Learning Perserverance in Difficult Times
Alexander, Andy, S.J.
Waldron, Maureen McCann
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Text from the first four paragraphs of "Learning Perseverance in Difficult Times"Sometimes, the Load We Carry Is Very GreatIn a season dedicated to hope and expectant longing, it is good to name the fact that for some of us, life is very difficult. For some, there are extraordinarily painful realities before us. More and more, financial dilemmas are tearing us apart. If we have lost a loved one, if we are in the middle of a deteriorating or abusive relationship or trying to cope with a broken one, grief can cloud our hope. If we are facing a life-threatening health crisis or if we struggle to endure a chronic condition, we can find ourselves nearly paralyzed emotionally and spiritually. The word "perseverance" can put us off, especially if it comes from someone who doesn't seem to understand what we are suffering. We can think it just means, "you just have to endure this without feeling sorry for yourself." The actual Latin root of the word "persevere" can help us. There are three parts of the word: per - se - vere. Loosely translated it says: "by means of the truth." We persevere by recalling and staying close to the truth. What truth? The truth of who we are and what our life is about. That's why Advent can be a season of perseverance, as well as a season of hopeful longing. When we let the truth of God's love for us touch our wounds, we begin to taste our salvation. How do I persevere, if the pain doesn't go away? When we find ourselves stuck in a painful situation, we can be tempted to think that we can't experience "relief." Sometimes tears just overwhelm us and we are reminded how close the pain is and how vulnerable we really are. Major stress or financial pressure magnifies any difficulties we have in communicating. Deep losses or profound ruptures in relationship pre-occupy everything else. When we are experiencing such grief or anger, it touches any grief or anger. So, small losses or disappointments become very big. Small things people do that might disappoint us, seem to fuel an outburst of rage. And the approach of Christmas can intensify every emotion and leave us feeling helpless and hopeless.