One of my favorite things to do in December is choose my word for the next year. This will be the third year I’ve done it! I’ll be honest, I failed in 2018. My word was joy....and I almost laughed when I typed that, because I was not successful. It’s easy to be joyful when things are going on way, right? That wasn’t quite my 2018!
As I was thinking about 2019, a word just kept coming up: GRIT. I looked up the definition of grit, and simply stated, it’s having courage and resolve, or strength of character. Wow, that sounds fun, and definitely like something I want! But then I saw the alternative definition, and immediately wanted to change my word: “to clench (the teeth), especially in order to keep one's resolve when faced with an unpleasant or painful duty.”
Ummm....that’s a hard pass. Maybe I’ll just ignore this word, because I don’t want to invite unnecessary challenges or trials, and I feel certain that by saying I want to focus on establishing grit in my life, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
So much of my job as a pastor is coaching leaders who are leading and discipling others. How many times have I told someone that they are courageous, capable, strong, and to keep pushing through the hard days to get to what and WHO God has for us and to what He needs from us? Hundreds of times. Yet when it comes to myself, I’m not quite there. Does that make me a hypocrite? Am I listening to my own advice? It’s impossible for pour out something on others if you’re not filled with it yet.
So, 2019, what do you have for me? Because apparently I’m going to have grit. I’m sure you can tell how excited I am about that. Haha.
I like to run. Notice I didn’t say “I’m a runner”....because that still doesn’t seem possible, even though I’ve completed two half-marathons. When I started running, I HATED the treadmill. I could go to the gym and run five or six miles on the track without really getting that winded. But at home, I would get on the treadmill and literally have to stop after just three or four minutes. I convinced myself that it was all mental - I was staring at the numbers on the dashboard so intensely that it was all going to my head and I just couldn’t keep going. So I stuck to the track.
When we moved last summer, we went to pack up the treadmill and as I lifted it up, I noticed for the first time ever that there was a manual incline setting underneath. We had propped the treadmill up on the highest incline and it sat that way for three years! All those times when I thought I just couldn’t keep going and couldn’t reach my goals, I was running straight UPHILL.
Our lives are a lot like that, aren’t they? When we are trying to reach our dreams and every step forward is accompanied by three steps back, everything feels like an uphill battle. But if we can remember that He is running right next to us, and stop pretending like it’s all on us to figure it out, sometimes the path is suddenly less intimidating, and we can keep running our race.
I’m in a season where I know God is expecting grit from me - He’s given me so much, shown me show much grace, and brought me to a place in my life where I’m surrounded by people who cheer me on. I haven’t always been able (or willing) to see and hear those things. I believe that in order for me to discover what He needs and wants from me, I have to fight through some of the yuck and get to a place where I’m open to anything He sends my way.
It’s fascinating to me that sometimes the people who do the unexpected aren’t necessarily the most qualified, but are the ones who were most focused and determined to get there. Simply said, my dreams aren’t going to work unless I work to get there.
By focusing on grit, it will force me to focus not only what I need to do, but also what I need to NOT do, in particular the way I react negatively to things that happen that are out of my control. Having grit will mean talking to God about my frustrations and hurts instead of talking about them in unhealthy ways and bringing others down with me. It will mean that I see every experience as a learning and growing opportunity instead of a set-back.
Showing grit will mean that in the midst of my weaknesses as a wife, mother, pastor, and friend, I will love harder, push more, parent more passionately, minister to others by sharing my weaknesses, and persevere through conflict instead of running away.
What’s your word for 2019? I wish mine wasn’t grit, but that’s what keeps coming up, over and over again. It doesn’t sound easy. It sounds really hard, and sounds like a challenge I’m not up for...which is probably why it’s the perfect word. It’s time to show myself what I’m capable of. I hope someone else will come along for the ride!