Richard Evans describes perseverance like this: “Don’t let life discourage you; everyone who got where he is had to begin where he was.” Persius said, “He conquers who endures.” And Josh Billings humorously said, “Consider the postage stamp; its usefulness consists in the ability to stick to one thing till it gets there.”
The dictionary uses many words to define perseverance: to persist, continue, stick, insist, determination, resolve, diligence, insistence, tirelessness, endurance, purpose, grit. All great sayings, all great words, but my definition would simply be—the women at Shepherd’s Gate.
It can become a habit to use words like helpless, hurting, hopeless, harried when trying to sympathetically describe these women to others–and, don’t get me wrong, most have lived through experiences that have left them as the poster children for all of those words and more. However, the longer I serve the women here at Shepherd’s Gate, the more I stand in awe at their ability to persevere.
These women are strong, they are insistent, they are standing upright and breathing! Yes, still breathing after they have experienced the unimaginable abuse of fathers, brothers, uncles, grandfathers—men whom they should have been able to trust (and now they trust no one). They have survived the name-calling, the neglect, the screaming, the slapping. They have endured the shame, the humiliation, the heartbreak of feeling unloved and unwanted by those who should have cared for them. And yet, they walk through our doors with a stubborn grit that says, “I am here, I will survive this, too!” What a privilege to watch as they learn to relax, to find work, save money, get housing and begin to live–not just breathe, but live a life that brings joy to themselves and others.
Romans 5: 3-4 says, “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” How exciting to know that the perseverance that allowed them to come through our front doors in the first place can ultimately bring them the hope that they have craved for ever so long!