10 Things to know about Perseverance
Perseverance can often be interpreted as a daunting, or perhaps a ‘boring’ word. However, in a world quite obsessed with instant gratification, it may just be one of the most important qualities we can possess.
1. The meaning of perseverance.
Perseverance entails persistence in working to achieve something despite difficulty or delay in attaining success. Simply, it means continuing to work hard in the hope of something greater, even when things are tough. It may mean being an advocate for a particular belief all your life, even through periods of being ostracised. Or it can simply mean knuckling down and being persistent in working on assignments, in the hope of good marks, less stress and more time for fun in the long run.
Note: our knowledge and understanding of what is good and right and true and worthy of perseverance should always be aligned with what God wants in our lives, and what the Church so lovingly teaches us.
2. Truly good things rarely come easily.
I know this to be true: if something is truly good, it has been attained through hard work and sacrifice, by ourselves, or by those who went before us. In a society of 24-hour K-marts, fast food, immediate global communication and internet shopping; things that are worked for over long periods of time stand out. Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in gaol, standing up for what he knew to be right and just, and St. Paul spent all of his Christian life being chased by the law. Through all that, these two historical figures made seriously significant and positive impacts on society that remain today – be it the collapse of Apartheid, or the existence of timeless wisdom and guidance in writing. What a legacy it would be to learn to embrace difficulty in the hope of attaining good.
3. It is a mark of maturity.
Here we are, all trying to keep moving forward in our lives, growing further and deeper into the people we were born to become. And yet, what often holds me back is laziness, or being easily distracted, or even being afraid and feeling inadequate for the task ahead. To be able to keep your eyes on the prize however far off into the distance, and be measured and focussed in your actions, and keep going despite fear of the unknown is an incredible strength that comes with understanding what is truly good and worth fighting for. There are plenty of adults who don’t have the capacity to persevere when things get a bit tricky, but let us not be the generation that succumb to the temptation of only embracing things that come easily.
4. Patience and self-control are GOOD THINGS.
To persevere and keep your eye on the prize requires both things. And patience and self-control are so applicable and relevant in every area of your life. Trust me. Whether it be friendships, study, or baking – having the patience and self control to wait until the cake is made, rather than eating the batter, leaves you with a whole lot more cake, and a lot less tummy ache. Patience and self-control are like muscles; the more you use them, the stronger they become. And yes, sometimes it is hard to be patient with your little sister, or to practise piano now rather than leaving it until half an hour before your lesson, but the outcomes are so much better in the long run.
5. It means we know the value of something.
We’ve all been there. Letting our priorities be skewed because of selfishness or idleness. Shifting my attention from things I know are good and important, but often require effort, like quality time with family, or exercise, to things like watching Jimmy Fallon on YouTube. I often find that when I leave things to the last minute, and haven’t been diligent in my work it’s because I haven’t recognised the value of it until it was almost too late. Honesty time: the whole idea of writing on perseverance this week came from a moment of panic when I was rushing to hand in an important assignment on time (I let this happen waaaaaaay too often), and it hit me brutally hard how much I take my education for granted. The truth is, when we persevere with something, it is in the knowledge that this is worth the hard work, and that we’re fortunate to have these opportunities.
6. Perseverance is NOT synonymous with productivity.
Sometimes perseverance requires productivity, but they are not the same thing. As mentioned before, perseverance can very much entail patience, and waiting. Perseverance requires overcoming trials and struggles, and sometimes the hardest thing is to have to wait. To know that affecting real and lasting change – in yourself, or within the wider community - takes time, and measured, thoughtful action. It’s not always about getting things done fast.
7. It can help us to live virtuously.
Virtue literally means strength, and four of the virtues that the Church considers all-encompassing are the Cardinal Virtues. Perseverance requires self control, right reasoning about things to be done, consistency in giving what is due, and perhaps most importantly, the ability to stand firm in the face of threats when seeking justice. To seek to live virtuously helps us to align our lives with Christ, and aiming embrace perseverance in your life is a brilliant and practical way to aim for virtue. (If you don’t know much about Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance, check out the writings of St Thomas Aquinas in Summa Theologica. Or a more simple explanation of his writings, because this Doctor of the Church was crazy smart.)
8. We cannot always see what we are aiming for.
Sometimes we can be working so so SO hard for what we believe to be good or right, but it just doesn’t seem to be working out. Or it’s taking too long. Or we can’t see an end to the task. But our lives can be seen like a tapestry. From the back, while it’s being worked on and developed and created – aka as we go through life – it is hard to see the incredibly intricate and out of this world picture on the front of the tapestry. All we can see are splashes of colour, and great big knots. The fact is, perseverance is perhaps even more important when we do not yet know what the final outcome will be. ‘So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.’ (Galatians 6:9). If we seek God in all that we do, even though we can’t always see the outcomes, we can trust that He is pulling it all together.
9. Perseverance is not a walk in the park.
Let’s be real, sometimes perseverance can be the most annoying and inconvenient truth to live by. I’m calling it. Trying to make the right choice all the time is HARD. Especially when the world offers us so many seemingly good things. It can be easy to paint a pretty picture of seeking to live virtuously and keeping our priorities in order so as to aim for heaven, like it’s no big deal. But the number of times diligence and perseverance is spoken of in the bible, or mentioned by the saints; gives us an insight into the realisation that this journey will be difficult. But we know what we are living for. Which brings me to the next point.
10. It means we have hope in things to come.
This is the truth: you are loved by a God who gave everything to be with you, and who cares about you more than you will ever comprehend in this life. This gives us HOPE. But this type of hope doesn’t mean wishful thinking. It means living in anticipation because we are sure of something greater. Not like ‘I hope Maccas starts doing all day breakfast’. More like ‘I know that I am here, in this room, in this friendship group, for a purpose’. To persevere through bullying, or isolation, abuse, war, insecurity, or anything that aims to crush this hope, is just as much an ‘In your face!’ to evil, as reaffirming your faith in the One who overcame it all for you is.
So chin up my friends, and store this one in your memory banks:
‘Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain’ (1 Corinthians 15:58).