Thursday, September 1, 2016

True Grit


By Maggie Bartlett

I see those Nike commercials with chiseled athletes, their skin glistening with perfectly placed sweat, leaping over hurdles or crawling through obstacle courses in the pouring rain all for the glory of the win. I picture the North Face ads with burly men carrying ice axes, standing triumphantly atop a craggily peak. Throughout the Rio Olympics, I watched as men and women shed tears of pride, relief and exhaustion while their national anthem played and medals of victory hung around their neck. I’m inspired, awed and touched.

But, most days, I am just trying to get to work on time. Ideally with my hair combed and blouse on right side out.

It’s highly unlikely that I will be rewarded for my efforts. No one is ever waiting for me at the door with a trophy or even a high five. The perseverance of everyday life seems to go unnoticed, not stirring enough to be documented.

Yet, in Hebrews 12:1, we are asked to endure, to persevere: “Let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” But how do we find the strength or energy or time to persevere in daily life? When you’re drowning in a long list of to do’s or facing a scary diagnosis or weary from loneliness? How do you continue to run the race when you can barely get out of bed in the morning?

My dad passed away unexpectedly two months before our wedding. In that time, it didn’t feel possible to do anything but keep moving forward, my eyes focused on the celebration to come, even through tears streaming down my face. 

When the presents were unwrapped and our honeymoon tans were fading, I collapsed. In the quiet, I wept. I mourned. I grieved. I understood the beauty of our union and our commitment to one another and I also saw for the first time, with tired eyes, the devastating truth that my dad wasn’t coming back. It was all I could do to get out of bed every morning to show up for my own life. I was exhausted. My soul was weary from running a spiritual marathon, from running through storms and sunshine, from carrying a bucket of tears and a bucket of balloons, never knowing if I could grip both at the same time. 

I look back and wonder how we all made it—my family, my husband, me. How did we stand up every single day, how did we smile, how did we manage insignificant things like running errands and making dinner, how did we celebrate when our hearts were ragged and absolutely torn between elation and anguish? Well, we started with the small things. We brushed our teeth, we changed out of our pajamas, we went to lunch with friends even when it was the last thing in the world we wanted to do. We persevered. We endured. That is human resilience, true grit. That is the strength of the Lord intervening in a mysterious and sacred way. And that may not be rewarded or acknowledged here on earth, but that kind of courage will merit us a different kind of crown in heaven.

You may not feel very perseverant. You may not feel very powerful. But your story has its own moments of enduring in sorrow and joy; it’s just harder to see. We don’t recognize our own tenacity sometimes. We don’t see the bravery it requires to simply wake up and say yes to whatever the day may hold, be it triumphant or tedious. We have no idea how courageous we are.




Each day, without knowing it, we’re saying, “We see you Satan and your evil ways; we see you Jesus and your majesty. We acknowledge this day will hold both suffering and beauty, as this is the way of this life. And we’re not hiding from it.”



Maggie Bartlett is a Colorado native, living in Denver with her husband. She works in corporate marketing and loves to write, climb mountains and explore in her free time.



10 comments:

  1. Such sweet words Maggie - you're so strong and your Daddy is SO proud of you!!

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. Made me tear up. I hope y'all are doing well!

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  2. Beautiful words from a beautiful lady!! I think of you often Maggie

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    1. Thanks Meghan! I hope you and your family are well!

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  3. Maggie - my daddy died before I met my husband. I can't imagine just before the wedding. I haven't seen your parents in many years. The last time I believe you were a new born. I do remember when your grandfather passed away. I was pretty young. But what I am certain of is Betty stayed true to her love for Frank. She remained faithful in her love of the Lord and she stayed strong! Your mom will do the same. And all of this to say each of us were the apple of our daddy's eye. That I can say in 100% confidence. Your faith and your talent - certainly as a writer - are gold medal standard! He is very proud of you and will wrap you in his loving arms even from heaven! So cry sweet lady!! And then live. Live and love life and your husband and your self. It's been 18 years since my daddy died. And I still cry from time to time. But I live so he and my mama will be proud. Love, hugs and blessings of happiness and health to you and your husband!!

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    1. Thank you for sharing that. It meant so much. I hope you are well and appreciate your wisdom and kind words!

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    1. Thanks Casey. Hope you and the family are doing well and a belated congrats to Chapin!!

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  5. You are so right! God is Amazing, and through Him we can at be amazing too. I shudder to think of those who try to endure without him. This makes me think of Worn by Tenth Avenue North. Sometimes we just have to breathe as he does the rest. So proud of you and Travis. Speaking from personal experience, marriages birthed in this fire will be blessed and will be stronger. We love you both and pray God's richest blessings on your future. jerry and donna

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing. Those words are water for my soul. Hope you all are well and hope to see you soon!

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