What picture comes to mind when you think of the word "grit?" Do you see a sunburnt cowboy in the wild west? You probably imagine someone tough and ready to get their hands dirty. Well, alongside that image, I also think of black coffee. It's bitter in a good way, it gets the job done, and when I make it in a pot at home, I can only describe the texture as gritty. So is that how we should live life, using our "darkness" for motivation while keeping a demeanor of strength? In some ways, yes, but life is more diverse than that. We have a wide range of emotions and capabilities. When we decide we have to seem tough and brush off the world from our cold shoulders, we miss a lot of what we have to offer and receive. We're not wired to have two-dimensional personalities like non-player characters in a video game. Still, we do need grit, no matter who we are, but it calls for exploration to find out what that means.
Grit is about discipline, but it's not about ignoring emotions. It takes grit to work through vulnerabilities. What does that look like in our daily lives? It looks like admitting when we're hurt but not letting that dictate our actions. It looks like working hard even when we don't feel like it, but not staying in destructive environments. The statement "Nothing bothers me." is always a lie. What it really means is, "By numbing my emotions, I'm holding myself back." Grit comes from our willingness to face the raw challenges of life, and how can we do that without emotion?
It takes self-awareness to evaluate when we are handing the reins to our emotions. If we completely let go, we're likely to head down a winding hill for a bumpy ride. That's why we need to turn to God. We can give Him all our emotions and hold nothing back, not even our most jealous, angry, or desperate thoughts. Then He can help us have the energy to choose our actions wisely. That's an opportunity we miss out on when we pretend we just don't care.
The pop-culture version of grit might make us think of physical ability - like savage martial arts skills and a Bowie knife on the hip, am I right? The ability to survive on an abandoned island, or knock out seven guys in two minutes, certainly takes grit. But that's not the kind of grit that most of us need, and it's not the most important kind of grit. Mental discipline can change every area of our lives. To me, mental discipline means applying myself to the truth. There are many things in my life that I know I should do, but it's so much easier in the "modern era" to succumb to mental fatigue. It's not just because we live in a time when there are more distractions and reasons to be lazy, but we are also more inclined to overthink. When we overthink, we become indecisive and settle for the opt-out attitude. Determination requires us to focus and act on what we know. We can find truth in the Bible and ourselves when we stop and consider who we want to be. Do we want to live by how we feel in the moment or build a lifestyle of purpose? It's often the little things that make us strong, not always the big battles.
Have you ever heard of a "born survivor?" I've always found that title strange because we are all born survivors. And usually, when someone gets called that, it is not because they're just surviving, but because they're giving life their all. None of us are born with less of an ability to persevere. We all have different ways we persevere, and we all face different challenges. Perseverance is about our character, not our talent. You could be someone who's sat back your whole life without taking a path, and you can still choose perseverance today. The thing is, steadfast perseverance comes from trust in the future. That doesn't mean you should believe everything will be just fine; it means you can believe that you will get through it and it will be worth it.
We lose perspective when we have a blind dedication to one goal. We need perseverance through faith to continue forward even when our direction changes. Faith leads us when we aren't quite sure what the next step is. When we surrender our actions to God, we don't ignore our responsibility to choose; we give up the insecurity of our control. In our lack of control of the outcome, we can focus on controlling our decisions. The world affects us, and sometimes we react in ways that hurt us, but we decide if we will grow or just exist. There are a lot of good things that can motivate us, like encouragement from friends, our passions, art, or little things we enjoy. Grit is how we do the hard stuff with or without those things. I gain a lot of inspiration from my morning coffee, but though I hate to admit it, I can still face the roughest days without it. And even with it, I can't do my best without grit.
Written Content Coordinator at Sun Valley Community Church. An avid writer since the age of 5, who loves to explore new ideas and places. Inspired by Jesus, books, and travel.