Perseverance is Ugly

February 22, 2016 — Leave A Comment

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Per – se – ver – ance (pərsəˈvirəns): continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition; steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success. Synonyms:
persistence, tenacity, determination, staying power, indefatigability, steadfastness, purposefulness, diligence, dedication, commitment, doggedness, tirelessness, stamina, intransigence, obstinacy

I’ve heard it said that we overestimate what we can accomplish in a year and underestimate what we can do in five. That may be true. But the deeper truth is we’ll never accomplish anything we truly want without perseverance.

I have a strong tendency to clean that word up in my imagination, to make it all sparkly and romantic, like the prince who “perseveres” in holding to his integrity even when tempted to evil, or the queen who “perseveres” in governing her people with wisdom and patience even when they so often wander off the path of the good and true.

But it seems to me that real perseverance is a gritty, desperate, ugly-looking thing. It’s that wearily determined and resolved look that haunts the eyes of those who have been beaten down by life and by all accounts stopped winning at anything quite some time ago.

It may be that the warrior who just won his 10th battle has “persevered” to that end. But I think it’s the warrior who has just lost 10 battles in a row yet remains fully invested in the fight that truly knows perseverance at a depth and power the winning warrior can only guess at.

To fight for a noble dream despite repeated setbacks, to grapple with a future you ache to make real even after many false starts and failed attempts, to claw your way out of yet another dark defeat to stand again and face the day with determined hope and supernatural faith, to let the wounds and scars of your repeated losses serve to fuel your resolve to get up, learn from your failures, get back on the field and try again ~ all of these are better reflections of what real perseverance is about.

Perseverance is the refusal to yield, no matter how many times the forces rallied against you knock you down, take you out, beat you up, or leave you collapsed in a heap in the dirt of your own defeat. Perseverance says Regardless of this, I will rise. I will recover myself. I will examine how I was taken out. I will learn. I will adjust my strategy. I will re-engage the battle. And I will overcome.

“You have need of perseverance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.” ~ Hebrews 10:36

Perseverance is what faith becomes when circumstance fails to match God’s promise.

But faith knows…the Story is not yet over.

Michael Warden

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4 responses to Perseverance is Ugly

  1. That was very profound. I just love Hebrews and that last part you wrote:
    Perseverance is what faith becomes when circumstance fails to match God’s promise.

    That’s good stuff right there.

    “You have need of perseverance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.” ~ Hebrews 10:36

  2. You just named my word for the year….perseverance…totally teared up reading this. Felt like a blog that matched the landscape of my soul right now.

    Chasing down three key goals by the end of 2016: 1) 100 consecutive days free from addiction to video games & porn; 2) rich & glowing family life (God, wife, daughter, puppy); 3) debt-free (~$10k of credit card debt).

    After engaging with the teachings of Brene Brown, I’ve started to come out of a shameful/perfectionist hiding place with my recovery and have remained in an open conversation with my wife about them. It’s transformed failure into learning and eradicated shame. I have fallen many times but hold onto the hope that I will realize the freedom I have dreamed about, and I will not stop persevering until I do.

    With my family, perseverance looks like choosing daily deposits. Not giving up hope even when the relationship is in conflict or feels like I’m trying to withdraw from an “empty” relational bank account. Not giving up on romance with my wife, not giving up on praying to God, not giving up on leaning into the uncomfortable new role of being a dad, and not giving up on loving my dog even on busy days.

    And with my debt-killing journey, I’ve faced many setbacks on the plans I’ve had to kill my debt, but I’m persisting. And this blog was perfect encouragement because I was participating in a study that would earn me $3500 but was dismissed due to unknown health problems.

    Remembering in everything that perseverance is the character God is growing in me through this all. He is using setbacks, failures, and difficulties in all of these contexts to sharpen my resolve. They are the whetstone of my determination, and NAMING it like this builds my faith and reminds me these things are possible and will happen.

    Thanks for writing this, Mike. Excited for the ugly parts of the journey because I know I’m on the path to realizing that which I persist for.

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