He who can not endure the bad will not live to see the good. – Jewish Proverb
What does that mean?
This is a bit of practical wisdom, from a people who have known the bad times. To me, this quote is about having the toughness to survive, because life isn’t always kind.
It seems to me that if you give up easily, you will get stopped before you get to the end, before you get to the good part. Has that ever happened to you, where you gave up?
While the quote seems to be focused on life and surviving the tough times, I believe it also applies to the little things, like projects and other small events.
If you can’t handle the work, how will you get a paycheck? If you can’t stand the heat, how will you cook a meal? There are countless examples one could give, but I think you have the idea.
Why is staying strong until the end important?
How often have you seen a sports team which was behind just give up? That is the opposite of staying strong until the end, right? And how many of the best sporting events you’ve ever seen have ended with some of the craziest, incredible, come-from-behind, last-minute victories? What if that team had not stayed strong and kept after it? Could they have come back? Doubtful.
And how many times in your life have you seen someone give up just before they reached their goal? They had victory within their grasp, and they just quit trying? The tough times became too much for them to endure, and they decided they’d had enough, despite how close they were to attaining what it was they desired.
By staying strong until the end, we can persevere and see the good times which are part of completing a task. Yes, sometimes the reward is not as great as you might want, like shoveling the driveway so that you can take the garbage out. But it is still a necessary thing to do, and there is some satisfaction in a job well done, right?
To me, staying strong until the end is more than just a saying, it is a way of life. I imagine we have all had tough times. Times when we welcomed the light at the end of the tunnel, even if it was an oncoming train. Yet, by staying the course, by keeping our focus and remaining strong, we managed to get through it. And we got to see the good which came after.
Where can I apply this in my life?
The application of stick-to-it-ivness to our lives seems fairly universal. For those who are anything like me, there are plenty of examples of half-finished projects around the house to remind us that things must be done. True, not all are fun. Not all are pleasant. But to see the good, one must endure the other parts of life.
Today I made progress on insulating some outdoor plumbing. There had been a cold snap two years ago which damaged some brass valves and fittings, and left quite a mess. I repaired the damage and wrapped them in old sweatshirts and socks.
That was ugly, but necessary, at least in the short term. However, as we enter the second winter after the wrapping, it really can’t be called a short-term solution anymore. I would have completed it, but I underestimated how much weatherproof tape I would need.
That’s the bad, living with clothing as insulation, and doing the work to properly insulate the pipes. What is the good? Knowing the job is done, done properly, and that the pipes will be protected to well below the coldest expected temperatures in these parts.
Take a moment to consider what in your life might qualify as “the bad” and which you also have decided not to endure. In short, what have you started and then given up on completing? Take a moment to catalog a few of these things. Now consider why you gave up. Was it too much? Did the end not seem anywhere near? Was it no longer worth it?
Are any of those reasons still valid? Is there anything you wish to revisit now? What would you do differently? What could you do more easily? What could you get help doing? Are there any results you now value more than you did when you decided to stop? The answers may not change your decision. But then, they might.
On a larger scale, the tough times don’t last. Neither do the good times. Each take their turn. But if you give up in the bad part of the cycle, how will you ever get to see the next wave of good? That is the heart of the quote, and if you take it to heart, you just might surprise yourself.
Stay strong. You are stronger than you think. Just remember the times you thought you couldn’t, but didn’t quit, and surprised yourself. Yeah, you’re that good. Keep it up.