Grit, Part 1

Five months into 2016, I’ve learned a few things about Grit. And one is this. Grit can be inherited. 

Grit. My One Word for 2016. At the beginning of each year, I prayerfully choose one word to focus on in the coming year. This year, Grit came to the forefront. 

A quick definition of Grit for me is:
G – guts
R – resilience
I – indomitable spirit
T – tenacity

How do I know Grit can be inherited? All I have to do is look at my grandmas and my Mom to realize that I’ve inherited Grit from them.

Grit. My maternal grandmother, Susan Klima Kolody, immigrated from what was then Czechoslovakia when she was 18 years old. Alone. She didn’t speak, read, or write English. She arrived at Ellis Island and eventually made her way to southern Illinois. She married, gave birth to 3 sons, and became a widow. Then she married my Grandpa John, and together they had my mother Helen.

My Mom taught my Grandma Susie to read and write so she could become a U.S. citizen. She died from what was probably stomach cancer at the age of 54. My Mom cared for her during her illness and was only 20 when she died. I never knew her.

Grit. When my paternal grandmother, Stella Johnson Wasson, married my Grandpa David, she moved away from her family in Arkansas and came to southern Illinois. She gave birth to 8 children, including twin daughters who died in infancy. When she was 44 years old, my grandpa died from appendicitis.

Just 3 years later, their son David died in a train accident at age 15. Many say my Grandma Stella was never the same after her son died so tragically. Who would be?

Grit. My mother, Helen Kolody Wasson, cared for both of her parents during her teen and young adult years. After they passed away, she and my Dad married. They were married for 34 years when my Dad lost his battle with cancer and passed away. She was 60 years old.

My Mom's life seemed to lose its meaning after my Dad died. But she never gave up. She lived alone in her childhood home. She faced her fears of loneliness, illness, shyness every day. She was a widow for 15 years before she passed away.

I think you’ll agree with me that these women had Grit. I’m proud to be their daughter and granddaughter. I’m proud of the Grit my grandmothers and Mom deposited in me.
 
Life throws many destruction bombs in our path. But we have the choice whether we will allow them to destruct us. Grit is the ingredient that helps us push through and thrive.

I was surprised to find that the word Grit (as a character trait) is not in the Bible. But the more I study and learn about the Holy Spirit, I think the Holy Spirit is the purveyor of Grit. That inner spiritual strength that keeps us going and growing.

When I feel discouraged, disoriented, distant, and disorganized, I pray for more of the Holy Spirit. And I pray for more Grit. How about you?

“So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light” (Colossians 1:9-12).

My Grandma Susie with my Mom, May 1933, West Frankfort, Illinois

My Grandma Susie with my Mom, May 1933, West Frankfort, Illinois

My Grandma Susie became a U.S. citizen in 1938.

My Grandma Susie became a U.S. citizen in 1938.

My Grandma Stella with my Dad and his sisters Fern and Jamesena, circa 1940, West Frankfort, Illinois

My Grandma Stella with my Dad and his sisters Fern and Jamesena, circa 1940, West Frankfort, Illinois

My Grandma Stella with my sister Barb and me, 1950s. West Frankfort, Illinois

My Grandma Stella with my sister Barb and me, 1950s. West Frankfort, Illinois

My Mom Helen with my sister Barb and me, 1958, West Frankfort, Illinois

My Mom Helen with my sister Barb and me, 1958, West Frankfort, Illinois