“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
- Hebrews 12:1
For many women, the season of life around marriage and motherhood can be a wonderful. Yet it is also often intense. (Can I get an “Amen!”?) There are spouses to tend to. There are children to pick up, drop off, and go after. Careers have deadlines and meetings. There may be parents who now need you. Dinnertime arrives like clockwork – every single day. And there are other unexpected fires that suddenly catch aflame. The experience can feel like jumping in the deep end of the pool without quite having all the strokes you need to get to the other side.
Given these daily challenges, I want to talk with you about how to grow your ability to persevere.
Perseverance is a simple, humble trait that is like the inexorable effect of water against mountains of rock. It can help you be effective against even your biggest challenges.
It may not be a practice that comes easily at first. We live in a time where instant answers and fast outcomes are the expected norm. Yet we are still finite, imperfect human beings and our lives will constantly reflect that truth. We must learn how to keep pressing onward, despite our imperfections.
So how do you cultivate a spirit of perseverance in the face of the challenges and obstacles that are a part of life?
1. Start at today. If your task or challenge seems insurmountable, ask yourself: Can I do what I have been called to, for today only? Not for the next week or year or twenty years. Look at what is before you today, and focus on doing that part.
2. Flow forwards. In any situation, there is always a way to positively impact it. Search for that way. Look for answers or actions that you believe will move you forward. Ask family and friends for ideas, read, and pray continuously. Make that the focus of your energy, so that your momentum flows forwards.
3. Don’t look back. If it hasn’t worked well, then let go whatever you have done before. You can give it a nod to learn from it, but since you cannot go back in time, give yourself permission to let it go. Don’t continue to carry that rock in your wagon.
4. Drop your binoculars. Don’t worry too far into the future. You do not know exactly what will come, you can only conjecture. Ask God to give you His peace and remind you of His promises and plans. Then you will be able to more easily release your hold on all your outcomes.
5. Accept your weaknesses. So often, we become frustrated when the things don’t turn out the way we want. We silently berate ourselves for not being able to get it just right. But that’s who we are – imperfect! No human has yet been able to get around that law of nature.
6. Celebrate your successes. I really mean it. Celebrate! We linger long on what went wrong and rush by too quickly on what went right. Yet when we do achieve, push forward, or inch along, it truly is cause for celebration. It’s a gift we have been given – a door opened, a grace bestowed. When we take the time to celebrate, we live more presently and fully. There is beauty before you right now. Enjoy it.
This week’s self-reflection: Do you notice a spirit of perseverance within you? Do you find that despite the things you may not be able to do, you make the choice to keep pressing onward? Or does your energy get drained by the things that don’t work out?
This week’s call to action: Consider one of your difficult tasks or challenges, and choose to focus on what you can do. Don’t demand huge results from yourself. Simply do what you can do today. Celebrate the gifts when they come. Accept God’s plan being played out in your life. Then you will find the seeds of courage and encouragement to put one foot in front of the other today, tomorrow, and the next.
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(photo credit: steve garner)