noun 1. the act of coming to a decision or of fixing or settling a purpose. 2. ascertainment, as after observation or investigation: determination of a ship’s latitude. 3. the information ascertained; solution. 4. the quality of being resolute; firmness of purpose. 5. a fixed purpose or intention.
Determination is rebounding through my mind today. I had a whole other idea of what was coming next in this blog, but, nope, determination is the next thing. Have you ever examined determination? Why are some folks successful in some endeavors and others not? It’s not only a natural talent that helps fuel success. I think for some it’s simply determination; moxie; grit; or a bull-headedness that keeps them pushing forward despite all odds.
I was one of those kids: stuck; life out of control all around me; on a seemingly useless trajectory toward a whole lot of nothingness and I was determined I wasn’t going that way. So it was put-your-head-down and grit-your-teeth and the moment you could flip yourself out of the trajectory you were orbiting toward, you’d do so. Determination was my friend and the closest buddy I had in those days.
And then one day I “arrived”. Out of the mess, running my own life, living by my own rules. But was I really? Are any of us, really? There are a whole lot of pre-determined rules set by a society that thinks it knows it’s way. Is this where it goes terribly wrong for some people? They see the rules but won’t follow them? Or, conversely, they don’t see those rules and have no idea what’s happening at all? That is, until some of those rules are broken and they end up on the other side of somewhere they never hoped to be. That could be jail, poverty, single motherhood or any number of places it will take a whole lot of determination to lift oneself out of. Perhaps some people just don’t have it in them to fight that fight.
Or maybe they didn’t break those societal rules but they end up in a situation that just sucks the life right out of them: abuse; illness; unemployment with no job on the horizon. We’ve all known people like that. Or maybe those people were us; or a mom or a friend.
How does hope play into to all of that? The hope of a calling, the hope of a future? The possibility of a better place than the frightful one you are standing in? What was there in me that kept hope alive? Is this the Vitamin X that helps some people make it out of terrible places? Is it hope and determination, mixed together that fills their fuel tanks and, like rocket power, sends them out of the orbit of the trajectory they were on?
I don’t know these answers: I am a philosopher philosophizing and still walking out the path. Or as Philippians says, because that’s what is speaking to me right now, I do not consider myself to have attained this. I don’t even consider myself single-minded. But I know, in order to allow the fuel of determination to kick in, I’ve had to forget the things that were behind me and reach for the things that were ahead. (Philippians 3:13 ESV – paraphrased.)
So I guess that answers my musing: yes, it’s determination and hope, mixed together in a cocktail you swig. And if you don’t have these two things you better get them. Get yourself to a place to find them. Get your brain in a state to receive them. Find a friend who can help inject them. They are two things worth finding if you, too, are standing in a situation on a trajectory you’ve got to avoid.
So that’s my prayer for you tonight, my friends. May the hope of your calling find you; may you pursue it with determination. And may you never find yourself on a trajectory you’d rather avoid. But know, if you do, there’s a way out of that place and there’s hope to arrive there. Keep up your faith, because sometimes it’s all you’ve got. Faith will lead to hope and hope to determination and one day, soon I pray, you’ll have arrived.