handful of sand, gift of grit, grit and sandpaper, perseverance and discipline, tenacity

The Gift of Grit

If I possess a hundred gifts and talents, but lack the discipline and determination to put them to work, of what good are they? All our graciously bestowed gifts can’t benefit anyone—even ourselves—without the gift of grit to wisely persevere in using them.

“Grit,” according to my dictionary, has several intriguing definitions. Aside from its obvious concrete meaning of “gravel or sand,” it is an abstract noun indicating “determination, perseverance, bravery, tenacity, fortitude, and courage.” It’s also an active verb that means to “clench, grind, tighten, or scrape,” among other nuances of meaning.

After the Apostle Paul urged Timothy to “…kindle afresh the gift of God,” he also reminded him of the secret source of strength, “for God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline” (2 Tim. 1:6-7).  

While I can enjoy my gifts, even have fun with them, it takes determination to use them to the fullest. For a writer, this means the daily practice of “butt-in-chair” perseverance. For you, it may mean some other type of regular discipline. But whatever we do, exercising our gifts requires exertion that’s by no means easy. We need God’s power and grace to fuel this gritty kind of fortitude.

Droplet Gift #13 – I will apply myself to use my gifts with teeth-gritting tenacity.

Let’s think further about the uses of this gift of grit:

The Pearl Process: Time

I know you know this, but I’ll remind us again: Priceless pearls start out life as an irritating grain of gritty sand—a thorn in the oyster’s flesh, so to speak. Let’s never underestimate what the bitter and hurtful events of life can accomplish.

But it is a process, and sometimes a long one. It will take grit—and lots of it—to work and wait and work some more in order to grow from grit to glory. Very few worthwhile achievements appear overnight, without pain or strain.

Keep going. Stick with it. Grit is what makes you faithful when you’ve lost faith—or interest or joy.

“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” –Jim Rohn

Sandpaper Scale: Toughness

Over the years, I’ve learned some woodworking terms from my husband and carpenter dad. As a measure of the coarseness of sandpaper, grit can range from fine as Florida beach sand to tough as a Maine gravel pit.

However, on the bottom line, it accomplishes the job it’s designed for. It rubs the rough surfaces and sharp edges to the exact silkiness the master desires. But he (or she) has to apply plenty of elbow grease to the task.

And again, that can mean ongoing effort—even slivers and blisters. How it grates, scrapes, and grinds on me to admit that the negative circumstances of life may lead me to the most positive outcomes.

Hard to imagine grit as a gift when you’re sweating and bleeding over a project, isn’t it?  

Spice Rack: Texture

Texture is variation in the feel of a surface or material. You might say it’s the spice of the art world. What a marvelous gift grit is! How dull and boring our lives would feel if every day repeated the same routine as the one before or we merely copied each other’s talents.

As in cooking, we may all start out with the same ingredients and come up with a unique dish. Or maybe not. But whatever our potential, grit empowers us to develop new skills and incorporate new ideas.  

Reflecting back to the pearl analogy, a genuine pearl has grit as well as a glow (as Captain Jerez mentions in Anchor at Alcázar Reef). A satin-smooth texture may even betray a lack of authenticity. Flaws teach us and keep us out the rut of perfectionism.

A Non-Slip Surface: Teeth

This kind of grit grips. It grabs on and hangs on for all you’ve got. It’s the teeth-clenching persistence that holds on tight and keeps at it. Grit is a gift that won’t give up.

So often, we quench and squelch our gifts through many shades of fear. Obstacles. Apathy. Weariness. Timidity. Through God’s power and love, let’s pile on the fuel of courage and discipline. We have to feed the fire with blood, sweat, toil and tears…or the gift may decay to a hollow stick.

Press on! Calvin Coolidge said, “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent…”  

While I wouldn’t call them omnipotent, without the grace of faithful prayer and hard work, we can never take full advantage of even the best of gifts. Some of us need to get out of our chairs. Others need to glue ourselves in them.

Lord, don’t take me home…until I learn to apply grit to my gifts.

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