Friday, January 21, 2011

Words, Words, Words about Endurance

Watching the Facebook updates for my friend Mary as she underwent two surgeries in two days at the Cleveland Clinic this week has me thinking about endurance. Mary's fight with colon cancer began last spring. Another friend has been battling cancer of the appendix for almost two years. Another friend had breast cancer a few years ago and is doing well now. A friend's mother battled colon cancer for ten years...ten years she would not have had if she had not endured, not fought, not turned a deaf ear to her doctors' words of hopelessness.


“There is a strength of a quiet endurance as significant of courage as the most daring feats of prowess.” Henry Tuckerman

“Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope." Romans 5:3-4

"One man scorned and covered with scars still strove with his last ounce of courage to reach the unreachable stars; and the world was better for this." Don Quixote

“Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory.” William Barclay

I endured depression. I am enduring the challenges of having a child with autism...endurance which, quite frankly, hasn't felt very hard because, unlike with the depression, I'm not enduring this challenge alone at all. It's not locked in my head but in my heart, which is walking around outside my body in the form of an adorable, sweet boy. God, George, and dozens of doctors, teachers, therapists, family, and friends are right beside Jack--and beside me, too. But I also wonder if my positive attitude toward Jack's diagnosis and the overall ease of this endurance are not the result of the lessons in endurance I had in my youthful battle with depression.

What have you endured that made you stronger? It doesn't necessarily have to be tragic or a life-and-death struggle, either. I have friends now who are enduring deployment of loved ones, adjustments to living in a new place, the looming empty nest, the long grief for loved ones, and the search for career following divorce.

Please share your story of endurance and hope.


  1. Wow! Susan. I am not the writer you are, so I'll make my story as interesting as I can. I divorced at twenty-five after two years in a physically and emotionally abusive marriage. I went back to school and finally got my degree. I did not work as an artist, I worked to support my "art habit". At twenty-nine I opened my heart to accept marriage and family if it were part of God's plan for me. Once I told Him, it took twenty-four hours for a friend to fix me up with a friend of his wife's. We were engaged within two hours of meeting and married a few months later. Our second child was diagnosed with autism three months before the birth of our third. She also has autism. We decided to have surgical sterilization, then felt convicted and had the procedure reversed. We have subsequently had two bright, happy non-autistic girls whose mission in life seems to be drawing their autistic siblings out and forcing them to engage in normal play and in the case of their older brother, forcing him to speak. Two years ago, I had a miscarriage, then another a few months later. Through all of this, plus off and on unemployment for my husband, my faith has been strong and God has given us the grace to handle it all and still find joy. Every struggle seems to make me stronger and make my marriage stronger. I don't always appreciate it at the time and often say that God has more faith in my ability to cope than I do. He continues to test and bless, so I am hopeful that by the time I pass to the next world, I get to go straight to Heaven. Wouldn't that be awesome?

  2. It depends on the day I'm having as to whether I'd describe my experience as being one of endurance or one of suffering...

    When my daughter was 5 and a half weeks old, she and I were admitted to a Mother Baby unit in hospital because I was suffering from post-natal depression. It quickly spiralled into severe PND and we spent 3 months in hospital. Different types of anti-depressants were tried, as well as anti-psychotics to help the effectiveness of the anti-depressants. Plus copious amounts of valium to alleviate the constant anxiety. When the drugs weren't working fast enough (I was suicidal) they tried Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) which is where magnetic impulses are used to stimulate the parts of the brain that aren't functioning they way they need to. And when that didn't work, I had eight treatments of Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) - shock treatment.

    The ECT saved my life, but it also wiped 5 and a half months of memory. So I don't remember from when my daughter was about 3 weeks to 6 months.

    3 and a half years on, I'm still "classified", for want of a better word, as recovering from major depression and we still haven't cracked the right medication combination for me.

    I can't say whether I feel stronger from my experience, only time will tell. I hope so!

    Thanks for sharing your story, Susan. You're very inspirational!

  3. I have depression, too. Now that it is being treated my lows are not as low, for which I am eternally grateful. I still have them, of course, but the hopelessness is gone. I *barely* endured that.

    I just found out on Thursday that once we get our software upgraded at work I might essentially be out of a job. I am ready to panic; this is terrible news. The thing is, nobody knows for sure what exactly will happen or how long it will take, or how it will affect us in the end. So now I have to endure that wait for however long, with possibly BAD news in store for me and my family.

  4. Some mighty examples. I like that you have found strength in doing it not on your own but with God and the rest of the team.
    I feel that I'm not very good at enduring, so have no great story to tell or great lessons learned.
    My sister is bi-polar and I know she gets caught in the intensity of the high or the low and can't see past it to the big picture and how there might be light at the end of the tunnel. But she must have learned a lot because she's still with us 15 years on.
    On another note, with the flood disaster in my home town of Brisbane, I think a lot of people will be learning about endurance as well in the months and years of recovery.


Thanks so much for taking time to comment!