My dad, the youngest of four boys, was raised on a farm in rural North Dakota in the 1940's. It was subsistence living, and he walked miles to school, often through deep snow, uphill both ways. It's all true...either literally or metaphorically. I take the "uphill both ways" part of his story as a metaphor for the fact that nothing was easy. My dad's father (my grandfather) died when my dad was 10 years-old, and my grandmother moved the family from the farm to be near other relatives, in a small town in rural Minnesota. Life continued to be "uphill both ways" as my grandmother raised all four boys into adulthood. Amazingly, in spite of the trials they faced, everyone persevered. The boys all received educations, had full careers, and were blessed with wonderful families.
Fast-forward to today. My son loves CrossFit and Spartan Races. In their own way, these two activities are about perseverance. This past November, my son ran in a Spartan "Beast" in Virginia, which was a tortureous 12+ miles up and down (again and again) a ski resort. Ski hills, even the easy ones, do not have gradual inclines, and the route included plenty of black diamond terrain. It was brutal...even the veteran, highly fit Spartans had their butts kicked. But, the racers persevered, finished, and enjoyed a sense of accomplishment shared by few others.
I believe perseverance requires "faith" and "will." Faith that there is something worth persevering for, and will to push through the many uncomfortable--even painful--trials that we encounter. The need to persevere is universal. Some of us will need to persevere through more difficulties than others, but no one is immune. Even the most ardent control freaks will agree that their road-maps failed to consider some unpredicted potholes. While it is admittedly a first-world problem, even my photos from my son's Spartan Beast didn't go as planned. My best photo (the one below) was snapped it with a cheap, outdated cell phone. All things considered, with a little post-processing perseverance, it turned out okay. But this pales relative to the problems that many of us are facing today, or that we will face tomorrow.
I pray that when you find yourself in an "uphill both ways" situation, you will find a well of perseverance deeper than the trial at hand. And that others will journey with you, encouraging you with their presence, love, and kindness.
Kristoffer Cox Photography: Artisan Portraits and Conceptual Images