Nevertheless, She Persisted

neverthelessshepersistedAs we continue through Women’s History Month, it’s worth remembering that this year’s theme is: “Nevertheless, she persisted.”

That phrase has its origins in national politics, but it’s spread well beyond that now. I’ve seen it on protest signs, t-shirts, tattoos and even cross-stitch. It’s come to symbolize both the broader struggle of women, historically, and the very specific struggles of women today.

Even as a kid, it was obvious to me that women had to work harder than men, just to achieve anywhere close to professional parity. The joke back then was about Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers.

She did everything he did, only backwards and in high heels.

Now we have stats. Women get paid less than men. Women’s healthcare rights are constantly in danger. And, of course, as we’ve seen horrifically in the past years, women suffer physical and emotional abuse and harassment in the home and the workplace.

And so, in the midst of this bleak reality, the phrase spread like wildfire:

“Nevertheless, she persisted.”

It’d be easy to say this is a modern thing. But this past week, I was meditating on the Biblical story of the woman who was sick for twelve years.

“Nevertheless, she persisted.”

She went to every doctor she could think of.

“Nevertheless, she persisted.”

She spent all her resources.

“Nevertheless, she persisted.”

And one day, Jesus came to town, and she got the crazy idea that if she just touched his clothes, she would be healed. She did touch his clothes. She was healed.

And it would be comforting to just hold our gaze here at the point of the miracle. To muse on the reasons why *she* was healed, and not the apparently dozens of others also crowding around Jesus on that one particular day.

But, to me, that’s not the interesting part of the story. The interesting part of the story is every single day before that.

Every single of one of those 4,380 days.

That’s how many days there are in twelve years.

And, on how many of those days did she feel like giving up? On how many of them would YOU feel hopeless? What if she’d given up on day 4,379?

But she didn’t.

“Nevertheless, she persisted.”

One thing I’m learning over and over is that any good change seems to take time. Always, more time than I want it to.

For example, the first day I started riding my bike again, some six years ago now, I was weighed almost 300 pounds. The next day it hardly felt like I’d done anything good. In fact, everything hurt, and I remembering wondering “How stupid are you to think you should start riding your bike again….”

Eighty-five pounds, and six years later, I don’t feel that way anymore. But there still are many tough days. Days that are too rainy. Too windy. Too tired. Too busy. Too cold.

There are always reasons not to go. The barriers never go away, but nevertheless, I persist. And I’m grateful for the long-haul of it.

I know that when you take a new medicine, it can take weeks to feel the effects.

I know that when you start back to a habit of prayer and meditation, your worries and troubles do not vanish with one 20-minute session.

Anything worth doing…spiritually, physically, professionally…takes time. And most of all, it takes time PLUS persistence.

Saying all of this is not to suggest we shouldn’t push for change. We should.

We shouldn’t tolerate or excuse injustice, toward women or anybody ever for that matter.

But this nameless woman who touches Jesus’ clothes reminds us of a simple and profound truth…

One of the most important spiritual values we can have is persistence.

Whatever it is in your life that you are pursuing, and especially if it starts to feel hopeless, just remember that woman…and keep at it, day after day, week after week, year after year. For 4,380 days, if that’s what it takes. Or longer.

The most important day is not the day we call “the miracle.”

It’s every desperate day that comes before, and the ways you persist, nevertheless.

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He is Senior Pastor of The Woods United Methodist Church in Grand Prairie, Texas. For seventeen years, he was pastor at Northaven UMC in Dallas, Texas. Eric is an avid blogger and published author. Eric is also an award-winning singer-songwriter, who performs throughout Texas and the Southwest. He's won honorable mention in both the Billboard and Great American song contests; and he's been a finalist in the 5th Street Festival and South Florida Folk Festival songwriter competitions. Eric is also a leader of Connections, a unique band comprised of United Methodist clergy and layfolk from throughout North Texas. Connections performs "cover shows" of artists like Dan Fogelberg, Chicago, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and others. Their shows draw crowds of between 300 and 1,000 fans, and they have raised more than $240,000 dollars for worthy charities. Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He's a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named "best judge" by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County. She was re-elected for a third term in 2010. They have the world's best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy.

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