Here’s my life-long problem: I find it easy to start something … But I’m terrible at following through with it.
When I was still in primary school, “還珠格格” [My Fair Princess] was ridiculously popular. It was a hit drama series.
Anyway, when I saw one of the main actresses gracefully playing the guzheng in an episode – it blew my mind.
Awestruck, it wasn’t long before I found myself excitedly signing up for the school’s guzheng ensemble.
But my excitement tapered off really quickly. The reality of the difficult and tedious classes proved far from my expectations.
I started coming up with all sorts of excuses to skip practice every Wednesday – a lukewarm approach to the instrument that persisted for a few years.
I still had the same attitude when I attended university. Take my Final Year Project for example: I was initially enthusiastic about my thesis because I chose to write about something close to my heart – food!
But again, my excitement waned when I began churning out the analysis reports – burning weekend after weekend on the campus grounds.
Grit is a marathon, not a sprint.
Dreams are always magnificent in conception. Turning them into reality, however, is not nearly as awesome.
In the nitty and gritty, there will inevitably be unforeseen problems that arise. The process may also take you longer than expected.
For the fickle-minded, it’s easy to grow sick of your current idea – tempted to hop to the next big dream.
I have the end in mind but I’m really not tenacious enough to see it through. I want the end product, not the process.
But what God has been teaching me is this: It’s in the process – in the discomfort – that we learn and grow.
I’ve been writing for Thir.st for a year now, and it hasn’t always been easy. I often receive feedback on how I can improve my writing, and it never really feels good to hear it.
It’s for my own good, but it also stings when I’m reminded I’m not yet where I hope to be. God help me to be teachable.
It can be easy to feel demoralised in times like this, but we always have these two choices when things get tough:
(1) Say, “This isn’t for me”, and give up
(2) Push through difficulties, learn from failures – reach the end
If you’re anything like me, then we really need to pray: God, give us discernment to know when we should walk away. And give us strength when we must carry on. Teach us to work in a spirit of excellence – for your glory.
In a nation that’s so well-off – in a culture of instant gratification – how great is our need for grit. I think it’s something many of us in the younger generation need to learn.
Grit is a quality championed in the Bible – only it’s called “perseverance” there.
In life, we are frequently discouraged by setbacks and difficulties, but growth comes about from pushing through pain and suffering (Romans 5:3-5, James 1:2-4, 1 Peter 1:6-7).
Think of your present difficulty as an opportunity to level up. You need to work against the gravity – that natural tendency to revert you to mediocrity – and push yourself into excellence for His glory.
In the video above, psychologist Angela Duckworth says: “Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years. And working really hard and making that future a reality. Grit is a marathon, not a sprint.”
Grit is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s a test of endurance.
Now, to pass that test we need discipline to train – and focus. Do we know what we’re running for? Are our eyes fixed on the prize (Philippians 3:14) that comes with finishing the race?
Knowing why we are doing what we are doing will anchor us. The next time things get difficult – whether you’re taking an examination, or trying to be more disciplined in reading the Bible – ask God for help.
Don’t stop just because the product seems so far away – God wants to be with you in the process!