Proverbs 24:16a (NLT)
The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again.
Persevere ( verb): to persist in anything undertaken; maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacles, or discouragement; continue steadfastly. (dictionary.com)
Not too long ago I told a friend I think God is teaching me perseverance. Again.
Goodness but I was the girl completely led by her feelings for so long. If I could feel God then I felt like He was close and I must be doing well. If I couldn’t feel God I assumed I was not doing well, felt condemned about myself and would withdraw. If I felt loved by my husband I could exhale, but if I didn’t feel loved I couldn’t breathe and would grasp and claw at him with my tears and words and need. In my twenties if the Pastor or leadership at church noticed me I felt special but when they noticed my friends instead I secretly felt overlooked and jealous. When I made homemade lasagna I felt like a good wife but when I made Hamburger Helper I felt like a letdown. If I made good grades in school or college I felt smart but so often I didn’t study and so made mediocre grades and felt not-so-smart. When I was a size 2 (a loooong time ago!) I felt beautiful and desired but as my size changed I felt ordinary and insecure. If my mother seemed proud of me I felt like I was doing okay but if she disapproved I felt the need to change. If my bio dad showed interest in me I felt valuable but when time passed without the evidence I craved, I felt unworthy. Even these days if I think my girls admire me then I feel like a good mom, but when I see them disappointed because of discipline or being told no, I sometimes feel like a bad mom. And when I write my heart on this blog and someone is blessed I feel like I am, in fact, being led by God but on the silent days I fight off feelings of doubt. Yowsers!
Most amazingly, a smile stretches across my face as I read the paragraph above. Actually, I almost feel like laughing! Why? Because right in the middle of the messy feelings and hard stuff of life is where I learn who Jesus really is. We all get knocked down. We all battle the frenetic pace of our thoughts and feelings. From week to week most of us can’t decide if we like or loathe ourselves. Some of us find a new label to try on for a fix and some of us just give up. When we are led by our feelings, the overwhelmingly popular option is to quit when “it” feels hard. I totally get that. And I have lots of giving up stories I could share! But the best stories of my life turn out to be the ones I am still living out…episode after episode of keeping on. Of getting knocked down and getting back up. Of limping along, one small step at a time sometimes, but moving forward none-the-less. I have tasted and seen what Jesus can do when we choose to persevere…to persist…to maintain purpose in spite of the difficulty or discouragement. God has been teaching me not to be a quitter, but that only comes as I face something I want to quit.
Over the past few months, as my feelings and quitter quotient sky-rocketed, I could hear this whisper: the righteous fall seven times but get back up. Can I just say if you don’t read the Bible you are missing out? I don’t mean memorize lots of scripture so you can feel like an awesome Christian or gain God’s thumbs up. I mean read it because then when you struggle God has something to work with on the inside of you! He brings things I’ve read back to mind when I need it. I had to search my youversion.com Bible to find this scripture…I didn’t know exactly where it was!…but I had read it before so God could use it in my life. And I needed it. Having a third child has been kicking my butt! But there He is, like He’s always been, whispering to my heart…Get back up. I love you. I am with you. We are doing this together.
And I believe Him. And I choose to persist. To persevere through the hard feelings and doubts of life because I can trust Him. My joy comes…my hope is renewed…my passion begins to blaze again. There is no one like Him. Out of my heart, my mouth and my writing pour these words of gratitude…of praise…thank you, Jesus, for always being the get back up in me.