Perseverance: Helen Keller

what is it that holds you back? What stops you from aiming high? What stops you from achieving your goals?I have to admit, that the answer for those questions for me, is ME! I can be my own worst enemy. If I get it into my head that I’m not going to be good at something, then I give up. I struggle to dream big, because I assume I’m not going to be able to do it.

This is probably the case with all of us if we’re honest. And yet… what are the stories that we love to hear the most? It’s the ones where people have achieved great things… inspire of difficulties that they have faced. We love those stories, the media know that we love them, and yet we probably all sit there thinking “well that’s great for them, but I could never do that”.

It’s hard work isn’t it? Why bother? Because deep down we know how much more we appreciate things when we put the effort in, when we’ve had to work hard to achieve something.

I remember, as a child, thinking how easy it must be to be a professional athlete, just turning up and running – simple. Yet we know that it isn’t that simple, they have to put so much effort in, they will have failed at times, and they will have had to sacrifice a lot in order to succeed. That’s why they often get so emotional when they succeed.

Perseverance… out of all the schools values I think this is the one I most admire, but the one that scares me the most. It’s probably going to result in the most heartbreak. With perseverance you have to have a goal, and be willing not to give up. Helen Keller is a great example of someone with perseverance, she wasn’t going to let the fact that she was deaf and blind stand in her way. As a child she used to get angry and frustrated, but people worked alongside her, to enable her to communicate. She said

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved”

It is very easy to read that and think – well my life is pretty easy, therefore I’m not going to build character. I know I often say to pupils ‘you don’t realise how lucky you have it’. But actually we will all come across trials and tribulations. They may not be as ‘big’ as being deaf and blind, but to us it will still be a trial. Perseverance isn’t about the size of the trial, it is about how you respond to it. Are you just going to give up as soon as it comes along, or are you going to embrace the challenge.

The problem with embracing the challenge is the possibility of failure. Perseverance means that when you fail you get back up and try again, and again and again. Perseverance is going to look different for each of us. After all, although we are all made in Gods image, we are all different. We all have different talents, different skills, different challenges. The question is… how will you respond to your challenge?

don’t think that you have to do it on your own. Helen Keller needed help and support, athletes need experts. Find someone who can help you out, and help you face the challenge head on. Also, pray, we are told that we do not have to do things in our own strength. The parable associated with this value is the widow who persevere and kept going to a judge, and Jesus said this is what we should be like with our prayer. Again, if I’m honest, this is a big challenge for me.

Challenge: is there something that you have been struggling with? Make that choice to persevere. Share the challenge with someone else, to see if they can help you, but also to ask them to pray for you.

Prayer: father God, we thank you that you do not leave us, even when we are struggling. We also thank you that you do not move obstacles out of our way, but help us to get over them. Help us to have the courage to face our challenges, and to seek help when we’re stuck. Amen.

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