Do You Have Grit?
You were made for this
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I can’t wait to finish. I hate this. Will it ever end?
How many times have you found yourself saying this as an athlete? Maybe the season is going terribly, or maybe it’s going fine for the team while your personal performance is lagging. No matter the situation, I feel safe in assuming you’ve said these types of things at one point or another.
Like many other sports, basketball season is a long time. You feel gritty and motivated in October and November, but January is coming. Better yet, it’s bringing its friend, February, the dynamic duo of difficult months for the basketball player that can sometimes feel much like 2020 ushering in its best pal, 2021.
As a younger athlete, I struggled to process my emotions and hardships. Oftentimes I fell victim to my challenges rather than rising to the occasion and fighting. I knew I needed grit and that it was a crucial component to any team’s success, but I also wasn’t being taught how to develop grit either. It was a little like asking me to pull up my bootstraps, but I didn’t have any and wasn’t sure where to find them. And that left me feeling helpless.
My guess is that some of you reading this can relate to being trapped in this mindset of survival instead of warrior mentality. One thing that you may not hear enough, however, is something that I genuinely believe about most college athletes. I believe you actually want grit, and I believe that you really do want to do hard things well.
Here’s the good news: You were made for this.
QUESTION TO CONSIDER
HOW CAN YOU PRACTICE GRIT?
Reality is that you won’t read this and experience a magic that suddenly transforms you into a tough and gritty athlete. However, Scripture commands us in Romans 12:1-2 to “…present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (English Standard Version).
This is simply a small step worth taking that contains a few tools to help you move toward and practice grit. If you want to show up to war (because that’s what this is), let’s talk about some ways to grow in grit.
GOING IT ALONE IS GAME OVER.
The Romans 12:1-2 reference above is preceded by something vital I intentionally left out. We’re commanded to renew our minds and sacrifice ourselves “by the mercies of God.” Ephesians 2 tells us that we were dead in our trespasses and sins. So a dead person can’t pull up their bootstraps, and you absolutely can’t show up to this war without God, in His mercy, equipping you to do so. So have the humility to acknowledge that and the wisdom to not attempt fighting in your own strength.
HARD WORK IS NOT A PUNISHMENT OF SIN.
In relation to Adam and Eve, we often focus on life after the fall. In Genesis 2, it’s important that we not skip over what God intended for Adam’s activity prior to sin entering the world though. “Then the Lord took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15 ESV).
Hard work is not a punishment of sin. In fact, God has intended us to work and do hard things since the beginning of time. So if that’s the case, and you’re in college athletics, you’re in a great position to be a hard worker.
Some days are hard, but there is hope for tomorrow
NO MATTER HOW LONG THE HARDSHIP LASTS, IT WILL NOT OUTLAST GOD’S MERCY AND FAITHFULNESS.
That’s real life. Some days are literally terrible, and you won’t catch me sugar coating that for an instant. Remember that it’s in the darkest of nights that the light shines brightest. I love what the writer of Lamentations says in reflecting on his hardships he experienced: “My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” No matter how long the hardship lasts, it will not be outlasted by God’s mercies, love and faithfulness. Some days are hard, but there is hope for tomorrow.
Here’s a spoiler alert: you aren’t going to have grit every single day, because you aren’t perfect. Some days you’re actually going to fail miserably. Whether or not you’re hearing this from your coach, however, it’s important to learn to show yourself grace. Paul says in Romans 5 that “where sin increased, grace increased all the more.” If you’re a child of God, He has separated your sins and your mistakes as far as the east is from the west. That’s a promise.
David experienced a tremendous amount of difficulty in his life, yet he penned these words in Psalm 30: “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning … You have turned my mourning into dancing … that my glory may sing Your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever!”
Remember this: The bad days are not forever. The hardships are not permanent. Keep fighting for joy in the Lord and returning to His promises. Know that He hasn’t promised us comfort or safety or what many of us may think “happiness” looks like. But the Lord is good. He has promised to be faithful to His children. He loves you. He’s going to provide your needs. And whatever you’re going through, He sees your pain, He knows your hardship, and He hears your cries.
Whatever today looks like, know that there is an ultimate joy coming. Your grit will never come from you, but you can have grit in the power and strength of the Lord. So don’t stop fighting in whatever your “hard thing” is, because I can promise you this: you were made for it.