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.
past years’ words
May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.
-2 Thessalonians 3:5
I find it interesting that “the love of God” and “patient endurance” is together in the same scripture, both being encouraged and persuaded. I’ve been told by a very wise individual in my life that sometimes the love of God is putting us through challenges that ultimately make our character stronger, because our character is the most important thing to him.
This scripture is a prayer for us, that we would come to understand the patient endurance that God wants us to have, endurance that comes only from Christ. We need it, to overcome, to press on, to finish. It’s something we call “tough love.” Even God uses it, and it’s always for our best.
If you’re a Jane Austen fan, you might recognize this quote from her novel Love and Friendship (it’s not from Mansfield Park, despite the BBC movie using it):
“Run mad as often as you choose, but do not faint.”
Funny enough, within the context of the novel it originates from, it’s pretty much literal. The character Sophia, who speaks the words, is basically telling her friend Laura to not faint so as to avoid a fatal outcome like her own (developing consumption). But the quote can very much be interpreted beyond the literal, and perhaps is even intended by Austen to be so.
When I read this quote, my mind goes to the scripture Galatians 6:9-“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” The concept of endurance is often repeated in the Bible; it is encouraged. “Keep going,” it says. That is what I interpret from this quote.
“Run mad as often as you choose…” by this I get that we should have adventures, be a little crazy, and not stop.
“…but do not faint.” don’t give up, no matter how tough things get. Don’t fall into discouragement and despair.
In other words, keep going.
…So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.
1 Peter 5:10 NLT
I love the beginning of this scripture,”…after you have suffered a little while….” It reminds me that this is God’s perspective: Character first, comfort later. Sometimes, He doesn’t care about how comfortable you are. He’s more concerned with building your character. Character building doesn’t happen except outside the comfort zone. The way this sentence is phrased, it’s telling us that there is a guarantee that we’ll do some suffering (“Here on this earth you will have many trials and sorrows…” John 16:33), but there’s a reason for them (“…for we know that they help us develop endurance.” Romans 5:3).
And the second part of the scripture? It reminds us that God does not forget about us while we do our character-building suffering. After we go through the trial and develop some endurance, He picks us back up and sets us on our way again. It’s a cycle, all with a greater purpose in mind.
Romans 5:3-5 says: “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
Despite how much God wants to see your dreams fulfilled, and help you achieve those dreams (he has a purpose for you, after all), there is something significantly more important to him than that, and which should be more important to you. That is character.
And here’s the thing: you can invest in Character right now. You began from the moment you had the ability to make your own choices. Character doesn’t need resources. In your life pursuits, character comes before dreams. And with good character, the pursuit of your dreams will be more successful and pleasant. To the right people, your character will stand out stronger than your ability; to the right people.
What you leave behind will stick around longer than what you bring about in your lifetime. Don’t stop pursuing dreams, but pursue character first.
Things are moving fast,
A bit faster than I like.
I better hold my breath.
By Catherine Joy