Persevere means to persist in anything undertaken, maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacles, or discouragement; continue steadfastly. Wow, that is a lot to do if we want to persevere! We all have had difficulties, obstacles, or discouragements some time in our lives. Some of these obstacles may be huge, some may be small, but we still need to be strong and persevere.

I spoke with a woman who has had to persevere through a few obstacles in her life. If you are a fan, of the CBS show Survivor, you may have seen her. Her name is Sunday Burquest; she was on Survivor: Millennials vs Gen X. She lives here in Minnesota, and we had an opportunity to talk about her experience on the show, and how it has impacted her life.

Image courtesy of Robert Voets/CBS

Her testimony starts a few years before being a cast member on Survivor. In 2012 Sunday had to face one of the greatest challenges in her life; she was diagnosed with breast cancer. If you would like to read more about her experience with that diagnosis, you can check out her blog titled “April 11”.  She faced and overcame this challenge with the support of her family and friends, and most of all her faith in God.

Sunday and her family are huge fans of the show Survivor, and she had a dream to be on the show. She applied two times and was accepted on her second try. By being on the show, cast members are tested both mentally and physically, all in an atmosphere of pretty primitive living conditions. There are so many hardships these cast members had to go through: the first night spending it in the rain with no way to get warm and dry, then being evacuated because of the severe storm, having wet feet the entire time, sleep deprivation, not knowing what might crawl on you during the night, and living in complete survival mode.

She was the last female member of Gen X and was the 13th person voted off. I think that is pretty impressive. I asked Sunday a few questions about her experience and how it has affected her life. I believe her answers can be a great encouragement for us when we are facing obstacles or difficulties in our lives.

Sunday related how this experience has given her a greater realization that she can get through trials, she has developed a great amount of strength, and has learned to look at things in a positive way.

She would encourage others to:

  1. Look for something positive because no matter how bad it is, there is always something positive in your life.
  2. Look for what you can learn from the situation.
  3. Focus on what you can be grateful for. Instead of putting all your energy and focus in to the negative and how bad it is, make the decision to look for the things that you can be grateful for. When setbacks happen, where is your focus? The more you focus on the problem, the bigger and bigger that it gets.

Image courtesy of Robert Voets/CBS

Image courtesy of Robert Voets/CBS

There were many times during the show that Sunday was forced out of her comfort zone. Not only are the conditions primitive and the challenges are taxing, you are with people you have never met or know anything about. We talked about how we have our circle of friends and family that we are used to being with; they know us, we know them. This is not the case on the show. The cast members are from all different backgrounds, and as a cast member you need to connect and work with each other. I think it is another great lesson we can learn from Sunday’s experience. She has remained friends with the cast members, which is rare for cast members to be so connected. These are people she never would have met except by being on the show. Stepping out of our comfort zone can open us up to new friendships and relationships.


Image courtesy of Kylee Leonetti

We talked about how stepping out to fulfill one dream often provides us with the courage to step out for more dreams. Sunday’s next dream is Inspirational Speaking. I have heard Sunday speak over the past few years; she provides timely and encouraging messages. These messages have included family relations, her battle with breast cancer, and now her experience on Survivor. She encourages others to not give up, using her own life experiences as examples. At the top of her blog, she shares this statement: “Standing. Smiling. Surviving. And talking about it.” This is exactly what she is doing. You can learn more about Sunday or check out some samples of her speaking on her website. If you want a great inspirational speaker, she would be an awesome choice.

I was encouraged by talking with Sunday. I hope each of you can be inspired to persevere in any challenges or obstacles you are facing in your life. What are some things you have learned from persevering through a life challenge?

Survivor Images courtesy of Robert Voets/CBS Broadcasting. These images are the exclusive property of CBS Broadcasting Inc. and may not be archived, leased, sold or distributed in any fashion without consent from CBS.

Other images courtesy of Kylee Leonetti.

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