Wisdom Workout


Grace and Grit

By Susan McNeal Velasquez
By Susan McNeal Velasquez


   Two of my brothers and one of my sisters, their spouses and families have all been directly impacted by the tragedy in Houston. Even the home owned by my parents, plus the neighborhood that holds all my younger siblings’ growing up memories, is five feet under water.

During times like this, it takes immense courage to find the inner resilence to stand up to such widespread devastation.

As children, we believe that when we grow up and take our rightful place as adults, we will no longer be vulnerable. All the stories of the heroes from history prove that if you stand up, no matter what, you will ultimately triumph and through Herculean feats of inner and outer strength, you will thrive.

The stories usually skim over the times of confusion, doubt, despair, grief, pain and self-loathing simply because those experiences muddy up the water and take the punch out of the motivational message that through true grit, the world’s treasures are there for the taking for the man or woman who will grab the handle of courage and fight the good fight with no thought of retreat.

If it is good to be independent, it stands to reason that it would be bad to be dependent. Total independence requires a fierce and aggressive approach to securing our fortress against any enemies that could usurp our invincible personal power. Dependence requires submissiveness and the willingness to surrender to circumstances outside of our control. Rebuilding Houston will require both independent action and the willingness to accept help.

Dependence and submission, when held as negatives, become the doorway through which we enter onto the slippery slide of passive victimhood. We are done in by life and we are pathetic.

In those quiet, dark moments when our life is brought to a dead stop through unforeseen circumstances, we are thrown into frozen panic and despair and shamefully take on the mantle of victimhood. We berate ourselves when we feel overcome with emotion and feel humiliated in our own eyes while trying to hide the uncontrollable feelings of anxiety and panic that come without permission.

If we are able to be honest, we have each felt these feelings and thought these thoughts at sometime in our lives. As we loosen our hold on our either/or thinking, new awareness can begin to surface.

As children we were dependent. Since we made it to adulthood, we know that we received at least enough sustenance to survive. We were sustained through no creation of our own. We received and we grew. We showed up and we thrived. Therefore independence cannot be the top of the mountain. It is part of the story, just not the whole story.

Here is a well-kept secret that once you know it, could change your life. Here it is: striving, fighting, wrestling life to the ground and extracting all that we can, locks us solidly into the other side of passive victimhood. We become active victims. We joylessly take on the impossible, we never surrender, and we continually push the boulder up the hill. We become human gerbils on the treadmill of life. We become tragic victims of endless striving.

We are unable to relax, to enjoy, to love or be loved or to experience real satisfaction. We function on automatic pilot, devoid of the spontaneity and wonder that was once a part of the child that is trapped inside of our invulnerable adult façade.

Of course, my family and those who are facing the monumental task of rebuilding their lives will do what is necessary to get the job done and will support each other in the process.

What about you and I? How often do we bring an attitude of “life is hard and then you die” to issues that are mere inconveniences or minor disappointments?

Let’s take this opportunity to help the people of Houston and also take a moment to revisit what is truly important to us. Activate our appreciation of all the blessings we have, while remembering that the only real security is the graciousness to both give and receive and the courage within to suit up and show up as best we can in any given moment.

Instead of continuing to struggle, let us take up the fight for a new loveliness of a life of our own making that allows us to thrive, nurtured and sustained by the gifts birthed from the marriage of grace and grit.


Susan is a local author and personal development facilitator. Reach her at beyondintellect.com.

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