Hang in there, baby! That’s what the word stamina means to me. And this is required in a brave life. Some days you just have to decide to hang in there.
I chose the word stamina but I could have chosen perseverance or tenacity or resilience or persistence or grit. So many good strong synonyms! I’m choosing stamina because it sounds tough, like I will make it all the way to the end. Though I also like grit because it sounds tough and dirty.
Because honestly, a life of faith does not look like a straight line of upward growth. It is a line that goes all over the place, up and down and around, and forward. Always forward if we have the stamina to grow. This is tough and dirty.
This is faith mixed with total confusion.
Stay a bit longer in it.
This stamina is a you decision. You can’t offload this to God.
This quote gives us the grace we need to know.
“It’s the most counteractive aspect of Christianity, that we are declared right with God not once we begin to get our act together but once we collapse into honest acknowledgement that we never will.”–Dane Ortlund, Lowly and Gently, p. 78
Amazing. This is where our stamina begins and ends. There is grace for the up and down and around decisions. We say “me, too” about that. Because God designed us to develop over time. All of our development. If this wasn’t true, we all would have been born as fully formed adults, with a mature faith and no trust issues. (Wishful thinking, huh?)
Instead we come into this world as babies. Vulnerably learning and growing over time. Jesus came to earth this way too.
This means we learn through our struggles…and through our failures. This means that in the midst of disappointment, we lean into our stamina and somehow we come to learn that Jesus is trustworthy. That somehow is the mystery that keeps me growing forward after all these years.
Stay a bit longer. Be intrigued by the mystery.
Stay gripping on to your belief in God a bit longer. Hang in there, baby.
Stay with your gift of people a bit longer. Yes, people are messy. Yes, you need stamina to deal with people. But people help us see this Larger Story God. People have stories to share, wisdom to give, consistency and time to help you see God in the disappointment that is overwhelming you.
One gift of being born into vulnerability is that we are not sufficient alone. We wouldn’t have made it past day one by ourselves. We are made to rely on others, and our ever-present neediness ensures that we must, whether we want to or not. None of us will ever be truly self-reliant. Ugh and wonderful…the gift of people.
Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.–Zechariah 4:10
Your small, slow, and imperfect progress is still progress.
Your small, slow, and imperfect faith is still faith.
Your small, slow start is still a start.
Be kind to yourself about your imperfect progress. Your stamina is your beauty and strength. Hello, beautiful.
In our world full of so many choices, what do we do when we don’t like something? We look for something new—because we can. What if you stayed a bit longer? What if stamina or tenacity or perseverance became words that describe your life? Hello beautiful.
This is a you decision. This is you making a brave decision when your heart is smashed, your soul is overwhelmed, and your life is confused. In that moment you are declaring, “Here is my cry and here is my anger and here is how I feel. Thank you for blessing the godly.”
The beautiful Beth Moore said this about what her life of faith looks like:
“Oh, you could try to tell someone younger in the faith what steps you took. You could post a blog about it. You could do an effective Q&A on the topic. Perhaps you could even write a decent book about it. But deep in your heart you know that much of the time, you really had no earthly idea what you were doing.”–Beth Moore, Chasing Vines, p. 228
I say, “me, too.” I have no earthly idea what I’m doing but hanging in there, baby.