Persistence is a virtue that is lost among many today. We see something we want, we try to get it, and when we fail on our first attempt, we walk away. This attitude towards life is wholly inconsistent with the kind of virtues we need in the married life.
In January 2011, six months after graduating from college, I weighed 197lbs. Being 5’9”, that was way too much. I knew that I had an issue and I knew that getting back to a healthy weight would be difficult and would require persistence. So, I started weighing myself daily. Then I started exercising daily. Now, I keep a diligent food diary. Two years after that fateful January morning, I’m happy to report that I was down to 165lbs.
It wasn’t easy. There were days (weeks, months) when I was gaining weight. I’d drop to 180lbs, and then a few days later be back to 185lbs. But I kept fighting and I kept pushing. I made better choices. Persistence allowed me to do something more. Not only did I lose the weight, I learned more about my body. I found out which foods made me feel better and how subtlety my body changes from day to day. I still have a few more pounds to go to my goal, but I know that I’ll make it.
In the United States, in all 50 states, you can get a no-fault divorce. It used to be that the law required more than mere inconvenience to substantiate a divorce. The legal system would make multiple attempts to resolve the differences between spouses before granting a divorce decree. Those safeguards are now gone. We even seem to encourage spouses to quit when the going gets tough.
In the spiritual life, we can be incredibly persistent. In fact, we’re encouraged to be. If your wife is sick, you don’t just throw out a Hail Mary and move on. You pray a rosary. You pray multiple rosaries. You pray until she’s better. That’s persistence. We need that.
Time and time again in the Bible, the virtue of persistence is lifted up as something that is good. It’s not nagging, it’s placing our trust in God and reminding ourselves constantly that we are. We know in our own lived experience that persistence pays off. When we work hard on the job over time, we are rewarded. When we work on a personal goal, though it may be difficult, it pays off.
When we’re persistent, we accomplish things. When we’re persistent at work, we are given more responsibility. When we’re persistent in prayer, we come to better know the heart of God. When we’re persistent in our marriages, we become better husbands. When we persist in our goals, we reach them.
Persistence requires overcoming resistance. In those moments of challenge, it becomes more about the destination than the journey. We can persist in any challenge when the goal is worthy.