The Giants/Broncos game is on TV. Dinner is done (well, if you can call leftover pizza, onion rings and baked clams dinner. This
is normal happens sometimes in my house). Lunches for tomorrow are made. Laundry is folded and put away. Lesson plans are written.
But I’m having a hard time gathering my thoughts. I tried to write this post earlier today, but it wasn’t gelling. I went for a walk at the park to try to sort my thoughts.
(Note: I’ve recently discovered that I actually do some of my best thinking when I walk. I never considered exercising without music, but I was truly shocked by the clarity and sharpness I had. Walking is not the same as the elliptical or treadmill. Don’t think it would work when I’m panting like a puppy. But walking? It works.)
Since I’ve been back, I’ve tried to write this two more times and erased them both completely.
It’s not that I have nothing to say (I don’t believe in writing if you have nothing to say – just a waste of everyone’s time). I think it is that I have a lot to say…I just can’t mentally organize and lay it out cohesively.
I tend to process my life thematically – what is God saying? What have I been learning? What have I been ruminating on the most these days?
And one of the things that has been rolling around my mind has been a quote by Winston Churchill. It’s probably one of his most famous speeches – the one he gave on October 29,1941 at Harrow School, as Hitler was barreling through Europe (School for Champions).
Here’s the part of the speech that is most famous:
“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.“
I love this rally cry, but as inspirational as it is, that is not the part that I have been thinking about. At our inservice days at school, our new dean recited to us a lesser-known quote from this speech. That is what I have been thinking about. It is this:
“… we now find ourselves in a position where I say that we can be sure that we have only to persevere to conquer.“
We have only to persevere to conquer….
Persevere. Outlast. Don’t give up. That’s it. If we did that, we would win.
And this made me think how often I am tempted to give up. To give up praying for certain things because it looks like it will never happen. To give up believing in people because I think they will never change. To give up on a dream or pursuit because it is too hard or too much trouble or doesn’t seem like it is working out.
Sometimes, I am such a light-weight. Sometimes, I really don’t feel like fighting anymore, and I just want to call it a day. I’m done.
But what if I didn’t?
What if I didn’t give up? What if I decided that I am just not? What if, really, the only thing standing in between me and victory in a certain area was my will to persevere?
The goal can be anything – for anyone: losing weight, writing a book, finishing college or high school, trying to have a family, an answered prayer, trying to reach a challenging student, fighting for a loveless marriage, achieving your dream, overcoming an addiction, believing in the return of a wayward child…
What if we decided that we just were not going to give in? We just weren’t.
What if we believed that in order to conquer our enemies or obstacles, we only need to persevere?
Suddenly, the world becomes full of possibilities again.
I need this attitude. In everything. I mean, everything.
And this has been resonating with me on a spiritual level, too. I think God says the same thing. In church, we have been studying Ephesians, and in chapter 6, verses 11-14, the phrase ‘stand firm‘ appears 3 times when talking about fighting spiritual battles.
Stand firm. Hold your ground. Don’t retreat.
In other words, never give in.
Perseverance is not an easy or pleasant quality to attain. In our society that is obsessed with instant gratification, if we don’t meet instant success or delight, we are off to the next pursuit that will give us what we want. Until that requires perseverance – and then we are off again. In our more modern culture, I don’t think we are too good at persevering … it’s a skill we’ve lost in being the recipients of all the things gained by those who knew how to persevere.
But think about your challenges, your obstacles, your personal demons…what if the only thing that was standing between you and your victory was perseverance?
I don’t think it always means we get what we want, but I do think that it means that, when it is all said and done, we are still standing. If nothing else, perseverance change us.
My former teacher, current co-worker, and second father, Mr. C, was once telling me that parenting is all about ‘out-energy-ing’ your kids. The one who can hold out the longest, wins.
I think it is the same with the battles we face: perseverance wins the day.
This is how Churchill ends his speech, and I think the statement applies to us:
“Do not let us speak of darker days: let us speak rather of sterner days. These are not dark days; these are great days—the greatest days our country has ever lived; and we must all thank God that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations, to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race.”
And that is what I think is the bigger issue: who knows just what is at stake in our persevering? Who knows what part we were meant to play – one that requires our perseverance? Who knows just what is lost if we don’t?
Maybe the stakes are higher than we imagined.
Maybe a lot more is riding on our perseverance than we think.
[Thanks, Churchill, for the inspiration. In more ways than one.]
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