Recently I created a short video for We Are Brave Together. The prompt was to share a piece of helpful advice for moms with children diagnosed with a disability. It was easy to talk about the two things that have helped me the most on my journey. I am talking about grit and grace. These two principles are critical in every area of my life. My marriage, personal goals, health, and raising children have all benefited from applying grit and grace liberally.
When you tell someone that grit and grace are critical, it can seem abstract or vague. What does that even mean? How do you explain it in a 60-second video? The answer is, not well. I gave an abbreviated application of these words. Today I want to explore these concepts further. I guess a good place to start is a simple definition of each term:
Grit: Courage and determination despite the difficulty of the situation.
Navigating through obstacles with determination and perseverance is grit.
Grace: Approval or kindness shown. In Christianity, it is explained as showing kindness and favor that is undeserved (as in God’s blessings we do not deserve).
We can offer grace to others even if they may not deserve it. I am grateful for the grace others show me and I try to do the same. Life flows better with grace.
You may not know which one will fit the situation. I think it is best to have both available and ready to apply. This week I was making doctor’s appointments. I have been having some health issues and my primary doctor ordered exams. I called to set up the appointments and the receptionist told me that the earliest appointments were in March. I was not happy to hear that. My uncensored response was, “I could die of a heart attack before then.” Now, I do not think that is going to happen. Honesty, I was not proud of my response. Her response did not temper the conversation. She said, “that is what the emergency room is for.” Really? I thought preventative screening and exams were to prevent an emergency.
I was not happy. I had two choices. 1. I could lose it and respond with anger (I really wanted to do this). 2. I could let it go and give her grace and let her response go. I chose the latter. Maybe she was having a bad day. I proceeded to be kind and request an earlier date if possible. We began to have a conversation. I was no longer the rude patient. Alice was no longer the flippant receptionist. As I softened my tone, she softened hers. We were able to get one exam done next week. The second exam is scheduled for March and I am on a call-back list for any cancellations. Waiting patiently to get these exams done, calling to check for cancellations (not waiting for a call from Alice), and pushing for a faster appointment will require a little grit.
Most things require a bit of both grit and grace. Here are a few examples:
- Slaying the day at work or home after a sleepless night caring for your loved one.
- Forgiving your son for not moving the car on street sweeping and paying the ticket with gratitude. Thankfully, you have the money to pay the bill. (Recalling the days when you didn’t.)
- Spending the day cleaning up repeated messes of bodily fluids (if you know, you know) and then having a Zoom call with your client in the evening.
- Spending hours on the phone to get appointments made or services covered that your loved one is entitled to, but the system is not set up to make it easy.
- Extending grace to family or friends that do not offer support. Accept that they may not know how to support so they simply retreat.
- Give yourself grace when you lose your patience with your loved one. This is a big one. We are not always going to show up as our best selves. We all have days and our job is tough. Give yourself grace. Apologize to your loved one. Move forward.
- Caregiving day after day. Showing up when you are tired, moody, frustrated, lonely, and any other emotion. The going is tough and you keep going. You don’t quit. That is grit.
- When we advocate for our loved ones and look for ways to improve the world for them and others that follow. (You are gonna need some grit and also grace!)
- Having grace when people say something that is offensive or rude because they just do not know any better. Finding ways to educate others takes grit.
- Grace with your loved one that is testing your patience, your energy, your sleep. You are not always going to love how they show up, and that is okay. (This one is on here twice because it deserves repeating.)
I believe grace and grit work well together. When the going gets tough, add some grace. The grace will help you muster the grit you need to persevere. I know I can get through even my toughest days. How do I know? I have all the evidence in getting through every challenge I have faced. Grit is the courage to keep going no matter what. Grace gets me there from a place of gratitude. I will arrive much happier by activating grace than if I used only grit. I can achieve a task with grit alone but I may arrive bitchy, unforgiving, resentful. If I utilize only grace, it will impede progress and growth.
As you do this thing called life, I encourage you to practice using grit and grace every chance you get. The ride will be smoother and more productive.