Perseverance is one of those words I was raised to believe in a spiritual sense only applied to being Christian. As I grew older I found along my pagan path that perseverance was for more than Christianity or for spirituality. Being a gay youth that was drawn to other spiritual paths, I soon realized it was a word that I truly should learn to embrace because it would become my suit of armor, the badge of honor that would see me through life.
At age 15 my mother found out I was gay. Her first reaction seemed to be one of acceptance to who I was. That changed very dramatically within a few weeks. I was tricked into entering an Exodus International treatment center. Their methods of converting teens from the ‘homosexual’ life style to that of a ‘normal’ life style were truly torturous and barbaric. There were many times I had wanted to give in, telling them what they wanted to hear for the simple fact of making the horror end. Yet no matter what, I would tell myself no that was not going to happen. To me it was a matter of integrity to hold on to the fact I truly believed that this was an unchangeable part of who I am. I stated every minute of every day that I was gay and would not change because I could not change. Even though the counselors tried to reinforce their belief that me believing in the many gods of the pagan path where the cause of this sinful pride of mine and that turning to Christ would be my salvation, I stayed my course. The entire time I also refused to let go of my belief there was something more than Christianity. I believed and still believe that the only salvation for me was to never waver from my path and what I held dear to my heart. Only years later when working through my past with a therapist did I realize how much courage it had taken to stay the course and to not once let myself loose faith in my beliefs.
So do I understand perseverance? Yes I think I do. Of all the Nine Virtues this is one that I can honestly say I have always lived my life with. It is a virtue that has pulled me from the worse hells that people have to offer.