A few weeks ago, in my “Sing Praise” article I wrote about persistence (in prayer and all things)—and I think that perseverance is a close sister to this idea. I have been thinking a lot about these two ideas and how they relate to consistency—another verbal ‘cousin’ to these concepts. As a musician, I know that perseverance, persistence and consistency must be made habit in terms of accomplishing musically what needs to be learned, practice and then shared. I also know that although I have these elements as part of my life as a musician—they are not always present in other areas of my life in my choices and the habits of my daily living.
Currently I am on a journey to better physical and spiritual health—trying daily to better respect the “Tabernacle” for the Holy Spirit in which I reside. I am working hard to replace any unhealthy habits with healthy ones; an on-going and every-day pursuit for perseverance, persistence and consistency. We were all made to be creatures of habit: God (and our faith) has given us the ability to fortify the good and excavate the bad (or unhealthy, evil, sinful) from our hearts and minds and bodies and spirits.
I have been reading a book lent to me by one of my youth choir moms (thanks Emilia!) about habits: (The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. I am trying to better understand how habits happen (my own habits in particular) and how they are born of cues, routines and rewards (euphoric recall)—I just love brain stuff! I am already cognizant about creating habits through practice and repetition—that’s an integral part of the life of a musician—it is the other personal part of my life that is at issue. What I am starting to understand is that you cannot (generally) just stop a bad habit—it needs to be replaced with something else or other that is a good habit, or leads to a good habit.
Craving (for any something) is what makes cues and rewards work: that craving (the euphoric recall), is what powers our habits. So: what do you crave? Bad habits are set by the rewards we receive—the stuff that feels good, tastes good, etc. (even when it’s destructive to ourselves and others, like an addiction). But if what you yearn for is to be the best version of yourself that God created you to be—if you crave a life in Christ in all things and with all that it brings—you must have a “cue and reward” that creates habits that will lead you heavenward. This is no small thing—to create any habit of perseverance—or a habit of faith and prayer.
So, what does this have to do with today’s Gospel? First, remember that nothing easily won is highly valuable—if something was easy, everyone could/would do it. Also, that everything we do has a cost to us of time, energy, and an investment of who and what we are. Plutarch said that “perseverance is more prevailing than violence; many things which cannot be overcome when they are together yield themselves up when taken little by little.” So, in any moment of challenge (whatever it may be), stop, take a breath, and pray. Persevere in this habit of stopping for a moment—in the face of the cue of whatever you may be confronting—and the reward is a habit of God’s grace and guidance, and “the rising of the sun of justice with its’ healing rays.” Healing! Thank you, Jesus! This habit of perseverance (stopping for a breath) is described very well by this old Celtic Blessing:
God to enfold me, God to surround me,
God in my speaking, God in my thinking.
God in my sleeping, God in my waking,
God in my watching, God in my hoping.
Keep persevering, persisting and striving for consistency in all things, and all Godly things—every new day is an opportunity to create a good habit for all the parts of your life.