March 10, 2015

{Thoughts on Life: Is Being Stubborn Always a Bad Thing}

Websters defines stubborn as:

1a: unreasonably or perversely unyielding; justifiably unyielding

1b: suggestive or typical of strong stubborn nature

2 : performed or carried on in an unyielding, obstinate or persistent manner

3: difficult to handle, manage or treat

4: lasting

The synonyms listed include: adamant, adamantine,(?) bullheaded, dogged, hard, hardened, hardheaded, hard-nosed, headstrong, immovable, implacable, inconvincible, inflexible, intransigent, (?) mulish, obdurate,(?) opinionated, ossified, (?) pat, pertinacious, (?) perverse, pigheaded, self-opinionated, self-willed, stiff-necked, obstinate, unbending, uncompromising, unrelenting, unyielding, willful.

Of the words I do recoginze from that list, none sound very positive. Coming from someone who's been called stubborn her whole life, I'd like to try and find the silver lining. :) I feel like there's another word out there that describes me, but I can't quite put my finger on it...

Now I KNOW for a fact that I can be all the ways listed above. I actually feel it taking over me when it happens. You know how there is a term "green with envy"? Well whichever color stubborn is, at certain times I can feel myself turning that color slowly in situations where I feel like I have to stand my ground or give in. It's hard to explain, but I know when it's happening, and now that I'm an adult, and making a conscious effort toward molding my character after that of Christ, I'm much better at fighting that feeling when it's not justified (which it rarely was/is...).

But I've also been called "stubborn" in a few other, more positive situations, such as when I lost my weight (35lbs), and going through natural labor & delivery. It's these situations that make me think there must be a more positive way to define stubbornness, unless it's just another word entirely that I should use instead. Any ideas?

I ask all this because I was reading a devotion from "Jesus Calling" (written by Sarah Young) that said,
"When you walk through a day in trusting dependence on Me, My aching heart is soothed. Gently bring your attention back to Me whenever it wanders away. I look for persistence -- rather than perfection -- in your walk with me." 
 It's the word persistence that really made me wonder. Webster defines it as:
"the quality that allows someone to continue doing something or trying to do something even though it is difficult or opposed by other people"

I feel like when I look back through my Christian walk, there is an obvious lack of persistence. Instead there are periods where I found myself being very wishy-washy and apathetic. Which makes me wonder, what is keeping me from using my "stubbornness" as a way to fight off the apathy?

Continuing on my word study, I realized that one of the synonyms of Persistence is Endurance, which Webster defines as: (last word definition for this post, I promise!)
"the ability to withstand hardship or adversity; especially: the ability to sustain a prolonged stressful effort or activity"

Taking my word search from the dictionary to the Bible, I found some neat passages that reference endurance, and the importance of having it as a Christian:

Luke 21:10-19
"Then he said to them, 'Nation against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and priosns, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand on how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you will be put to death. You will be hated by all for my name's sake. But not even a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives."

Romans 5:1-5
"Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into his grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."

Colossians 1: 9-14
"And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worth of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." 

2 Timothy 2:1-13
"You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure with him, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he will also deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful--for he cannot deny himself."

What I am starting to understand from these scriptures is that determination and endurance are right response to the sacrifice that Christ paid for us. Where in contrast, stubbornness is a defiant attitude in response to someone's words/actions... That being said, I think my goal, and my main focus should be to cling to an idea of determination and endurance in living a righteous life. When it comes to Jesus and his will for my life, stubbornness is never going to be an asset. Although, if and when I get to a place where I am more aware of the enemy's attacks, I can use my stubbornness to fight off a wrong response, but that only works well when I am covering myself in the truth, and fighting to stay observant about when I am tempted to think/act/speak in a way that is opposite the Lord's will.