By Jessica Connor
Lonely. Lost. Broken. Crushed by the struggles of the world.
All too well, Christian sisters Ann Kovan and Jean Burden know what many women are feeling as they journey through life.
“It’s so easy to feel overtaken by Satan, by stuff,” Burden said. “Our paths are not as difficult as some, but we’ve been there.”
“Struggle is not a matter of if, but a matter of when,” Kovan said. “We realize there is an impression out there that, to be a ‘good Christian,’ you have to have everything all together. But that is just not true.”
To help other women gain comfort, encouragement and wisdom during their journey, Burden and Kovan have created an inspirational, ecumenical website, The Tenacious Life (www.thetenaciouslife.com).
There, women from all walks of life can find uplifting and peaceful messages designed to help them gain strength and spirituality while they overcome obstacles.
Burden and Kovan bring two different perspectives to their ministry. Burden, a member of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship who grew up a self-described “Sunday school kid,” and Kovan, a United Methodist, met in January 2008 on a Walk to Emmaus. Both were on a service team – Kovan as a small group leader, and Burden doing music. Then, on a whim, Burden invited Kovan on a women’s weekend, and Kovan went.
“It was an unlikely and inconvenient friendship,” Kovan said.
Both lead very busy lives: Kovan is a working mother and wife with two young children; Burden is a middle school teacher with older children.
But Burden had been praying about finding strong female friendship after she and a friend had parted ways.
“I felt so lonely,” Burden said. “God said, ‘Talk to me first. Get to know me first.’ When I started trusting Him to fill that gap in me, in being obedient, Ann and I met.”
Today, the two are close friends. They see each other once a month but text, e-mail and call each other on cell phones almost daily.
More importantly, they connect through their shared ministry: helping lost and struggling women through The Tenacious Life.
Many times, they say, women flounder when they are not able to receive spiritual and personal encouragement. Some find that encouragement in church, but many need a little extra help to connect and blossom in a fellowship setting.
“I’m not criticizing church, but the church has lost touch in many ways,” Burden said.
“Some feel like we can’t go to church if we don’t have it all together,” Kovan agreed. “Church is where we should be running to, not running away from. But church sometimes seems like a club of people who have it all together.”
While both women embrace their own places of worship – Kovan attends Belin Memorial UMC ˆin Murrells Inlet – they know not all women are able to do so. That encouraging fellowship is what these Christian sisters hope their website can do.
Uplifting snippets course throughout the site: video of the Army’s first blind active-duty officer; a Word for the Day from the Osteens; a place to submit a prayer request; a link to a free online spiritual gifts analysis; music and photography; recommended reading.
Burden and Kovan contribute “inspired writing” to the site when called by God. Burden’s blog features spiritual wisdom on the importance of daily prayer, obeying the Father, feeling lost and more. Kovan’s devotions are inspirational responses to the beauty and chaos of life, with topics like loving others, trusting God, forgiveness and perseverance.
“We can walk with you and give you encouragement from people who have been through a hard journey,” Burden said. “When you’re sad and lonely and not sure where God’s taking you, know that he is, and just hang on.”
“You’re going to be beautiful,” Kovan said. “You are beautiful. That’s God’s promise. And he always keeps his promises.”
Kovan said so many times, women are not honest about their struggles, hiding this from the world and from themselves. Doing so leaves them lonely and isolated.
“Women, especially, have such esteem issues in our society,” she said. “As creative beings, we are all lovely and beautiful. And women need to know they are beautiful.”
Even looking at more “tame” secular magazines like “Good Housekeeping,” Kovan sees so many self-help articles about stress and other plagues, but no mention of God.
The website offers a simple way to conquer earthly struggles like stress and loneliness: God.
“Because the beauty and blessing come on the other side of suffering, it is hard to see past the horizon of our circumstances,” the website reads. “We are here to remind you that glorious blessing is to come, that you will be rendered more beautiful, that your gifts and talents will be revealed and called upon. Dear child, look into the mirror that we hold up to you. See not the pain, but the beauty that is to come if you can hang on and endure and make yours the tenacious life.”
Burden and Kovan hope the site will reach women not only from the coast of South Carolina but across the state and beyond. They reach out to women of all ages, races and situations.
“We are Christian women who love the Lord,” Burden said.
“And we want to be out there with that,” Kovan added.