…or Perseverance Isn’t For Sissies
I must admit that when I prayed to God for perseverance, I meant,
“God please just give me what I want now!”
Yes, it’s true! I really wanted the journey to end sooner than later and get to the finish line faster. You know…to have the pace picked up by God, not by me.
Why? Because this year has been brutal emotionally, physically, and mentally.
The pain of losing so many friends and family this year has been breathtaking. Like a punch in the gut. As far as our business goes, we are working harder than ever. We have had to deal with some unforeseen setbacks and disappointments, like letting our office go and moving our company back into our house. Then, the closing of Trinity College, where Joel’s dad was president for ten years and where we both attended. And now our dear sweet kitty, Stuart, has cancer.
And let’s not get started on the daily news, or bring up the fact this is an election year.
What was I thinking?
So, what was I thinking back when I was praying to God for perseverance? I have learned that this is not a good thing to pray for because I guess the only way you can become perseverant is to be in situations where you have to persevere! I suppose I should have prayed to be lackadaisical or something. Maybe that would result in things working for me, not against me? Um, no. Perhaps if I had prayed for an attitude that resulted in me somehow “chillin’ out” while being highly effective and influential? Again, no.
Have you guessed already? I have not embraced being perseverant. I have been perseverant out of necessity. I may have been perseverant, but I am probably one of the whiniest preservers ever! But in the midst of my groveling, I keep getting back on the horse again. (I am sure I would save a lot more energy if I just quit my whining. Note to self: area of growth!)
Some days I sit down and get to work with a good attitude. I’m ready to make a difference.
But some days I am so fed up with digging through this pile of work hoping I will get to what I wanted to be doing in the first place I could just scream!
I just want to grab my guitar and run away!
That’s when I realize that I just need to grab my guitar, period. I’ve got to keep preparing for rain, getting my fields ready for a crop to grow. In my case, that means doing what is necessary for a concert gig! If the metaphorical rain comes and I don’t remember how to sing my songs anymore, then what is the point? Performing my songs is my passion! My hearts desire!
I don’t know about you but what I have discovered about myself is that my mind has totally set me up to think that doing something I love is…wasting “important time.” As if taking the time to engage in what brings joy to me is somehow not worthy of my effort. It’s “just playtime.” When actually it is how I fill up my mental and emotional battery! It’s the energy source that empowers me to persevere at the things I am not so crazy about doing! Ultimately, playing my guitar is what I want to be doing with my life. So really it isn’t wasting my time, at all. My play time isn’t my “playtime.” It is, in fact, the most important activity I can be involved in because it is honing my passion!
What I have learned this summer!
I (re)learned the importance of scheduling: to reach your goal of engaging your passion you literally have to schedule it into your day! If it truly is important to you, why would you leave it to chance?
Here is a perfect example:
Early this summer, my friend Roger Steinke, a Youth Minister in Bothell Washington, asked me to come back again and perform for his annual classic car show fundraising event: Hot Rods, Hot Dogs, and Motorcycles.
I was ecstatic and replied with an enthusiastic, “Yay!”
Making this commitment forced me to prepare. A lot. I practiced like I had never practiced before, for this gig. Hours and hours of prep went into tweaking my playlist, locking down chord transitions, and fine tuning my sound system. My promise to myself was this: I was going to be totally confident with these songs. To the point where they would all be second nature to me. No more of this wasting-energy-on-being-nervous business!
Instead, I was on a mission to have an absolute blast. And you know what? I did…at each stage of the journey! I even had a blast getting ready for it. I squeezed in mini practice sessions between boring technical projects. Then I rehearsed for between 1-2 hours each night. The end result was that it was the most fun I had ever had performing in my life! I was able to totally soak up the moment. It was my ultimate dream come true!
All my perseverance paid off.
What put the cherry on top of this fantastic sundae of fun was that the audience was having a blast right along with me! Which was the other half of my ultimate dream! When I perform, my greatest desire is to make it a “we and us” experience, not a “me, myself and I” kind of event. Looking out and seeing people dancing and singing along, popping up their heads from under a show car’s hood and smiling, that is what it is all about! Being in community together even just for a few minutes!
After the party ends
But now I am back home again. The big event is over. I need a new goal. Roger’s next car show doesn’t happen for another 11 months. I need to keep myself motivated in the short term so that I can persevere in slogging through the everyday work of sitting at a computer learning the finer points of technology so that I can communicate and connect with people online.
So I need to come up with another mission, aka musical gig. That way I can refocus and pursue my love, while also recharging myself to do the everyday stuff that needs to happen.
More battery chargers, please
Happily, there are many “battery chargers” you can tap into. Another activity that immediately lifts my spirits and energizes my perseverance is to jump on my bike and go for a ride. I ride with enthusiasm and go to places that inspire me. In my case, it’s not far; the Boise river flows right by Barber Park. The wind in the trees and the burbling river form a lovely music. I also go to another park to enjoy its water fountains. There is so much beauty around me. Boise means “City of Trees” for a reason. Still, I have to make myself consciously appreciate that beauty because otherwise, I still spin worries around in my head.
My inner voice likes to tell me that I am screwing around by doing fun things that make me happy. It argues strongly that I should be working. My inner voice is wrong, of course. As a result, I am more productive in my work because of doing these joyful things. In addition, I have the positive energy I need to take on the daily challenges that small business owners face. Think of it this way. Joy and enthusiasm are to the human soul what gasoline is for a car. Without them we stall; with them, we move forward.
Reframe to recharge
Allowing myself to play is one of the best ways I can be my own best friend! What kind of things charge your battery? Do you keep putting them off? Do you wait until you feel like you get enough work done first? And only then you can go “play”?
It seems like we all need to reframe our thinking. Doing the things we love recharges our life-battery. When it’s not running at full power, perseverance gets really hard. But when we’re charged up, we give ourselves the resources to take on the world.
Having said all that, I think I will just keep practicing like I have a gig in a week. In fact, every week. That way if anyone wants to hire me (hint, hint) I am ready for you… like yesterday!
Your turn! Go forth and play into your passion. It’s a soul food that must be on your daily menu. It empowers your perseverance. It helps you grow grittier each day.
Add the conversation. We’ll be glad you did.