Endurance

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”

-2 Corinthians 4:16

Endurance is such an important but difficult quality to cultivate. As an aspiring hiker and runner (emphasis on the aspiring part!), I know just how important it is to maintain a steady pace. However, I also know from personal experience how easy it is to start out strong and then run out of steam.

In a way, that’s how this crisis has felt to me. At the beginning, I was running on the adrenaline of a new challenge— figuring out online school, the novelty of my first online class with students, finding creative ways to connect with family and friends, and exploring new ways to use my time. However, this week it really hit me that we could be in this for the long haul. It fully set in that school is online for the rest of the school year. And I started to feel emotionally tired.

As a result, the importance of endurance has been on my mind a lot this week. I’ve noticed a desire in myself to just “get through this” until things get back to normal. However, the Lord has been challenging that mindset. I don’t think that endurance means just gritting our teeth and getting through. I think that endurance also requires embracing how God wants to shape and grow us through this time. There are so many opportunities right now— to refocus on what is important, to slow down the pace of our lives, to prioritize relationships, and to develop resilience.

As someone who struggles with endurance, these are some strategies that have been helpful to me lately:

Embracing Healthy Routines: I think that maintaining basic routines is essential right now. Even though life is much simpler than normal, I’ve found it valuable to keep a consistent weekly schedule. I think that daily routines are also important— things like getting fresh air, daily exercise, prioritizing sleep, and eating well. Sometimes the simplest things can be the most life-giving!

Staying Connected: I think that when we’re spending so much time at home, it can be tempting to isolate ourselves. Especially as an introvert who craves time alone, I’ve noticed this tendency in myself. It can be so tempting to just check out. However, that’s not the way God has designed us to live. We are hardwired for connection and community with others. Even though it takes some creativity right now, I think maintaining authentic connection with the people we love is so important.

Prioritizing Grace: I believe that we need to extend heaps of grace to ourselves right now. This crisis may bring out sides of ourselves that we don’t like to face. Spending more time at home can surface difficult emotions and feelings. Living with so much uncertainty can be very disorienting. Therefore I think that kindness to ourselves is vital.

I also believe that we need extra grace for one another. Being stuck at home can cause new tensions in our closest relationships. This is the first time we’ve ever dealt with something like this and we are all going to navigate it imperfectly. I absolutely love the following quote by Brene’ Brown:

“This pandemic experience is a massive experiment in collective vulnerability… When we are uncertain and afraid, our default is self-protection. We don’t have to be scary when we’re scared. Let’s choose awkward, brave, and kind. And let’s choose each other.”

Brene Brown

Depending on God’s Strength: In hard times we’re more aware of our limited human capacity. And I think that’s actually a good thing. I love Paul’s words to the church in Corinth:

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

-2 Corinthians 12:9

I wonder if this current crisis is an opportunity to more fully recognize our dependence on God. We can experience His power in the areas where we feel weak and unable.

And when we feel tired, we can rely on Him for endurance.