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“When one door closes, don’t push on it.”

“When one door closes, don’t push on it.”

This phrase is the advice a priest gave on the radio a few days ago to a woman struggling with a decision about whether or not to relocate for work. There were many things standing in the way of her move and she was unsure about whether or not to go through with it.

I was startled by his advice because I’ve almost always thought it appropriate to do the opposite. Unwavering perseverance is a quality I both strive to have and admire in others. Mantras like, “never give up” and “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” feel as if they are imprinted on my DNA. It is a challenge for me to recognize the difference between a closed door from which I should walk away and one I should ram my shoulder into to pry open.

Mark and I pray our decisions are consistent with God’s will and do our best to discern what that is, but can we ever really be 100% certain? How many obstacles must a person encounter before realizing he/she is following the wrong path? Is it that we don’t recognize God’s will or that we refuse to accept it?

Have you ever walked away from a closed door? Or worked incessantly to shove one open? How did you know it was the right choice?

As usual, I have more questions than useful advice about this topic. Comments welcome!

The priest said, “When one door closes, don’t push on it” is an old saying, but never referenced its origin. I wasn’t able to find it.


  1. There is a distinct difference between unwavering perseverance and pigheadedness; the trick is to know the difference. Perhaps the distinction is selfishness. Is it something that you want for yourself, or because it’s a good thing to do?

    • Adri Adri

      You make an excellent point. Examining our motivation for pushing on a closed door is an important step in determining whether or not we should keep trying.

      Thank you for your comment, David!

  2. Rae Rae

    I was thinking about this post on Saturday at a retreat re Ignatian spirituality. The toughest part of all of this for me is that often it feels as though I do not have a choice about the door in question. Sometimes you don’t have the option to turn away from the door, and other times you don’t have the strength to push anymore. And I can think of many times where I certainly did *not* properly discern that something was God’s will, but looking back it seems that it was, and I only found it because I just did what it seemed I had to do.

    All I can come up with is that I should be thankful for the Holy Spirit and grace guiding me, even when I am no where near wise enough to properly discern which doors to leave closed, and which ones to burn down if needed.

    • Adri Adri

      I’ve had similar feelings of weakness with regards to doors. I need to get better at reminding myself, if I’m meant to keep pushing, God will provide either the strength or someone to help me do so. So often it comes down to letting go and trusting God.

      There are some choices I look back on and think, given the info I had at the time, I never should have picked choice A. But something pushed me to pick choice A, and now I can see God’s hand in it.

      Thanks for your comment, Rae!

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