Well, the Seahawks season is over. Turns out, both throughout the whole season, and in their final game, they dug themselves into too deep of a hole to get out of. They were down 31-0 at halftime. And despite scoring 24 unanswered points in the second half, it was just too much to overcome. They ran out of time and the Panthers are going to the NFC Championship.
That has gotten me thinking about the holes we find ourselves in and how we get out of them and the grit that is involved in digging out of a hole.
Grit is kind of a buzz word at the moment. It is defined as having perseverance and passion. A woman named Angela Lee Duckworth was working at a high powered job and left it to teach 7th grade math in the New York public schools. She found to her surprise that the kids who did the best in her classes were not often the most intelligent kids. But rather the ones who had the most grit. So she left teaching, got her PhD, and is now studying what grit is and whether or not it can even be taught.
One of the interesting things I have seen in listening to her a bit is how often grit is the result of coming out of a hard time—of digging out of a hole. Duckworth has been studying people from all walks of life who have grit. She even spent a day with Pete Carroll [coach of the Hawks] who says grit is one of the main things he looks for in his players.
So can it be taught? I don’t know. I know some people seem to just have it more naturally than others. And I’m not sure you can have it if you never have any struggles. I think of that a lot as a parent. When I’m tempted to step in and rescue my kids—am I cheating them out of developing grit? Very likely I am.
Grit also seems to be an important part of faith. Mostly because when you go through life—you are going to end up in a lot of holes. Death, divorce, crises of faith, doubt, failure, struggles, all of these things are part and parcel with being human. And the promise we cling to when we follow Jesus, is there is no hole where he will not climb in with us and help us claw our way back out.
That is the other thing about grit. Most of the time I think of it as something that is pretty individual, but in reality, I think that we learn grit from each other. From seeing how someone perseveres. From seeing someone find their passion and then relentlessly pursue that passion. From realizing that Jesus is there with you, in the mud and muck, and if you are not alone, then you can pull through because after you get out of the hole—there is brightness ahead.
I have been surprised at how optimistic the sports radio folks have been after this loss—the team too. But maybe somewhere inside they realize that true grit can only come after deep loss. That is why Paul could say he rejoiced in his suffering, because that was how he most deeply knew Christ with and in him.
That is grit. And I pray for more of it in my faith and in my life.