On Grit….recovery’s secret ingredient

There is such a thing as grit.  True grit.

It has a lot to do with recovery.  You probably have a lot more than you realize.  None of us really appreciate how much grit we have.  It doesnt have a lot to do with how many hard times we have or how hard our hard times are .  It has more to do with how many of our hard times have us.

Life is a series of constant never ending invitations.  Some of them are loud.  Some are quiet.  Some are frequent and insistent.  Some are shy and fragile.  Our life, our daily experience, is tied up in integral and central ways with which invitations we respond to and how we respond.

One of the loudest, most persistent and aggressive invitations is simple:  Quit.  Life is too hard.  It doesnt matter what you do.  Nothing is ever going to work out.  You are never going to be enough, have enough, or know enougb to make life something worth living for, striving for, and treasuring.

All of us have heard this invitation.  Some more than others.  For some of us it seems like the only invitation.  It simply drowns out everything else.  It seems forever loud and forever long and finally it doesnt seem like an invitation, but simply a statement about the way things really are.  In the end we no longer even see we had a choice.

Grit is the response to this invitation.  It is the conviction that survival is worth the effort even when we dont understand why.  It is the knowledge that bad things despite what they say end.  It is the faith that even in the worst of times there is something to be gained, something to be found, something to be learned that enriches life and makes you a stronger, more compassionate, and wiser person.

Try something.  Think back over the last day.  How many invitations to quit in one way or another,  to one degree or another did you receive?  Probably a lot.  And you probably turned down far more than you accepted.  Grit can be such a quiet, almost invisible thing we really miss out on how much we have.  In the echoes of a noisy day sometimes the most important things are those quiet.  Grit is too much a quiet thing.

My wife, Linda, has more grit than anyone I know.  It is not that she has had it harder than anyone.  It is just that what has been hard has never been the most important thing about her.  Even a partial list of the invitations life has given her to quit is daunting:

  • Epileptic since birth.  At one point several years ago a good day was 10-15 grand mal seizures.  Not too many days were good.
  • A childhood of horror and nightmare.
  • A lifetime of anticonvulsants that all have the same side effect.  They rot and destroy the body.
  • Countless, countless experience of discrimination and prejudice that related directly to her epilepsy.
  • Brain surgery that left her with a whole host of disabilities that she never had before the surgery.
  • A lifetime of poverty.
  • Another major surgery to “prevent” cancer that almost killed her.
  • Spinal degeneration.  Spinal fusion.

And that is only a small part of the list.  And again the point is not the list.  Many people have had far worse things to deal with.  The point is what she has done with the list.  She loves God.  She loves her kids.  She loves me (Sometimes I am not sure why).  She is kind to people that most people are not kind to.  She has a gift for letting people know that they have been listened to even when nobody has before.  She laughs and in her laughter few people could be more beautiful.  She has a grit I envy.

Cherish your grit and the grit of those around you.  It is a secret of recovery.  I dont know exactly where it comes from and I dont know fancy psychological terms to explain it with.  I just know it is real.

And I am so very glad.  And tomorrow when things are hard I pray that you will find it easy and at hand and the day will be good and beauty be real.


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