We give up too easily.
It is well documented that our instant-gratification, technology-driven society does not do well with waiting. Or challenge. Or difficulty. Anything uncomfortable or unfamiliar causes us to toss up our hands and quit.
There is no doubt our world needs more perseverance. But it is not just that we need to endure. We need to endure properly. In fact, the strange reality (considering the opening paragraph here) is that we do endure. We do persevere. We’re just doing it poorly, out of obligation. Seemingly unaware we are even doing it.
A Life of Endurance
We cannot escape endurance. Life is hard. And we love habit too much to avoid it.
In a way, we are all masters at perseverance. We go to the same boring job day after day. We stubbornly hold onto one emotion or addiction or worldview. We are, at our base level, built for perseverance.
There is no other option in life but the option of perseverance. All of existence is an exercise in endurance.
The problem, then, is not that we don’t persevere but that we do it poorly. Bad perseverance shows up like persistent apathy, stubbornness, and unhealthy patterns. We persevere toward falsity, chronically doing the easiest thing.
We are committed to something. Comfort. Change, even. Some of us are masters at perseverance cloaked in “change”. We are like those people who want to travel to avoid the mundane of life only to get bored and complacent about traveling. Another hostel, another beach (believe me, it happens; it is inevitable).
We are committed to our phones. Even when we know the crazy statistics about phone use and depression, we persevere. Even when we see facts about screen time and mental health, when our neck starts to ache and our eyes start to glaze. We still scroll.
We have believed a lie about technology, social media in particular. And we are committed to the lie, the promise of belonging and affirmation. We persevere into oblivion.
The key to effective perseverance is discernment. We talk a lot about The Mood Curve and how to endure. But the reality is we endure just fine. We are familiar with the practice. What we suck at is discernment.
What is the difference between stubbornness and perseverance? Rightness. Truth. And we only figure that out through discernment.
Perseverance is only a worthy practice if it aligns with the truth. Our true values. Our true vision for our lives. Without this, we will continue to persevere down the wrong path. Like stiff-necked animals, we will hold fast to the ease of lies. The false narratives are so enticing.
Proper perseverance begins with proper perspective. Discernment. It is essential.