per-se-ver-ance [pur-suh-veer-uh ns]
–noun 1. steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., esp. in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.
Often times after one my presentations students will come up to me and want to ask me a question. What’s interesting is that the majority of the time it’s never a question that they want to ask. Instead, they just want to share their story and have someone truly listen. No judgment, no advice, just someone to hear their story with an open mind and heart. Afterwards they always ask me to share their story with others in the hope that it will help and inspire someone else.
The stories that I have heard over the past twenty years from teenagers and adults have had a profound impact on my life. When I share those stories they remind all of us about so many life lessons. One of the biggest being – perseverance. Here is an example.
I met Christopher R., a senior at a high school that I was speaking at last week in Pennsylvania. He grew up in a dysfunctional family, was abused until the age of twelve, had to move, and missed 50+ days of school in the 6th grade. He was placed in foster care where, even there, they did not provide clothing or other needs like hygiene products. After seeing so many other kids in the foster home go to new homes before he did, he grew very frustrated, but kept his positive attitude.
After five and a half years of foster care, he moved back to his mother’s house, where after 4 months, he had to move out because of difficulties with his mom. For the past year, his senior year, he has been living with a roommate in a house just outside of town, paying his own rent and expenses. Christopher is doing all of this while going to school and taking part in his church ministry. He will be graduating from high school with the most college credits than anyone else in his school.
He has recently signed an eight year contract with the Navy to be a nuclear engineer. I asked him what advice he would give to others and he answered, “To never let your past define your future, have faith, and persevere.”