Spiritual Reflections

The Power To Determine

Don’t give up. Press on. Keep going. Push forward. No surrender. These are but some of the many popular encouragement-driven catchphrases that we’ve grown too accustomed with. And while some of these are quite effective, there are times when they just feel a little bit empty or insufficient.

One of the things I learned is that no matter how much encouragement you give a person, unless s/he helps him/herself — it’s pointless. Even if you give all the help that is within your power, even move heaven and earth — unless someone has the will to allow such help to change their situation, it’s all useless.

I realize that sometimes, what separates ordinary people from winners is simply a little thing called determination.

Let’s check first if we really know what it means: 


noun \di-ˌtər-mə-ˈnā-shən\

: a quality that makes you continue trying to do or achieve something that is difficult
: the act of finding out or calculating something
: the act of officially deciding something
Source: Merriam Webster


Out of curiosity, I thought “hey, if I remove the de- which usually connotes a reverse meaning, would I find something interesting?” And sure enough:


noun \ˌtər-mə-ˈnā-shən\

: an act of ending something
Source: Merriam Webster


Terminating something is an act of conscious choice. It doesn’t just happen. You decide it: terminating a job, a project, an activity, a contract, a relationship, a life. It’s not easy — but we choose to do so because most of the time, it’s the easier choice.

Yet to have determination goes against this impulse to terminate. We practice patience through determination. We exercise faith through determination. We uphold love through determination. We cling on hope through determination. We choose to do all these virtuous things by denying the more convenient option of simply ending something, and instead — believe in something unimaginable yet possible.

Another interesting word from determine is the term deter.


transitive verb \di-ˈtər, dē-\

: to cause (someone) to decide not to do something
: to prevent (something) from happening
Source: Merriam Webster


Determination not only can affect one’s self — it can also create an impact on someone else, and influence their own decisions. However, this does not equate to controlling another person. Rather, with determination, one is able to achieve long-suffering and perseverance in reaching out to someone they care about. With determination, a parent can bear with the stressful work environment and survive long hours in order to provide for their family. With determination, a suitor can woo and wait for his beloved for even years just to win a damsel’s heart. With determination, even a seemingly ordinary person can become successful. And with determination, a leader can guide a small team or even a nation through difficult times.

Determination is not easy. It’s not something achievable with merely physical, emotional or mental strength. Determination goes beyond these. It’s when we push ourselves to make an extra step when our legs are shaking and our knees are about to buckle down. It’s when we grit out teeth despite the sadness, loneliness, grief, anger, heartaches and bravely yet sincerely say, “I still care”. It’s when confusion, worries, insecurities, doubts, fears and insanity threatens to sway our resolve — and still find the will to walk through the darkness towards an unseen glimmer of hope, merely knowing and trusting that it is there waiting for us.

Determination kicks us to press on when our commitments waver, and we’re strongly tempted to break our fragile promises. Determination rallies us to our oft-forgotten purposes, visions, goals, objectives and all those personal guides. Determination focuses us, even when our sights are not. Determination wipes away the tears and faces the storm — not out of stubborn will, but because of fervent, passionate will.

God Himself showed His determination — not only through the death of Christ at the Cross, but even before it. He had determined us to be His stewards of His creation — and even when we failed, He was so determined for us to keep it that He had made a plan to save us even at the beginning of history. He never gave up on His plan, even despite the countless failures of His chosen people. He pressed on with determination through various stories and tragedies, His eyes only at the prize — to realize that moment when Christ would be victorious through His resurrection.

Not everything is possible with determination — that much is true. But then, who determines what is impossible or not?


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