“I have come to understand, hard-won things mean something entirely different. Better.
The thing about struggle, is that it inversely affects entitlement. It engenders gratitude and increases value. It gives shape and provides context. And yet we live in this culture that espouses ease and convenience above all else.” –Meg Fee
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” –Romans 5:3-4
Some days I really just want to quit. I want to quit writing. Quit trying so hard in school. Quit going to things and expending myself (basically forsake all responsibility) and instead just hull up in my room and read books and have everybody leave me alone. I’m laughing to myself as I write this, because I see how ridiculous that is, but I really feel that way sometimes! And I know you probably do too.
I keep finding that so many people I know genuinely want to change the world and make something beautiful with their lives. I’m surrounded by incredible people who carry creativity and beauty and healing and other amazing things within them. But so many times, there’s something that’s holding us back, keeping us from writing that novel, recording that album, speaking those words that need to be said. I think it’s a lack of perseverance, which is brought about by fear. And I’m the guiltiest of all. I’ve started so many things only to stop early on because I’m not immediately good at them, and therefore I should just stop before I fail. Because the words don’t come for a while, that must mean I’m not destined to be a writer. Because the guitar hurts my fingers and it takes serious effort for me to strum and make the notes, and because my voice doesn’t sound like Adele, I definitely shouldn’t keep trying and embarrass myself. Because I had one weird conversation with a friend or that one person is grating my nerves, that has to mean God is giving me the green light to give up.
Doesn’t that all just sound so ridiculous when we say it out loud? But so often it’s true!
When the going gets hard, when we’re scrubbing toilets and doing homework assignments and running errands instead of having a pinterest or instagram-worthy life, we feel like something has gone awry. This is not where we thought we would be. And that sucks. Because, I don’t know about you, but if I had it my way, I would be a best-selling author, incredible teacher with the perfect body, a flawless face, no hint of emotional imperfection, and the list could go on. Basically, the “truth” that I’ve internalized in my core is that I have to have a perfect life to have an impact, and that that perfect life is an effortless task.
But can I just say that our lives are never going to be perfect, even when we believe that they are? And can I say too that trying to learn anything, trying to change our lives even just a little bit for our good is NOT and effortless task?! It’s so hard to admit, and many days its frustrates me to the point that I can’t see straight, this truth that’s staring me right in the face keeps demanding my attention: that in order to truly live, I’m going to have to give up my ideal and demand for perfection.
I’m going to have to cast it into the sea, because if I keep holding onto it like I have been, I’m never going to experience that deep, true life I keep searching for.
And not only am I going to have to change my ideals, but I’m going to have to persevere: because the places I want to go take a whole lot of time and effort. I will not wake up tomorrow ready to run a half-marathon. I will not wake up tomorrow totally equipped to change entire nations in my own strength. I will not wake up having everything that’s been happening in me all figured out. I will not wake up with a full novel already done and plopped into my lap. And while those things would be nice, the truth is they rob me of any responsibility, any strength, because if I never had to work, if I never had to persevere, would it really be worth it? Most days it doesn’t feel worth it to me, because I’d like my world to be perfect and flawless now (again, still having to practice throwing these ideas far, far from me) But you know what, today perseverance really does feel okay.
And you know what else is okay with me today? The process. Getting on my tennis shoes and forcing myself to get outside and try to run, even if I have to walk most of the time. Those quiet mornings, just me and Jesus on my bed, learning His Word and the beat of His heart. Patience and kindness for myself, even bits at a time. Sitting at my computer, on another Thursday afternoon with Em, and forcing the words to come out, even if they’re not the words that I thought they would be.
It’s not glamorous learning to do incredible things. It is hard and gnarly work. It is often hidden work, so much that no one will ever see. But is it worth it? Absolutely. And will we look back one day and be thankful that the perseverance and hope and character built led us right to here? I believe, and I hope, yes, yes it will.
So wherever you are today friends, whatever/whoever you’re wanting to do/be one day, keep going. Take those baby steps. Take another breath. Be thankful. At the chance of sounding trite, we’re always going to be arriving. So let’s rejoice along the way. Let’s try our best, and keep hoping, keep persevering, even when it doesn’t feel the best.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” –Theodore Roosevelt