I have a friend who possesses the gift of perseverance. She nearly died after giving birth. She also survived cancer and hard times and her husband’s betrayal. Another friend used to struggle to stay sober. She lost her health, her baby, and her marriage. Today, you wouldn’t know how hard she fought to regain a sense of balance after years of living on a knife’s edge. She is no longer surviving, she is fully alive–she is thriving. My mother-in-law possesses more perseverance in her little finger than I lay claim to in my entire body. She has experienced more loss and un-fixable health issues than any person I know. She once stood in front of a crowd, prepared to give a speech, when she collapsed and nearly hemorrhaged to death right in front of them. She talks about it in throw away comments now, nonchalant in the face of my incredulity. The priest at the hospital read last rites over her that night, but twenty-five years later she remains impossible to tie down with words, alive and unshaken.
Perseverance. Some of us have it, and others of us find ourselves crying and curled up in the fetal position at the mere mention of our three kids staying home with their endless bickering all day, every day for summer vacation. I wish I was hypothetically speaking. I may have also given up writing “FOR GOOD” every day for the last week because it comes with a knife-edge all its own, and this impossible balance of risk and rejection is making me dizzy.
After enough woe is me conversations, my husband told me, in the nicest way possible, to pull it together.
And so I find myself gathering up all the stuff I let hemorrhage over the edges. I’m beginning to think perseverance is a lot like courage. Courage isn’t the absence of fear, it is moving forward in the face of it. Perseverance is much the same. It’s not the absence of crying or encroaching apathy or momentary lapses in dream-chasing. It’s waking up each morning, gathering up the spills, and moving forward in the face of it. I’m not ready to say goodbye to summers without my not-so-babies, or give up on words, or quit dream-chasing my way through life just yet. I want more and more and more of it. Maybe perseverance comes with practice, for those of us who don’t come by it naturally. Maybe we need to let desire rise up, extend its hand, and illuminate it.
In what area of your life are you persevering? Does it feel natural to you, are does it take practice?