During my 4th grade school year, my house was flooded by the Lewis River in Woodland, WA. This was definitely an experience I remember vividly. Many people in our town had a similar flooding situation; however, I was the only one in my class whose home had flooded. My teacher at the time, Mrs. Fredricks, was a kind woman who spoke into my life a lot that year. I went back to school the next day after the flood and I remember the hug she gave me. She hadn’t expected me back to school so quickly and her response made an impression on me. Throughout the year, she shared words of encouragement with me.
One time when we were on the bus driving back from swimming lessons, she sat beside me and shared that sometimes we have hard situations in our lives so that we can help others later through their own hard situations. As a 4th grader, I thought that was nice to say, but the true meaning didn’t sink in right away. At the end of the school year, Mrs. Fredricks gave out awards to many of the students in her classroom (I’m guessing everyone got one, but I only remember my own). She gave me the award for Most Tenacious.
Until this award entered my life, I didn’t even know what the word tenacious meant. One definition of tenacious given by Webster’s dictionary is “persistent in maintaining, adhering to, or seeking something valued or desired.” My little 4th grade self was unaware of the impression I was making while just trying to make it through the school year and recover somewhat of a normal life. I have had other accomplishments in my life, but winning Most Tenacious still stands out to me.
It seems easy to be tenacious in a time of struggle. When life gets hard we all need an extra bit of tenacity to make it through. When you’re working towards that goal – whether it is finishing a degree, buying a home, seeking promotion and advancement, trying to reach a new level of ministry, or trying to reach that one person who needs break through – we seem to be hold to hold tight and maintain a firm direction and course. These moments strengthen us as we use “faith muscles” we may have never had to use before.
Recently, I found myself in a place where I have felt stuck. I’ve always been a very goal driven person. Some of them have come true through a lot of hard work and some still wait to become reality. At some point, I felt like that I had done all that I could do. Things were the way they were and I couldn’t do anything to change it. I was at a crossroads. I could decide to accept things as they are or push forward and believe that there is still more out for me. As I began to think over all the dreams that I still have, this whole story of my Most Tenacious Award came floating up from my memory. I realized that I wasn’t acting very much like my 4th grade self who pushed through the sometimes yucky, real life stuff and moved on with my life.
There are moments when I get tired and I lose my tenacity. I don’t maintain the course and I feel stuck where I am. I know that when I push through these emotions and feelings, I can see that God has a lot in store for me when I’m willing to keep pressing on for the next thing. I have not arrived yet, I’m not who I want to be and I know that God’s not finished with me yet. I can sit back and let life happen to me or I can partner with God and be proactive. It’s easy to get comfortable where we are at – even if we are unhappy there. It takes courage to step forward and say I want more and I am going to put myself in line with God’s will and go for it. True accomplishment doesn’t come from sprints of emotion, but from a tenacious spirit who is willing to maintain the course and not give up the dream regardless of anything.