I recently had a friend complain to me that the older he gets the harder it seems to be to “endure to the end.” As I thought about that comment I wondered what endurance is really all about. I hear the word and I think of long difficult tasks, despondent faces, and trudging through life. Not the happiest image, really. So I started thinking of it from God’s perspective. He is an eternal being, so I can’t imagine He thinks of endurance that way, or all of eternity would be miserable. And we have heard Him tell us hundreds of times in the holy scriptures to “be of good cheer.” The two images are so different, I knew I was missing something. So I started digging. A synonym of ‘endure’ is to ‘stand’ or ‘support’. From Latin it means ‘to harden or make lasting’. And in the dictionary it means ‘to sustain without yielding’. Maybe endurance isn’t what I thought it was.
When I was growing up I was always thrilled when my parents came to my concerts. I was the worst flute player in history for 3 long years. And they were always there to cheer me on. Later I was a part of several great choirs, and I think they were greatly relieved to attend those concerts instead. But having their support helped me to keep trying. I hated playing the flute, but I love to sing. And I can’t help but think that my personal motivation and enjoyment had something to do with my performance. I never practiced my flute, so I never got better. And conversely I practiced singing all the time, and got really good. That leads me to think that endurance is part motivation, part practice, and part support.
The motivation aspect of endurance comes from believing in a cause or enjoying the benefits of participation. Motivation, or the internal drive that gets us out the door, is a huge part of endurance. Without feeling like what we are doing matters we will likely never get off the couch. And sometimes motivation shifts part way through the journey. It may start as a feeling of duty but ends up being something we do out of love. I think that is what the Lord ultimately wants for us. He wants us to find our motivation in love.
The practice aspect of endurance simply comes from continuing to show up. My parents attended a LOT of bad concerts before I found my groove. But they continued to show up. They kept showing their love for me by being there no matter how bad it was. And one day it got good. The Lord wants us to keep practicing, to keep trying, to keep showing up because He knows that one day it’s going to get good. Too many times we think of endurance as a trial in itself. And we fail to see the potential for joy and the rewards down the road. I’m grateful that my parents kept showing up because they set a wonderful example for me of support.
Support is the final aspect of endurance I mentioned earlier. I don’t think we often realize how important, how motivating, our support is. We attend games, gatherings, parties, school functions, and numerous other things. We attend to show we care about those performing and participating. And without our attendance there isn’t a reason for others to try. There isn’t a motive to practice. Endurance is a team effort, and it’s a cycle. My parents supported me by coming to my concerts. Their support motivated me to practice, and it all built up to raise my skills to a new height.
When the Lord tells us He needs us to ‘endure to the end’, I think He sees this whole cycle. It’s a blessing! And even when we discuss endurance and still see it as a trudging effort, a drudgery, He sees it differently. Endurance is a chance to build and guide us and others back home to Him. As we keep supporting one another and continue practicing to get better, we find greater motivation to continue the process over again. I’m very grateful my friend (who I greatly admire) mentioned his discouragement with endurance. Because he motivated me to figure out what it was all about. And I have a much clearer vision of just how much God loves us. All His commandments are given in love and are for our benefit. And as we try to see things more from His point of view we are better able to see that beautiful horizon we are headed for. I hope we will all be able to see why we are supposed to endure, and just what it means. It’s not a negative thing, but a beautiful way to lift and encourage each other home to Him.
Patty thrives on all things creative. You’ll often find her in the garden pretending she is a suburban farmer. She loves meeting new people, and is devoted to her friends and family. In her heart she is a Midwesterner even though life has moved her all over the country. She believes in “blooming where you’re planted” and has found purpose in every place she has been. She has a deep and abiding love for the Savior and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And she loves editing LDS Blogs because it is a constant spiritual uplift. Not many people can say their job builds their witness of the Savior.