by Rachel Moreland
I recently came across a post on Instagram and it went something like this: “If something or someone doesn’t serve you anymore, then it’s time to let them go.”
I’m a big advocate of self-care. As an introvert, I was delighted when my proclivity towards checking-in with myself and boundary setting suddenly became en vogue.
But here’s the thing: as I reflect on self-care culture and the narratives that are being perpetuated within our society, I can’t help but wonder whether this mindset truly encourages us to grow in resilience as we navigate the complexities of adult life. Because news flash: adulting is hard work sometimes! (I’d like to add a disclaimer and say that if you find yourself in an abusive relationship or toxic environment like a bullying workplace, then letting go is the right decision to make.)
Over the last 18 months, all of us have been living in perpetual crisis mode. We have faced incredible amounts of uncertainty and anxiety; our grit levels have been put to the test. For me personally, having left a steady job, starting a PhD and navigating mental health in the middle of a pandemic (you know, in case life wasn’t interesting enough), I have come to understand why practicing persistence is such an unglamorous yet highly under-rated skill. Doing hard things takes perseverance, and perseverance is neither exciting, ‘Insta-worthy’ or easy.
But God doesn’t call us to live easily. He calls us to live purposefully. Stepping into our God-designed destinies means that we will often encounter challenges along the way. It’s how we engage with those challenges that matters. Perseverance is accepting that we will get hit by the hard things of life and keep moving forward anyways. As it says in Philippians 4, “We can do all things through Christ who gives us strength”.
Here's what God has been teaching me—3 uncomfortable truths—about building perseverance in my own Christian life.
Perseverance means stepping outside of our comfort zones and into unchartered territory. But with new territory come new stresses and strains. Our physical bodies are hard-wired to respond to stress in 4 ways: fight, flight, freeze, or fawn. Choosing to keep moving forward when our knee-jerk reaction is to run away is not only a brave move, but an uncomfortable one. However, if we don’t step outside our comfort zones, we will never grow into mature women of God. No rain, no flowers.
I have always been a firm believer that if God has brought me to something, no matter how messy, He will bring me through it. Even if that means bringing me outside of my comfort zone. Our Father promises that to us in 2 Corinthians 9:8: “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8, ESV)
Just because we feel like something isn’t serving us anymore, doesn’t mean we should call it quits. While this might be highly shareable content on social media, I believe this soundbite could easily become a ‘get out of jail free’ card, undermining two very important truths: 1) we are capable of doing hard things and 2) God equips us to do hard things. Being resilient is a choice, and sometimes that requires us to put our feelings to the side and to persevere even when we don’t feel like it. Repeat after me: just because something is hard, doesn’t mean it is bad for me.
Trust me, as an enneagram 4 I find this stuff particularly difficult. Separating my feelings from the reality of my situation is not my forte. But if I based my decision to keep going on how I feel, I know that I will probably never take that next step. At the end of the day, our emotions are like road signs; they are neither good nor bad but they signpost to us how we respond in different situations. They help us get to where we want to go but they are not the final destination.
I once heard courage described as fear walking. Whenever I read this beautiful quote by Susan David, my mind immediately turns to Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. We are told in Scripture that He was anxious and even shed tears of blood as He awaited a cruel and painful death by crucifixion. Isn’t it a relief to know that even the Son of God experienced the multiplicity of human emotions first-hand? There can be no courage without fear. Part of the reason why Jesus was able to persevere with such assurance and conviction despite his heavy heart was because He was grounded in truth. He knew who He was and to whom He belonged. Being grounded in our identity as women of God will help us walk forward with courage even though we are walking scared.
Did you get that last part? A major part of having perseverance to face life’s many challenges is remembering who we are—daughters of the Living God, created and equipped by Him to do hard things. Sometimes, in seasons of stress and anxiety, I am tempted to rely on my own human strength, but I need to remember to invite God into my struggles and ask Him to give me what I need to keep going. Building resilience is not a solo exercise, God delights to give you good gifts (Matthew 7:11).
Whatever you are walking through right now, remember that you were created to be strong and courageous. But take heart, you are not in this alone for God promises to be with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9).
Rachel Moreland is a writer, PhD student and expat living in Edinburgh, Scotland. When she is not writing, she is on the hunt for that perfect cup of coffee or planning her next travel adventure. You can find here on Instagram or over on her blog, With Love from Rachel.