When the going gets tough, the tough get going!

At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, many of us seemed to have more space in our day and time to reflect on ideas, relish in a slower pace, and delve into learning a new hobby.

All kinds of things emerged: sewing projects, gardening adventures, cooking conquests, technological feats, horticultural advancements, book-reading triumphs, complex building structures, writing endeavors, major home repairs, intense exercise training and great Bible-reading plans.

Goals high and lofty and mighty and wonderful to fill all of this extra at-home time.  Lots of action and activity ensued.

It was great. We felt accomplished. We finally had some time and space in the day to pursue the things WE wanted to do. Life felt a bit breezy. We were sailing by ash breeze. For a while.

Then the new wore off. The novelty was gone. Nine o’clock started seeming early again.

The wind went out of our sails, and it was hard to get going.

The new-found motivation seemed to have floated out the window.

But, where did it go?

It’s easy to keep at things at first, but then it gets crazy hard! Why?

Do you remember Nat Bowditch from the book Carry On, Mr. Bowditch? The one who “sailed by ash breeze” by his own “get up and go” while he was indentured for nine long years?

He bolted out of the gates, ready to go. But soon after, he had to fend off nagging thoughts of discouragements from himself and others when they popped up.

In a scene from the book, Ben Meeker, a disgruntled, defeated old man, who had been hanging around the chandlery, asked Nat about his notebooks. Nat had been filling up notebook after notebook on navigational information. Nat told Ben that he had been “sailing by ash breeze.”

Then discouragingly, “Ben shrugged. ‘I suppose you’ll work that way at first. But nine years is a long time. You’ll get mighty tired of sailing by ash breeze.’”

Work that way at first? Nat was discouraged, but then he had to just shake it off and keep on persevering. And just keep on keeping on.

When you stop, it is hard to get going again. It takes extra effort when you lose momentum. Picture the metallic multi-car train stopped on the tracks lurching and lunging jerkily as it perks back to life.

So how do we keep at something when the fun and joy dissipate? When you don’t see immediate rewards or results of your efforts? How do we keep our enthusiasm and press on when the newness wears off? When the fun wanes? When the results seem delayed? When it’s hard?

You take the long view.

So, as we face challenges in life, how are we going to carry forward with some of these new hopes and desires and efforts?

How do we keep the long view in mind?

Trees are a good example of the long view. Changes don’t happen overnight. People, like trees, also need time to flourish. How can we do this?

We can:

  • Establish deep roots in educational and spiritual disciplines.
  • Cultivate good habits so that we can grow tall and straight.
  • Persevere in order to bear fruit to be of service to God and man.
  • Delight in and celebrate growth, then continue in it.
  • Keep watering and nurturing the plant (or the person!) after – and even before – you see the first shoots of leaves.
  • Seek out ways to serve others and contribute to their needs.
  • Pray for one another.
  • Show empathy. Share your story. Take time to listen. We have all been through painful things and can deeply relate to the pain of others.
  • Be an encourager.
  • Demonstrate gratitude. Begin and end each day with thanks. Be thankful for the little things.

Human flourishing is a life-long endeavor. Intellectual and spiritual growth continue beyond graduation; it’s an ongoing process.

And, if we do stop, let’s resolve to get up and get going again!

Persevere and Carry On!

by Stephanie Boss, CCS 5th Grade teacher