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Perseverance is not Patience

It was Family Weekend at our daughter’s therapeutic boarding school. Thanks to the pandemic, the event had to be virtual…again. We have yet to have a “real” Family Weekend, which typically consists, I hear, of outdoor activities, quiet time with your daughter and getting to know other parents. I feel like I am missing out on the “getting to know other parents” thing because supporting each other through shared experiences seems invaluable.

For each of the three “virtual” Family Weekends we have attended, the parents “join” the Thursday night youth group meeting held at a local church specifically for the students of the school. The youth pastor is pretty phenomenal and an incredible resource for these girls.

This week he was teaching from 2 Peter, specifically 1:5-7:

“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.”

When he got to the word “perseverance”, he told the girls as an aside that “perseverance is the same thing as patience.”

I beg to differ! I don’t believe they mean the same thing at all. The difference was not overly germane to the message he was sharing, but it nagged at me all week.

Patience is passive. You step back and allow things to run their course. You may be anxious about what is happening next, but you accept with faith that “next” is indeed coming and that it will be revealed at the right time. Patience is far from easy and downright challenging for most of us who are accustomed to being instantly gratified. But it is not perseverance.

Perseverance requires more of you. Patience may be necessary in order to persevere, but more is needed. When you persevere, you actively confront each obstacle placed in your path. You resist the ongoing temptation to be discouraged by those obstacles and accept them as an opportunity – perhaps even a gift. We actively work at persevering.

This week was a study in perseverance at our house. You may have read about our experience with Winter Storm Uri (, from which we are not yet recovered. Our master suite has been torn up for weeks, awaiting tile repairs, new sheetrock, and new carpet. This week everything was supposed to be completed – I was going to get to sleep in my own bed again!!!!

The obstacles came in two waves, with an undercurrent of language barriers. [Here’s a Public Service Announcement – Learn Spanish.]

The first obstacle was not enough tile to do the needed repairs, with additional tile being unavailable.

Second obstacle was a mismeasurement of the room resulting in a shortage of carpet, which had been specially ordered.

These two waves came crashing down within 20 minutes of each other. The poor workmen who had to tell me of these obstacles in broken English were petrified that I was going to cry, yell or both. I really, really needed this work concluded because our daughter was coming home for a visit and this chaos needed to be behind us. And I wanted to sleep in my bed.

The short version of this story is that we figured it out. Yes, I had to be patient, but that was only part of what was required. We had to problem solve each obstacle by assessing our options and making trade-offs. The work is not yet completed, but we have a plan and I have hope. And…I like the solution to the tile dilemma even better than the original plan.

So an obstacle can be turned into a gift, and perseverance is not the same as patience (with all due respect to Pastor Travis).

And what a gift we have been given through our daughter’s journey. She is negotiating the last few construction zones on her road to health, safety and happiness…and home. Her journey is one she will be on the remainder of her days on this earth, but she has done the hard work to address her obstacles. She has not passively sat by, checking off the boxes of what she thinks everyone wants to hear, patiently waiting out her time in therapy. She has fought hard for her future and she has persevered.

I sincerely hope and pray that someone out there has benefitted from hearing of our journey. Perhaps a parent has gained a measure of hope for their child. Perhaps a business leader has heard a useful nugget or two. Perhaps you have simply been encouraged or smiled a little. I thank you for following along with us and humbly ask that you share our story with those who may also benefit. (

If it would be helpful to know the resources our family has used to seek help and healing:

The Envoy Group ( assists families, at no charge, in finding the right wilderness program, therapeutic boarding school or residential treatment center.

StarGuides ( helps both boys and girls break dangerous addictions through therapeutic wilderness experiences in the beautiful Utah desert.

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