Several years ago I found myself going through a very tough time emotionally, physically, financially, and spiritually. My marriage of thirteen years had just ended, I had sold my home, moved into an apartment with my son, and was struggling to find my way forward as a single woman and mom. I remember feeling intense fear and emotional pain like I had never experienced in my life. My family had watched my weight drop and my frequent bouts of crying for far too many days, when finally my brother spoke up, and gave me the best advice I have ever gotten. I apply it often to challenging situations in fitness and in life, and I hope to teach the concept to my son as he matures into young adulthood.
In a moment of frustration, my brother sat me down on the couch in my apartment and told me to imagine myself outside on the coldest of winter nights, knee-deep in snow, miles from the nearest shelter. He said, “There is a home far off in the distance, and you can see the firelight glowing from the windows and the smoke from the chimney. You don’t feel like you can walk even one more step in the freezing cold, but you know you have to in order to get to the warmth. In moments like these, you tighten your coat, grit your teeth, and walk, no matter how hard it is. You have no other choice if you’re going to survive.” He told me, “Right now in your life, things feel bad enough to sit down and cry. But you can’t stay here. You have to get up and walk, and eventually you will get to the place you want to be.”
I took his advice that day and learned the valuable lesson of grit. Grit is defined as indomitable courage, toughness, or resolution. And grit is what it takes to move when you do not feel like moving. To brush your teeth and get dressed for work, when all you want to do is crawl back in bed. To drop to the ground and do ten more burpees after you are completely spent, or run yet another mile when your body is already aching. From his advice that day, spoken harshly but motivated by genuine concern, I have learned to channel the emotions I am feeling and use them as momentum to reach the goal I have in mind, whatever that may be.
By the time we reach adulthood, we realize that not all of life is easy or pleasant. There are many times when we have to set our minds to a task, grit our teeth, and get through the challenging part, no matter how tough it seems. But we also learn that the rewards are well worth the effort. John Ortbert, Christian author and speaker, assures us, “Over time, grit is what separates fruitful lives from aimlessness.”
Instead of lying down in despair, or quitting when forward progress becomes too difficult, we can choose to stay the course and reap the benefits of arriving at our chosen destination by finding the courage and resolve to simply keep moving forward.
Every decision counts.