I remember the first time I taught someone the meaning of the word “persistence.”
Our oldest daughter was about four. Maybe less. My husband and I took her to the townhouse complex playground—a sad affair consisting of an old school metal slide, haphazard swings, and one ancient set of monkey bars. But those monkey bars—they were the holy grail. She wanted more than anything in life to cross those monkey bars.
So she tried. And tried. And tried again. After about ten or twelve tries, she did it. She crossed the whole set. These were full size, big kid monkey bars. And she was a 10th percentile in height and weight four-year-old. (Maybe less.) An achievement indeed.
When she ran back to us, triumph in her eyes, my husband bent down to her and said, “Becca, you are persistent!”
“What is persistent?” she wanted to know.
So we told her. One of my daughter’s first identifying labels that she pinned to herself that day was “persistent.” I had no idea how much she would need that label. I wish I could say all the others we gave her over the years have been so positive. But that first one—that was a worthy beginning.
We women label ourselves at every turn. Bad mom. Too emotional. Incompetent. Not enough. We pin those words on ourselves and accept them as our identity, taking them into our very souls. What power there is in having one of your first labels be something so positive and strong. Persistent.
It’s a good word.
Yes, it’s a hashtag now. But I don’t think it has to be a political hashtag. (Although, you know, I have many political thoughts. Many.) I think it represents something higher and far more encompassing than mere politics. It’s all the women who persist. All of us who, despite outside odds, inside demons, or people who simply do not support our dreams and try to shut us down, persist. Those women drive us. They give us hope. They keep us striving for our hopes and dreams.
They make us persist.
And that’s a good word.
So I’m going to give space to those women. We’re going to explore their stories. Those who have persisted, tried something new, believed in their dreams, overcome (or persisted and not overcome), and learned something about themselves in the process. I pray that they give you hope. I would love to hear your stories of persistence. I will be featuring some gifted to me.
Let’s change our labels. Let’s peel off the ones that say, “Unable. Quitter. Daydreamer. Too late. Not enough _____.” Fold them up into tiny balls of sticky paper and toss them away. They are not your names.
Together, let’s forge some new ones. “Fighter. Carer for that which matters. Worker. Grace-giver. Journeyer. Dream-creator.”
What’s your story? Have you a story of triumph through persistence? Has someone in your history? Have you a story of disappointment and labels you’d like to shed? Maybe your story is being written right now, and you’re in the trenches of trying tho persist, but you’re not sure if you’ll survive.
“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” Galatians 6.9
Don’t grow weary. Persist. Come back and listen to the stories of those who did. And please, tell your own.