Have you ever been chomping at the bit to learn a new skill, only to discover once you did it, the skill was too much effort to be fun? As a kid, I felt this way about songwriting. I’d get to the end of writing a song, look back over the lyrics, and completely forget how the melodies to each section went. Each time I thought, “Man, I’m never doing that again.” I still think that sometimes.
One of my first memories of perseverance (after wanting to give up) was when I was 11 and desperate to wear makeup. I’d been praying and dreaming that Mom would let me put on more than lip gloss. And finally, she took me to a friend who sold Beauty Control—that was the line where they analyzed your skin according to seasons (they couldn’t decide whether I was a summer or a winter). The lady walked me through the process of applying foundation, blush, eye shadow, the works. Two hours later, I left exhausted with a knot in my stomach. Putting on makeup was not nearly as fun as I had imagined. Two days later I was completely over the whole idea. “It’s too hard,” I told Mom. “I don’t want to do it anymore.”
You know what she said? “Too bad. You have to learn.” She told me if I didn’t wear makeup, people would think it was because I couldn’t. And she was very firm to this point. “You’re not the poor blind girl who can’t.” So we kept practicing.
And I’m incredibly grateful that she made me keep trying. When putting on makeup became second nature, I was proud of myself for sticking with it. Now I can’t imagine what I’d do without it, especially on stage.
So this morning, I read a Bible verse I decided I ought to memorize: “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” (Gal. 6:9) And I thought about the makeup story.
You are probably thinking makeup application was not what Paul had in mind when he told the Galatians to do “good.” But go with me here. Have you noticed that most of the time, the good thing is the hardest thing? Think about the “good” disciplines you’ve chosen–or wanted to choose–to be part of your life. Sitting with others in their hard times, serving those in need, or creating good habits for ourselves like daily time with God and eating healthy. These all require intentional effort on our part.
And this effort can feel really hard, almost unending, particularly when we want to change our lifestyle or our heart. Unlike the high of conquering a last-minute or unexpected opportunity, putting one foot in front of the other over and over again takes a lot of patience.
My friend Bob is a brilliant entrepreneur. He’s incredibly patient. He has tablets of to-do lists, and he prioritizes them, focusing on the important instead of the urgent. The harvest he has already reaped is incredible! I don’t have his list-making ability, but I admire his patience and take his example to heart. Another friend, Dea, has spent hours studying and memorizing scripture, and has grown in faith and strength, which she confidently rests in even in the most trying times.
When I think about not losing heart amidst the hard things, I think most about cultivating our relationship with God. So much of our faith can be made up of inspirational quotes and light and happy worship songs. They require much less of us than to open our Bibles and dig in. But if we don’t take the time to meet God and learn who he is, how will we manage our hard times–how will we give an answer for our faith? Let’s not grow weary in sowing the deep, beautiful truths into the fabric of our hearts.
I’m currently in a season of learning the deep worth of perseverance; of doing the hard thing because it’s the good thing. I’m putting one foot in front of the other in my work, in my relationships, in my walk with God. I often plod along, but sometimes I find little treasures along the way that help me hold on to the big picture. I complete a blog every week. After many days of songwriting sessions, my co-writers and I write something that moves everyone who hears. Friendships deepen as I continue to show up. Heart changes take place as I pursue God in prayer. These little rewards help me not lose heart as I press on toward the ultimate harvest – the moment when the bigger picture is finally revealed and “I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1 Cor. 13:12)
What rewards have you enjoyed after faithfully plodding through?
And if you’re curious, here’s how I put on makeup: