Tuesday, July 03, 2012

It's the How You Get There

I've been wanting to write another post about perseverance for a few weeks now, but I just haven't been able to. (I know...there's a really good joke in there somewhere.)

I guess the problem is perseverance is such a ridiculously hard thing to put into words.

We all know what it is. We all know it's pushing through and keeping on keeping on and all those cliches, but taking it past the cliches to a deeper more robust meaning--the deeper more robust meaning we all know it has--well, I've found it's just plain difficult.

Checking into what those really intelligent, New Testament, Jesus follower types said, did not clear up the matter for me:

Paul said of perseverance that "sufferings" produce it and it in turn produces "character" and "hope" (Romans 5:3-4).

James said it was not only suffering but trials and faith testings that produce it. And then goes on to say perseverance has a work to "finish" so we can be "mature" and "complete" (James 1:2-4).

And Peter, he said we add it to self-control which was added to knowledge which was added to goodness which was added to faith. After all those first sums, we're then to add godliness to perseverance and to godliness mutual affection and to mutual affection love (2 Peter 1:5-7).

Um, guys...what the heck? Could you be about as clear as mud? I got lost somewhere in the causation and found myself in the effect and I was actually looking for the what it looks like and the how you do it?

Why perseverance?

Because perseverance is this year's theme. It's the character trait I said at the beginning of the year I wanted most to pursue and learn about and become more of.

And, um, well, that was obviously a silly thing to ask God to teach me about.

Okay, maybe not a silly thing because I really do want to be a person whose known for her perseverance. But as usual with my yearly themes I think I know at the beginning of the year how those lessons will play out, and they never play out the way I think they will.

It seemed appropriate at the time. After all, pursuing adopting Hannah seemed like it would be a really good opportunity to learn about perseverance--and it has been. But the hoops I've jumped through and the hoops I'm jumping through and the hoops I see coming up next weren't the expected hoops. Higher and fierier and turned at odd angles and just plain hard to jump through without a stepladder and a few additional acrobats on hand.

I keep finding myself throwing my head back, looking up in the sky and saying to the cosmos, "Seriously, God. I mean seriously?"

There's been everything from the utter ridiculous to the ire-inspiring to the just plain annoying to the just try and tell me I can't.

A year and a half in, I truthfully feel I know less about persevering than when I began. Which does two things to me:

It makes me want to huff and puff and whine a bit more.

And it makes me want to go all linebacker and do whatever it takes to sack the quarterback.

About a month ago, I took a look at the ever-increasing pile of waist yarn from various projects over the years, and I decided I really needed to do something about it before I bought any new yarn.

Want the pattern? You can find it here.
I found a pattern for one of those handy, reusable grocery bags and decided this would be the perfect project. Recycling yarn and avoiding using up precious oil resources on plastic bags--two birds, one stone--somebody give me a pat on the back. And bonus, it was a knit pattern rather than a crochet pattern so I'd get to work on my new hobby and further develop my skills.

That bonus turned out to be a bigger bonus than I planned. Lots of unraveling. Lots of starting over. Lots and lots of re-winding balls of yarn and untangling knots.

In the end, I have a lumpy, over-sized bag because I used too weighty of a yarn--not what the pattern called for. It looks alright, but I'll never be able to use it for groceries because it's way too big.

No doubt there was a lot of perseverance that went into it--a lot of unraveling and re-knitting. A lot.

But the piece is not what I envisioned. It's not the perfectly cute bag from the picture on the pattern and it does not serve the purpose it was designed to serve. I'm sure I'll find some other purpose for it or I'll give it to someone who will, but it doesn't change the slight irk of having it not be what I envisioned.

But I persevered.

I suppose, maybe after all, I'm learning perseverance is less about the getting there and more about the how you get there--the what kind of person are you while you're pressing through.

Are you a whiner? A moper? An overzealous Pollyanna? A what will be will be sort? A got to do it all yourselfer? A do it all for me sort? An ignorer? An eat a lot or shopping spree or an over-exerciser kind?

Do others know you for persevering well--for showing character and hope and godliness and mutual affection and love?

I hope others are seeing in me the latter more often than the former options, but I know I've been those too. And I know I will be those again and again this year and in years to come.

I really want persevering to be about the end goal. I want it to be about Hannah home forever, legally mine. And it is to an extent, but I'm finding perseverance is much more about the who I am in the middle of the persevering and the whose I am and the how I choose to reflect that to others.

I started a second bag this weekend with less weighty yarn. So far, I think this one will turn out closer to the original pattern and will serve the designed purpose. And I guess that's the other thing I'm learning, when we give up or don't get it quite right the first time, we can always start again.

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