I admire tenacious people. They’re amazing. They go after what they want with vigor. To quote a college professor of mine, they “suck the marrow out of life.”
I don’t just mean that they want to live exciting lives (is #YOLO still a thing?), but rather that tenacious people are driven by clear goals. Whether it’s getting into college, becoming an actor, or learning how to make the best goulash, tenacious people know what they want, and they go after it.
Of course, tenacity isn’t always enough, and no matter how hard someone works towards a goal, it might not pan out. Even in these cases, however, I think tenacity is amazing because it gives one the opportunity to walk away from unaccomplished goals without second-guessing the attempt.
There is no question in the tenacious person’s mind that he did everything he possibly could.
I often wish I were more tenacious.
Obstacles often stand in my way and can be extremely disappointing or debilitating. When I’m overwhelmed by how difficult something can be, I often think, “Shouldn’t this be easier to get? Maybe it’s not worth wanting.”
I don’t mean to say that I’m a quitter; I don’t give up when the going gets tough… I’m just more likely to give something half the effort when the going get tough.
It’s a way to prepare myself for a failure I see on the horizon. It’s a way I try to process my fear.
For example, here’s what’s gone through my mind when I’ve applied for jobs:
I really want a new job.
If I take these steps, then I should be able to get a new job.
What if I take those steps and I don’t get the job?
What if I screw it all up?
Okay. Let me reevaluate…
Maybe I shouldn’t get too attached to wanting a new job, because it might not work out.
Okay, I’ll take some steps, but half-heartedly.
That way, if I don’t get the job, I won’t have gotten my hopes up.
So much of my lack of tenacity is based in fear. Fear of something not working out in my favor, fear of failing, fear of the unknown. Regardless of the cause, the fear keeps me from wanting something badly enough to commit myself fully to getting it.
This lack of tenacity, unfortunately, often spills over into my relationship with the Lord. And it’s often (I realize how sad this is) because I just don’t trust Him.
At least not fully.
I don’t fully trust that He really loves me or wants what’s best for me. I don’t fully trust that He really will heal my soul or body when I cry out to Him.
I don’t fully trust that He is always with me.
So it’s not that I quit my relationship with Him. But rather, I often pray with double-mindedness, a feigned compunction, or a half-hearted pledge against screwing up again. So I end up devoting myself to the Lord only partly, hoping that He’ll help me out (if He’s up to it), but not fully throwing myself into life on His terms.
This Sunday’s Gospel reading presents us with a blind man, however, who is nothing if not tenacious:
As Jesus drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging; and hearing a multitude going by, he inquired what this meant. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” And he cried, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to Him; and when he came near, he asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me receive my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight and followed Him. (Lk. 18:35-43)
I love this all. Especially the part where the crowd tries to shut him up, but it only causes him to shout out to the Lord even more loudly! This man knows what he wants from Jesus, and he knows that the Lord can do it.
This is why he can’t be silenced.
Elsewhere in the Gospels, the Lord says, “The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force” (Matt. 11:12). This blind man is the perfect example of this violence, this tenacity. Nothing stops him from crying out to the Lord, and even when things try to stop him, he just gets louder.
He doesn’t let the voices of others get in the way of his desire. His desire to obtain healing from the Lord is palpable; his will to obtain it is indomitable.
The blind man ignored the external voices telling him to only halfheartedly reach out to the Lord; yet against my internal voices, I’m often powerless, giving in to the fear of things not working out.
Instead of upping the ante in my prayer life, I fall into a faintheartedness that leads to a despairing kind of inaction. But the blind man encourages me not to give up, to become a violent and tenacious man, one who takes the Kingdom by force.
The Church equips us with the same words of the blind man (“Have mercy on me!”), empowering us to call out to the Lord with all our strength. We come to Confession and admit our blindness. We approach the chalice to receive our sight.
And all the while, we must cry out to the Lord, “Have mercy on me!”
The blind man is tenacious, pursuing his goal of the Lord at all costs; let us also take up the same kind of intensity as we pursue the Lord who desires to heal us.
Roller Coaster: RoniLoren via Compfight cc
Christian is a Young Adult Ministries Coordinator for Y2AM. He is a husband, father, mover, shaker, coffee drinker, sandal wearer, and CrossFitter. Christian has his MA from Azusa Pacific University in Marriage and Family Therapy and is working toward a second MA in Children, Youth, and Family Ministry from Luther Seminary. Christian and his family live in Phoenix, Arizona.