Perseverance. Two definitions:
Steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.
Continuance in a state of grace leading finally to a state of glory.
After days of trying to get this post written, I am not feeling the steadfastness to push through; instead, I am feeling more like settling into a state of grace. Does this make me a bad person?
As I have been thinking about perseverance the past few days and after a couple of false starts at writing this post, it occurred to me that there are two kinds of perseverance ~ one that requires action and one that requires patience. Sometimes I need the first kind (like now) and sometimes I need the other ~ and sometimes I need both.
I was re-reading a story from Chicken Soup for the Soul, Family Caregivers the other night and ironically the story was placed under the section entitled “Peseverance”. Penelope, the author of the story, found herself in a season that required both steadfastness in doing and continuing in a state of grace. A young married woman with an infant son, she unexpectedly found herself acting as a caregiver to her 28 year old husband who suffered several devastating aneurysms. I had a chance to meet Penelope in person at an author’s luncheon and I can tell you that she exuded peace, trust and hope, in spite of the life detour she found herself on. She and her husband were steadfast in his recovery process, hoping for complete healing; but resting in a continued state of grace, not knowing what the actual outcome would be. Her story and her countenance were an inspiration.
Maybe persevering isn’t about everything looking pretty. Maybe I have been placing expectations of perfection that have kept me partially paralyzed. Maybe I have been just feeling lazy. Whatever the case, perseverance this week has meant stringing a series of words together. Maybe not the best words in an amazing order or with profound content ~ but words on the screen nonetheless. The action is complete.
But, truthfully, the spirit is in a little bit of a funk, feeling a little apathetic. I am sure it will pass but until it does I will persevere by remaining in a state of grace, trusting in the One who gives the grace to persevere. My challenges aren’t life threatening, not even life altering, so a part of me feels like saying, “Curly Girl! What’s your problem?” Does that make me a bad person? I hope it just makes me human. So I will be inspired by Penelope, who embodied both kinds of perseverance, I will accept that I am a flawed human being, and I will rejoice in a fresh start tomorrow.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
Detours. Back in the day, I used a map (and a magnifying glass, if truth be told) to plan my route. When Mapquest came on the scene, it was a treat to ditch the map and magnifying glass in favor of a nicely printed list of turn by turn directions to get me where I wanted to go. And now, I simply use the map application on my phone and a lovely voice guides me to my desired destination. I like having a detailed plan to get me where I am going ~ it makes me feel confident and in control. Life is the same way. Don’t you feel in charge when you have a plan for your future? A detailed outline of the things you want to be, do and have?
Funny thing about road trips…and life…is that sometimes you are faced with an unexpected detour. We begin with good intentions, determination and a plan but sometimes somewhere along the way we are faced with a road block. Maybe we didn’t finish that project on time because we underestimated the time it would take to complete. Maybe we had to order pizza because our kids’ needs interfered with making dinner as planned.
Sometimes the detours are more serious. One day you wake up and the one you love tells you they aren’t sure they love you. Perhaps the job you head to in the morning doesn’t exist by noon. Or the blinding headache you had the night before turns out to be something more serious than just a headache. That is what happened to a sweet woman I know.
I’m sure her new year started out similar to the rest of us ~ celebrations, plans to grow her business, thoughts of making new memories with her husband and children. Her journey into 2013 barely got started when she hit the detour. A tumor. A biopsy. A course of treatment still to be determined. As I read her Caring Bridge journal entries updating friends and family on her condition, I am in awe and inspired by the grace and courage she has in the face of this detour.
The road ahead is unfamiliar, a sharp turn off the original course and I am sure parts will be very scary. But I also have this strong sense that this brave woman will be a witness of faith even in the midst of her humanity. I believe that even though she is traveling without a map, Mapquest, or the soothing voice of her phone navigation application, she is trusting in the One who created the road and who travels with her every step of the way. And I firmly believe that He will use this detour for good, as only He can.
Many are praying for my friend, lifting her up to the great physician, asking and believing for complete healing and peace for her and her family. And I know that in spite of this detour, this year will still hold many wonderful memories and blessings for her.
It’s only a matter of time before you and I will encounter a detour, a road block, a change in direction from our own charted course. But, more than likely, our detours won’t take us off course in a way that drastically alters our lives. So how will we respond to a change of course? Will we go forward with courage? Will we trust that the detour will offer an opportunity to grow our character in good ways? Will we choose an attitude of flexibility, grace and maybe even adventure, trusting the mapmaker to get us back on track, His track? “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understandings, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) One of my favorite verses ~ one I hope you will think of the next time you encounter a detour in your life.
Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Psalm 25:4-5