have impact (i.e. my relationship with God, my daughters, family, friends, the Church, etc). You cannot control another person’s choices. Letting Go of the desire to try to change another person’s direction in life is a huge step in the right direction.

    “May God give us the wisdom to know what to do, and the courage to do it, even when it is hard.” Andy Stanley

    Praying for each of you!

  • Jenny Marcial

    I’m not yet married but I have learned the concept of letting go by God’s wisdom through His word and by allowing myself to choose to live according to His word even at the toughest times. I know I am not yet in depth with this thing not until I will face marriage but one thing I am so much blessed with?……. is to have a growing Christian fiancee who loves God more than I and with God in our side, i pray that His truth and righteousness will prevail! Thank you for this!

  • Ellie

    So, expecting my husband not physically abuse me is having too great of expectations for him?

    And if a tetanus shot and 6-8 months of healing is all it takes to cure abuse, please let me know where I can get that referral.

    I’m not trying to be rude and I pray for my husband’s salvation every night, but abuse is wrong, wrong, wrong.

    • Ellie, Thank you for taking the time to respond. I can definitely sense the angst in your heart and situation. When we’ve been wounded by someone we should be able to trust, in the way that you have, it can cause us to read more into an article like this one than the author (myself) intended. “Letting Go” for you might mean that you bring a professional into your situation to help you get the help you need as they help you navigate the right path for your specific situation. You couldn’t be more right: abuse is always wrong. Reach out for help that is truly help (i.e. the police, a counselor, a doctor, an abuse helpline, etc).

  • Connie

    I’m married for the second time (5 yrs) and this is also my husband’s second marriage. I have been thinking about giving up…letting him have his old life back. I have gotten tired of waiting for things to get better. He has a grown son that hasn’t forgiven him for getting the divorce and marrying me and so my husband has written little notes saying that he wants his family back. He has left them where I could see them and then hide them. I was so hurt that I was going to give up. Then I decided that I was going to fight for our marriage. I read all the ways that a wife should be and I do my best to follow all that God says. Nothing has changed and if anything…the more I do it the way I should the further he pulls away. But I’m NOT giving up. Maybe I have a greater expectation than I should have.

    I’ve been praying for him to get closer to the Lord…to start reading his Bible…I quit “nagging” about things like that and still he has that desire for his old life. But I know that I have to have patience and let God work in HIS time. Maybe my patience is being tested!

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