Grit Happens

Over the last couple of weeks my son Sam, has been picking up some retic jobs on his own and fixing things without me around.

On Thursday this week just after we’d had lunch at home and were about to head back down Marmion Ave to the suburbs, the phone rang and a lady in Yanchep needed a solenoid located and replaced.

‘You want this one?’ I said. ‘I can sort the others out.’

‘Sure’ said Sam. His hourly rate goes up if he works on his own, so it was a no brainer. The job was to locate a solenoid and replace it. He’d make the same money as if he came with me but he’d be finished early and able to surf.

We went our separate ways and he called me after an hour a little frustrated that he hadn’t found the solenoid. We discussed what he had tried and I offered a few ideas for what he could do differently.

He pushed on and after another 45 minutes he called to say he still hadn’t found it. The cost to the client was mounting up and no result…I could hear the anxiety and confusion in his voice. What do I do?…I know that feeling all too well. I have dug up many a yard searching for ellusive valves.

‘Do you want me to come and help?’ I asked.

‘No. No – I really should be able to sort this out on my own,’ he said staunchly.

Good answer. I felt quite proud that after nearly 2 hours he rejected my offer of help. And he was absolutely correct. He should be able to find it on his own. But some times that is easier said than done.

About half an hour later I had finished for the day, so I swung by to see how he was going.

‘No further on he said.’ I saw numerous piles of sand and dirt and pavers where he had tried to trace the wires to find the valves. No one knows that feeling of desperation and frustration like another retic bloke! An afternoon surf was looking less likely now.

I followed his logic and his way of looking for the valves and it made sense. But so far – no result.

I grabbed the solenoid detector and went for a quick walk across the front lawn, just in case he had missed something and instantly the detector started beeping. I had stumbled on them in less than a minute. A little bit of experience combined with a touch of hunch.

‘Ok – all yours,’ I said and I hopped in the car and went home.

About 30 minutes later the phone rang and it was Sam. He had fixed the valve but now another one was stuck open.

‘This is crazy dad! At this rate I’ll be here to 7 o’clock,’ he said.

‘Want some help?’ I haven’t showered yet.

He paused. ‘No – I should be able to do this I want to do this.’

It was a brave answer late in the day on a 38 degree afternoon. I decided not to shower just in case…

He pushed on and replaced the valve – but it failed on him. The new valve let water thru.

He called for advice.

‘Want help? I can be there in 2 minutes.’


‘I still haven’t made it to the shower…’

‘Go have a shower. I will work it out.’

He did. He had left the spring out of the solenoid and he spotted it shortly after. An easy mistake to make when you’re hot and weary. He got those 2 valves working and then as he was testing the system another one failed. What are the chances?’

You know those moments when you’ve given all you’ve got and you’ve made good progress, but then it all turns to custard? When you have just had enough?

Yeah – that.

There are few things in life as valuable as the will to keep going even when you really want to quit.

How do you learn this particular character trait?

You learn perseverance by persevering. If you quit early, or quit too soon you then you become good at quitting. You learn how to quit. Your character weakens. If you tough it out, then you actually develop inner resolve and fortitude. In writing of this suffering for the faith Paul says:

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Romans 5:3-4

You build character as you practice grit and determination – as you refuse to quit.

He didn’t call this time. He just kept going. And going…

At 6.00pm I heard the throaty exhaust of his Navara drive up the road. He was earlier than I expected. Maybe he’s quit for the night and he’s going to go back, I thought.

Sometimes a break enables you to problem solve better than just keeping going. I had encouraged him to consider just letting it go for a day or two, but he was intent on finishing.

He wanted to do it and he kept going.

As he came up the steps it was with an unexpected spring rather than a stomp and as I caught his eye there was a smile on his face.

‘All done,’ he said.

‘Well done mate. Proud of you!’ And I was – super proud. He had found the other solenoid, replaced it, cleaned up and finished the job. There was some eye fillet steak and prawns awaiting him for dinner.

We charged the client a lot less than our hourly rate as he had spent the first two hours ‘learning’. But that is learning he won’t forget quickly. And the value of perseverance will stay with him for a long time.

Sometimes the only way thru is to keep going – to refuse to let your discouragement and struggle get the better of you.

And yes – I realise that’s easier said than done, but I also know many people ‘quit too soon’.

Sometimes you just have to keep going and going and going…

So, maybe you need to hear this post. Maybe your marriage is ‘too hard’, or your job is getting you down, or life itself is just giving you the irrit and you’re considering checking out.

You can quit- or you can push on. If you quit then you learn to quit. Do it often enough and you will be a skilled quitter – you won’t even realise you are doing it. But if you persevere and stay the course – if you ride out the discouragement and frustration then you will learn perseverance- which builds character and subsequently hope.

So – Well done my son for not quitting – but sticking with it and learning the value of perseverance. May this lesson serve you well as you go thru life.

9 thoughts on “Grit Happens

  1. Great lesson for us all. Success often comes after a lot of gritting it out.

    The calm support of someone more experienced also adds to your confidence as you try abs work things out.

    Good one, Andrew!

  2. Thanks for this. Haven’t read this blog in many years (nothing personal, just moved on from church stuff in many ways and have needed some space from it!) but thought I’d check back in and amazing to see Sam has moved on from the young guy he was before to doing his own retic work. Really enjoyed the post, I’ll be sure to check in more often.

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