Persist without exception

Published 12:10 am Monday, May 27, 2019

By CHANEL BINGHAM / Religion Columnist

I’ll never forget the day I heard three words that would forever change my life.

I had the television going in the background on no particular channel as I was cleaning around the house.

I’m not sure exactly what it was that caught my attention, but I turned off the vacuum, sat on my couch and for the next two hours I was enthralled as I listened to the wisdom of motivational speaker Andy Andrews.

He was giving a lecture on The Seven Decisions or principles that demonstrate how to achieve personal success and reminds us that every single thing we do matters and impacts the world around us.

I can honestly say to this day that I don’t remember the first six decisions; however, the seventh decision has never left me. It was only three little words, but these three words literally changed how I viewed life.

With just three words, my heart and mind shifted, and it was this short statement that became the driving force behind everything I would do from that moment forward: Persist without exception.

It was such a simple statement, but it was so powerful. It opened up a whole world of new possibilities for me, and I began to go beyond just chasing my dreams to actually catching them.

This column has been one of those amazing dreams. I had been blogging for nearly a year and had grown my audience base to about 6,000 readers.

I was thrilled, but God placed an even bigger dream in my heart. As a storyteller at heart, I was overcome with a passion to create a space that would allow others in our community to tell their stories.

The vision was clear. All I had to do was convince the editor of the newspaper to allow a 30-something year old, stay at home mom with no “real” professional writing experience a shot at writing a weekly religion column. Well, if you’re reading this column then you know how it turned out.

By the grace of God and with a lot of persistence, I’ve had the great privilege of spending time with you each week over the last four years through this column. I have met some of the most inspiring and courageous people who bravely exposed the broken pieces of their life in order to point us all in the direction of hope.

From addiction and abuse to mental health challenges and miscarriages, we’ve read time and time again how, if we’re willing, God will take those broken pieces of our lives and turn them into a beautiful masterpiece.

Within the past year, I once again heard a statement that has inevitably changed the course of my life. Oddly enough, the vessel for this life changing statement was an insurance commercial.

I heard the actor say, “The days are long, but the years are short.” I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but I actually teared up. What a profound statement!

As I reflected on those words, I took a mental inventory of my priorities. As a family of six, we’ve been in a very busy season of life over the last few years and, to be honest, there was a time when I wondered if this season of child rearing would ever come to an end.

Now, I can see how fast it really moves. My oldest graduated a couple of years ago and my middle son will begin his senior year in August.

I also have a middle schooler, and the baby of our family isn’t too far behind. I now see that sooner than I would hope, my season of child rearing will be ending and I will enter a new season in my relationships with my children.

With that being said, after much prayer and certainly more than a few shed tears, I have decided to take a sabbatical from my freelance writing.

I hope to spend the summer before my son’s senior year being intentional in the time we spend together. We plan to take a few trips, throw the football in the front yard, enjoy morning swims, and rides across the property on the golf cart.

We’ll fish in the late afternoon and play cards after dinner. I’ll pursue with persistence and without exception the biggest dream God has ever given me as I work to give my best to my most treasured gifts.

While I hope and plan to return to the column in the future, I’ve learned to never assume on God. There have been times when I expected to turn left and he’s guided me to the right.

So, if this should be the last time we meet in this forum, I want to take this opportunity to say thank you.

First, thank you to every single individual who bravely shared your testimony. Your stories have been an inspiration to all of us and serve as a beacon of hope and light.

Thank you to The Clanton Advertiser for taking a chance on my dream and never censoring the voice of the people in our community. You are truly a rare gem among media publications.

And, to you, the reader. Thank you for faithfully meeting me here every week. We’ve shared times of laughter and times of sadness, but we always found encouragement and hope as we read of the miracles of God unfolding in the lives of those right here in our own community.

I’m also so grateful to my mom who read every single one of my articles each week before I sent them in for publication. She cried, laughed and prayed over these stories, and I would not be the storyteller I am today if it were not for her encouragement and belief in me.

Although we will not be meeting here each week as we’ve become accustomed, I encourage each of you to persist in the telling of your story. Whether to a crowd of 1,000 or just to an audience of one, never grow weary in pointing others toward hope.

Never be ashamed to boldly bear the scars of your battles. For it is in the sharing of our brokenness and in the surrendering of our pain to Jesus that: Captives can be set free! (Luke 4:18), Peace can reign! (Colossians 3:15), Fear is replaced with strength! (Isaiah 41:10), Hope abounds! (Jeremiah 29:11), Christ meets our every need (Philippians 4:19), Our hurts are healed! (Psalm 147:3), and our Joy is complete! (John 15:11).

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” — Ephesians 2:10