Our lives can be measured and weighed with a multitude of scales. In the end, two defining elements are often present: grit and grace. I’ve come to this conclusion after a million days of living, listening, observing, and paying attention to lives around me—of heroes and wisdom figures, young children, the elderly, and people of all genders and ages who are joyful, and who suffer horrors that inflict wounding both visible and invisible. Additionally, after decades of looking into a mirror at my own self together with delving deep into my interior motives and heart thumps, I’m convinced that life is a dance of grit and grace. Meeting regularly with my spiritual director helps my gaze turn from judgment and condemnation to embodied, collaborative love and delight.
Grit is forged deep in the belly of a person, is stronger than resilience, and is located in the very cellular structure of our anatomy. Grit is a pearl; translucent, luminous. Imagine the woman whose skin is etched with lines, and whose eyes glow with bright, welcoming, healing power. Or the man, whose weather worn hands are tender, gentle. Or the child—or person of any age— who is ridiculed, bullied, and chooses not to respond with the same acts that cause harm.
A characteristic of grit is to choose life, even if depression, grief, or debilitating illness is occurring. Grit is not the same as pulling oneself up by one’s own bootstraps, as an adage advises. (Sometimes we don’t have any bootstraps to tug on.) Grit with grace is an interior rotation toward living, continued breath, vision, and purpose. Grit with grace moves beyond self-centered survival, into a dance of life affirming life.
To live with grit is a simple concept, full of unspoken implications. Not a trouble-free proposition, living with grace and grit implies both surrender and fortitude. A deeply spiritual act, living with authentic grit transforms our families, workplace, unjust situations, and the world. Our world is hungry and needs your grit and grace.
Pause to ponder ways that you personally experienced grit during your life’s timeline. Then, turn on your radar to look for innovative examples of grit that demonstrate courage, perseverance, determination, and choosing life in spite of trials and suffering. In addition, seek examples of joy, compassion, art and empathy rising from the quality of grit. The individuals and organizations that best demonstrate grit have insider knowledge and insight born from the personal experience of transformation. What might your observations teach you?
Ponder and examine how grace is operating in your life—grace being tender, undeserved love that arrives from a slightly mysterious source that may be wholly other, have two legs, four legs, be rooted in the earth, bear wings, or even beat with a heartbeat known as you.
A spiritual guide is a trusted companion who accompanies us in the fire when grit rises to find voice and action. A spiritual companion celebrates when we experience the joy and triumph of perseverance wrapped in the grace of surrender and a baring of oneself to ultimate reality and mystery, life.
– Pegge Erkeneff
Reprinted from Listen: A Seeker’s Resource for Spiritual Direction, January 2013, Vol. 7, Issue 1, page 1 (Spiritual Directors International © 2013). Reprinted with permission of Spiritual Directors International. To order copies or a subscription of Listen, call 1-425-455-1565 or go to http://www.sdiworld.org.