Her first day of gymnastics did not go as planned. She expected to have fun tumbling and make new friends, but instead, my daughter’s first class ended in tears of disappointment. The tumbling part had gone fine, but the making friends had not. In fact, no one had even attempted to talk to her.
On the way home, I gave her examples of how to initiate conversation, and we discussed how to have good friends you have to be a good friend. However, since she had just started the class, I told her we could try another class on a different day or at a different time. If that didn’t work, we could try another gymnastics studio altogether. Or even quit if she wanted. By the time we returned home, she still felt upset, but she also felt reassured by the knowledge that she had options.
When I retold the story to her father that night at dinner, he responded much differently than I had. “You can’t quit already. Push through and persevere. If you like gymnastics, keep at it and the friendships will come. Good relationships just take time,” he advised with tough love.
A wave of regret rose over me as I realized I’d given her the wrong advice. I was tempted to take away the pain and let her walk (or tumble) the easy road. But I’m learning what is easy is not always what is best.
Of course, there are situations when safety is at stake, but this wasn’t one of those instances. Rather, it was an opportunity to build character and develop confidence and resilience in my daughter. She needed to learn to persevere through hard situations.
Goodness, I myself am still learning this lesson in adulthood. Aren’t we tempted to quit when things get hard? Or uncomfortable? We want the easy road. But Jesus never promised us life would be easy. In fact, He promised the opposite. Jesus said in this life we will have trouble but to take heart because He has overcome the world (John 16:33).
This means God doesn’t leave us to fend for ourselves in the tough situations we face. His Holy Spirit is always working to complete the good work He started in us, and He is always there to empower us to persevere.
We also have Jesus, Who is our perfect model for not giving up in the face of difficult circumstances. Despite the suffering and pain of the cross, Jesus persevered on our behalf. And aren’t we grateful He did?
Friend, if you find yourself tumbling in a difficult circumstance today, can I give you some advice? It’s advice I’m borrowing from my husband: “You can’t quit already. Push through and persevere. Keep at it. Friendships will come. Good relationships just take time.” When you do, I'll bet you’ll look back in gratitude and see the growth in your character because
perseverance builds character (Romans 5:4), which is what God is most interested in developing in us.
And my daughter? She took her father's advice and went back to the same gym, on the same day, at the same time, with the same girls—but now, thankfully, with a different result. Each week she falls down and gets back up again. I’m amazed at her athletic perseverance, but I’m even more amazed by her emotional perseverance. Slowly but surely, each class she attends she makes more and more friends. And had she taken my initial advice she would have missed out on it all.
How about you? Is it time you take your Father’s advice too? When He doesn’t change our current circumstance, could it be He is giving us tough love because He wants to develop confidence and resilience in His daughters? I think so. No matter how hard it feels, when we fall down, I pray we get up and try again and trust He has His hand extended to catch us.