Joan Chittister: The Courage to Try a Second Time

Joan+Chittister2“The problem with life is that it never really gets resolved. What’s more, the same issue that tested our mettle the first time we attempted it leaves us in doubt that we should ever attempt it again. The things that confuse us the first time we deal with them are just as likely to make us wonder about them the second time around as well. Certainty is a chimera. All we know for sure is that what we did last time in dealing with a problem either did or didn’t work. Will the same thing happen again? Who knows?

Faced with something that bested us the last time we met it, the whole thought of dealing with it again can make the heart grow weak. How can we ever dare to think of getting up and going on again? In fact, why even bother to try?

It is doubt that brings us to wrestle with the very foundations upon which our life is built. Can we do this thing? Should we do this thing? Why is this thing even worth trying to do? Why even try to do the impossible—to stretch ourselves beyond the normal, the average, the clearly possible?

And if we try it again and we fail, then what?

The second effort makes or breaks the average person. The second effort either deadens the soul to the rest of life or redefines us to ourselves. The second effort becomes the “I can’t” trap, the point after which we never try again, or it becomes the “I can” truth that lifts us to a new level of courage forever.

The call to live our lives to the pinnacle of truth within us, however impossible it may seem along the way, is a clarion one. We are each here to give our best and give our all in the service of the will of God for us. There is no going back. There is no staying down when we fall down. We bother to get up and try again because we said we would. There is only the answer of Isaiah, “Here I am, Lord. Send me” (Isaiah 6:8).

The very act of throwing ourselves into the wrestling match of the soul makes us a beacon of hope for those who come behind us. There is no such thing as weakness for those who are strong enough to keep on trying. “–Joan Chittister, OSB

Excerpted from The Way of the Cross: The Path to New Life by Joan Chittister (Orbis)

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