END OF YEAR: on self-examination and grit.

Early on in the day, i thought of blogging my father’s sermon (yes, he’s a pastor) but I wasn’t decided until I tuned in to Writers’ Project on CitiFM tonight and heard their opening poem. After reading the poem over several times it felt perfect for this time for year and especially perfectly related to how the last few weeks of the year has been for me. I am typing this with so much excitement, i’m surprised at myself, I must admit, I am happy I tuned in and heard that poem. My mind’s made up. So here goes. I listened to my father preach today and I just sat there listening, taking it all in. Now, i’ll share what I put down in my notes.

“The end of every year brings us closer to eternity, and it is needful that at such times we do some self-examination. This self-examination must be done on two levels; 1. On a personal level, and 2. At the level of the church or family, because you belong to one. The best that should have been done was for us to do a daily self-examination, so that the end-of-year reflection becomes a summary of what you did throughout the year. 

The need for this self-examination stems from the fact that one must not trust or believe him/herself too much. Trusting yourself too much in the sense that you feel you can face any temptation without faltering. This kind over-confidence leads to complacency (believing too much in your own success) which then makes you foolhardy (taking stupid and unnecessary risks with foolish boldness). 

When we acknowledge that we need God in order to resist temptation, it is then that we don’t fall. But we do falter, and so we must, at the end of each day, ask ourselves questions in all sincerity. Do not hide anything when you ask yourself these questions;

1. What infirmity have I mastered today? (infirmity here referring to a moral flaw/failing. What failing di you dwell on and became master of, allowing it to be your chief vice?)

2. What passions have I opposed (passions referring to any strongly held emotion that prevents you from serving God wholeheartedly – lust, anger, hatred, gluttony, illicit desires, and to sum it up with my favorite word concupiscence. Evil concupiscence) If you did overcome any, you should ask yourself how you did it, note it and put it to use another time. If there was any you could not overcome, ask for forgiveness and ask for strength and direction to be able to oppose it the next time.

3. What temptations have I resisted today? Some things just creep up on us unaware and if we do not watch our steps, we fall. ask yourself if you gave in to say some provocation and lost your temper, etc.

4. What virtue have I acquired? (What good thing did you learn. What good habit did you pick up to replace the old discarded ones which were leading you to destruction?)

The truth is that our vices will abate themselves if they are brought everyday, to the fore, and dealt with in this manner. And remember to do it in all sincerity. “

READING: Isaiah 9:1-7

The verses 2 – 4 is filled with the hope that one can come out of darkness and into light. And this is for everyone. It was said for both Jew and Gentile. And when you look at Jesus’ genealogy, his bloodline was mixed with both jew and gentile blood and this was to show that he was coming to unite the world. He was to be the light that was promised in these verses. This light signifies a doctrine of liberation. Liberation from the powers of darkness. And so now we also have the power to command the devil to depart from our lives. We have the power to say to sin “no more with you!” To go down on our knees and seek God’s face, asking that he sees us through. By the grace of Jesus, we are able to go before our Lord just as we are. 

We owe it to God to take advantage of this grace by using the power he has given him. Like the hymn says

A charge to keep I have

A God to glorify

A never-dying soul to save

And fit it for the sky.”

Now to the poem I mentioned. Title is ‘On Quitting, by Edgar Albert Guest

 “How much grit do you think you’ve got?

Can you quit a thing that you like a lot?
You may talk of pluck; it’s an easy word,
And where’er you go it is often heard;
But can you tell to a jot or guess
Just how much courage you now possess?

You may stand to trouble and keep your grin,
But have you tackled self-discipline?
Have you ever issued commands to you
To quit the things that you like to do,
And then, when tempted and sorely swayed,
Those rigid orders have you obeyed?

Don’t boast of your grit till you’ve tried it out,
Nor prate to men of your courage stout,
For it’s easy enough to retain a grin
In the face of a fight there’s a chance to win,
But the sort of grit that is good to own
Is the stuff you need when you’re all alone.

How much grit do you think you’ve got?
Can you turn from joys that you like a lot?
Have you ever tested yourself to know
How far with yourself your will can go?
If you want to know if you have grit,
Just pick out a joy that you like, and quit.

It’s bully sport and it’s open fight;
It will keep you busy both day and night;
For the toughest kind of a game you’ll find
Is to make your body obey your mind.
And you never will know what is meant by grit
Unless there’s something you’ve tried to quit.”

How true this poem is, and how glad I am to have heard it today! Looking back into the year, this is what it had been. “I can let this go…I can let that go” I kept telling myself and those who cared to hear. But never doing so. Many false starts, many attempts at it, but never actually making firm decisions. And truly, I knew not what was meant by grit until I actually tried to quit that one guilty pleasure or another thing of joy which unfortunately dragged me into deeper trouble. Until I tried, by taking the necessary steps,  i did not know.

Grit in psychology is a positive, non-cognitive trait based on an individual’s passion for a particular long-term goal or end state coupled with a powerful motivation to achieve their respective objective. This passion drives you to resist the urge to undo the changes you put in place in order to make your pursuit for that treasured thing smooth. To stay put where you are (in solitude) and not allow doubts to push you out, or some fear. It pushes you to stick to sources of motivation, and truly, motivations that are strong, effective. I read this poem through and sighed. Oh it is hard…self-discipline ( I am most dreadful at keeping to it), and to give yourself commands that you obey. I can’t tell the number of times these past few weeks I have told myself out loud “Amma No! Don’t make that call! Amma No! Don’t think this way. Amma No! Don’t miss this dose (and the temptation to not take medication is high because honestly they taste like bile-flavoured shit) Amma No! Don’t give up! Amma don’t feel defeated. Amma don’t succumb to death! I have lost count. But I keep issuing this command to myself and try, try very hard to obey them. Sometimes I fail. I break down and cry. Yes, i’ve skipped a few doses or more. But the motivation is strong, and as the poem says,

“…you never will know what is meant by grit
Unless there’s something you’ve tried to quit.”

I never thought the year will end so peacefully for me. Rare kind of peace at that. But God is good.

May the New year crown our new beginnings with greatness and see us to our targeted goals.



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