Today, I’m studying the talk Endure and Be Lifted Up, by Russell M. Nelson. He gave this talk in the April 1997 general conference.
Endurance. I don’t know if endurance is something that many of us look forward to. Endurance.
What do you think of when you read the word endurance? I suppose that there are a lot of things that I think of, but one of the first things that comes to mind is running.
First, a quote from President Nelson:
“Whatever your work may be, endure at the beginning, endure through opposing forces along the way, and endure to the end. Any job must be completed before you can enjoy the result for which you are working.” – Russell M. Nelson
I’d like to relate this to running a race.
At the beginning of a race, there is a buzz of excitement in the air. It’s strange to think that so many people would be gathered together – to run. They aren’t getting together to eat a rich meal, to watch a movie, to leisurely swim. They are getting together to push themselves physically and run.
The gun goes off, and the people begin their run.
It only takes a moment for the excitement to dissipate. Not only does the excitement dissipate, but the realization comes – the race has started, time for the blood to get pumping, the lungs to get working, and the legs to start burning. I have found that there is just as much temptation to quit at the beginning of a race than any other time. It takes a moment for your body to acclimate to the pace of the run. Yet we must endure.
You make it through the beginning of the race, and you might even get another surge of energy. And then, there are opposing forces along the way – maybe it’s a windy day. Or maybe there are hills. One Thanksgiving, I ran a race in the sleet. It wasn’t particularly fun.
Yet you must endure.
You must endure to the end for any of the endurance experienced at the beginning and the middle of the race to matter. President Nelson taught:
“Whenever an undertaking is begun, both the energy and the will to endure are essential. The winner of a five-kilometer race is declared at the end of five kilometers, not at one or two. If you board a bus to Boston, you don’t get off at Burlington. If you want to gain an education, you don’t drop out along the way—just as you don’t pay to dine at an elegant restaurant only to walk away after sampling the salad.” – Russell M. Nelson
So – even though the idea of endurance may seem off-putting at times (because it’s hard!) I have to say that I’d rather endure than never cross the finish line or make it to my destination.
Now – the thing about running a race and endurance is this – it doesn’t matter how much endurance you think you can mentally muster in the race if you haven’t been training in advance. If you are have been spending most of your time sitting on a couch, then you won’t be ready for a race. Most people must train for weeks before they are ready to endure.
There are things that we can do to give us power to endure.
Conversion and Commitment
If you want to be able to endure during the race, then you need to cultivate a real commitment to running. “Conversion” usually happens over time.
I remember when I first took up running. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I never came home from a run in a bad mood. Even though it was hard, I always felt great.
One evening, I didn’t have much time for a run. I asked my little brother to watch my oldest two daughters for 25 minutes while I went for a quick run. The weather wasn’t great – it was a windy and cold spring day. But I knew that if I didn’t run then, I wouldn’t have a chance to at all.
So, I went for a run, and I came home just happy.
Within minutes, that nearly changed. “Where are Tiger and Panda?” I asked my brother. He was watching Spongebob Squarepants by himself. The house was eerily quiet. I went upstairs calling out for them when I noticed that the bathroom door was shut – which wasn’t usually the case.
I opened the door to the bathroom – to a cloud and my two daughters frozen like scared deer. Tiger, my oldest was holding a bottle of baby powder with two hands. And they were covered in white.
But that wasn’t the only thing…I also noticed hair. Clumps of hair everywhere. And on the ground – an open pair of scissors. Before the powder party, Tiger managed to cut her hair (giving her a reverse mohawk!) and her sister, Panda’s hair. It was terrible!
All of this destruction – in 25 minutes!!!
Thankfully this happened while I was on a run. I wasn’t particularly happy to see a huge mess to clean and a mystery to solve (what was I going to do with Tiger’s and Panda’s hair??? They looked terrible…It took a few days before I just cut their hair pixie-short and got their ears pierced). Despite these problems, I was in a good mood. All due to running!
These experiences converted me to the goodness of running – which outweighed the sacrifice. And, as my conversion to the sport increased, so did my commitment. Completing a race would be possible thanks to this conversion and commitment.
Likewise, we need to be converted and committed to Christ if we want to endure to the end.
President Nelson taught:
“When we know without a doubt that Jesus is the Christ, we will want to stay with Him. When we are surely converted, the power to endure is ours.” – Russell M. Nelson
Just as running is a sacrifice of time and comfort, the Lord requires sacrifice. And it isn’t until we make the sacrifice that we can understand its value. As we exercise our faith through sacrifice and obedience, we will be blessed. These experiences will then inspire us to stay committed to Christ.
“Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.” – Ether 12:4
When we cultivate our faith in Christ, we are filled with hope. This hope anchors us to the Savior, in whom we have faith. The combination of hope and faith makes us sure and steadfast. We then cultivate charity and do good works and glorify God. As we develop faith, hope, and charity, we become better able to endure. We have perspective. We are blessed and made capable of endurance.
Another way that we can better learn to endure in life, is through prioritization.
Back to the running analogy. If you want to be fit enough to endure a footrace, then you will have to determine your priorities. You will need to prioritize workouts, food, and rest. You can’t cram for the race. Running too much will most likely result in an injury (which will sideline you before you can even begin the race!) Too little running will not prepare you properly, you won’t be able to endure the race without proper training.
Prioritization is a critical part of being able to endure.
President Nelson taught:
“When priorities are proper, the power to endure is increased. And when internalized, those priorities will help keep you from “going overboard.” They will protect you from cheating—in marriage, in the Church, and in life.” – Russell M. Nelson
Prioritization. I hate to admit this, but it is always troubling for me. I don’t like to be tied down – which sometimes results in a lack of prioritization and diligence. Not only that, but I have found if I don’t prioritize and plan, then I will usually end up wasting precious time and effort.
Oh – and one other thing that seems to get in the way of prioritization…social media. I’ve gotten much better, but there have been times when I’ve wasted hours of my day checking various feeds. And for what?! Because of my unwillingness to prioritize, I lost precious time to do the things I needed to do. When I don’t prioritize, I find that I’m moodier and frustrated easily. Endurance – in all aspects of life – becomes more difficult when I feel rushed and unprepared. Prioritization is the solution to this problem.
We Can Do It
We are taught about endurance – not because the Lord wants to scare us or prove to us how powerful He is. We are taught about endurance because it is the only way to finish the race; it is the only way for us to eventually inherit eternal life.
It’s just the way it is.
Though endurance is difficult we can do it. We don’t need to get frustrated or depressed by endurance. We can have gratitude and joy even as we endure.
While running, and I’m feeling tempted to stop, try to look at the view, smile, or turn on some music. We can do similar things in our lives. We can be grateful for our blessings, smile, and turn on some happy music!
And just like running a race, we aren’t alone. There are hundreds, thousands of others, who are buzzing with the same excitement – to do something hard, and finish with a smile and sense of accomplishment.
President Nelson quoted President Hinckley:
“I invite every one of you to stand on your feet and with a song in your heart move forward, living the gospel, loving the Lord, and building the kingdom. Together we shall stay the course and keep the faith.” – Gordon B. Hinckley, as quoted by Russell M. Nelson
I’m grateful for a prophet who understands the need to endure, can teach us how to endure, and has endured much in his life! He is 93 years old! He speaks to us about endurance not only because he logically understands the precepts but because he has lived them! I know that this concept – enduring – is important for us to remember in our lives and relationships.