Tomorrow is a new year, and it’s time for a new word. For 2017, it is the year of Endurance.
Halfway through 2016, this could have honestly been my word instead of Independence. My mind was already shifting to this focus. This year I wasted a lot of time being disillusioned about my life; I fantasized way to much and ended up disappointing myself because, surprise! life isn’t a fantasy. My writer mind wishes it can create my own story just as easily as it creates others, but I’m not the only one who can throw curveballs into the fray. By October 2016, I figured out what word I needed to focus on next. It came like a clear beam of sunlight through the reddening autumn leaves.
Here’s why Endurance is my word for the year: I’m a wimp. I’m not saying that because I started hating on myself. I really am a wimp. Or, in nicer words, I don’t have as thick skin as I thought I did. I am a naturally emotional person who quits on things too soon because I didn’t get an instant “click” within the first few days. This bad trait has caused me to make several regretful decisions that I try to distract myself from to keep the shame level low. I don’t seem to have any endurance, for anything.
I think it was when I came across Hebrews 10:36 one September morning as I was on the bus that I decided on the word:
Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.
“Patient endurance” kept playing over and over in my head. It certainly was what I needed right now. The Bible has so many examples of people who endured through much suffering in order to finish and receive the reward: Joseph, Job, Elijah, Paul…not to mention Christ himself.
With a focus on Endurance, I want to develop every part of my endurance: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. I don’t want outside forces to determine my choices anymore. I don’t want to be such an easy quitter anymore. I don’t want to be controlled by flighty emotions that just end up driving myself and others crazy. I want to endure, especially during the hard parts. I want to get strong. I’m working out this year, and I mean my mental muscles.
There’s a small, very small, percentage of people who are truly content staying in the same place. That’s generally those who are 50 and older. I don’t mean staying in the same job or living in the same house. I mean staying in the same place, whatever that may be. Mostly physical. If it also means something emotional or psychological, changing the physical can often be the catalyst to a healthy emotional or psychological change. There comes a time when changing the atmosphere is a stronger need than a want.
When should you change the atmosphere?
“Well, when you’re unhappy, of course!”
Not necessarily. When I’ve been unhappy in places or situations, I consider the holy struggle that I believe is mine to share with Christ, and that’s to be put in circumstances that are either meant to help me grow or help someone else. If we left everything that ever made us unhappy, we’d be going on an endless, futile journey. And everyone is made happy by different things. Happiness is important, but it should never be the main thing we consider when we want a change of atmosphere.
A change of atmosphere is in order when you see an end to growth. If you wake up and realize that you are the same person that you were last week, a lightbulb should go off. A healthy place is a place where you are growing, lots, and if you’re not, then it’s time to move on. Also, if you discover that no one has been positively changed by you being there in recent history, then that also should trigger a lightbulb. It may be difficult to separate the absence of purpose from the absence of happiness, but that’s because the two usually go hand in hand. If you are feeling unhappy, take a deep look and try to figure out why. If it’s just because you want to escape some problems or you can’t stand a certain person or you want to try something new, maybe it’s not the best to go just yet. But, if you really believe deep down that you are not growing and no one else is growing, then consider making a change of scenery.
The pursuit of change and growth is always a good thing. What creates problems is if the reason for change is not necessarily a good thing. Remember, character comes before dreams.