Last weekend my parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. It was an amazing time for them to reminisce with friends and family but it was also amazing for us to witness such an event. In our current society, commitment seems to have become a dirty word. I’m not speaking of just in marriage but in every aspect of life. Our culture has developed into one where if you don’t like something or it becomes difficult, quit. If something doesn’t easily work for you, walk away from it.
Watching my parents together after 50 years of marriage was encouraging not because of the length of time, though it is impressive, but because of the fact they have honored their commitment to all they promised to do so many years ago. Life is not always easy and honoring our commitments often means withstanding all kinds of storms. In our relationships, we are faced with circumstances that stretch us to our limits or make us want to throw our hands up and run away. We are faced with health issues or taking care of someone we love even when it isn’t “pretty.” If we do not have a strong commitment, we will be shaken and pulled apart from those we say we love. With our material possessions, we make commitments but “cut and run” when things get tough. For example, we purchase cars or homes but then don’t want to follow through with the contract we signed and make the payments. Yes, I realize sometimes things happen that prevent us from doing so but I’m speaking about having a choice and choosing not to keep our word. We get tired of dealing with the challenging portions or stress of our jobs so we quit and look for something better.
There is an honorable and beautiful thing about being committed to something or someone and being true to our word. It makes us stronger in the storms when we know we will not let go or walk away no matter how life tries to knock us down. When you secure that decision in your heart and mind, it causes you to take a different approach to the challenges that arise. When you believe that walking away from something is not an option, you will find different and more creative ways to resolve the issues associated with it. If you made your “commitment” in haste, then it is not secured within you and there will always be an option to walk away. Even if it is unspoken, your subconscious still considers it.
It is so vitally important for our own well-being that we do not make commitments until we have “counted the cost” of what we are about to do. I’m not saying your heart is not important in your commitments. Your heart is what drives your passion! What I am saying is that commitment is not a feeling. It is an action…a resolution made after consideration of what you are called to do or are called to be with. It is a conscious, purposeful, rational choice made on something much deeper than emotion. Make no mistake, there will most often be strong emotions tied to these decisions in our lives but do not confuse emotional responses to a decision with a process of emotional decision-making.
Life is full of challenges for all of us. We endure a constant changing of our world and even of ourselves. We learn. We grow. We succeed and we fail. We are human which means we also make mistakes. Sometimes we make commitments to things or people that are unhealthy for us. When this occurs, it is important to realize there is still hope. We do not have to be tied to unhealthy people or situations. We have the freedom to step back and look our commitment and evaluate the circumstances and motives that were involved when we made it. Making a poor decision does not mean you are condemned to a life of misery and sorrow. We have the power and freedom to make a new one! There will always be consequences to our “new” choice but we have a God who forgives our mistakes and can make beautiful art with the scars of those poor choices…if we will let Him.
Commitments should never be taken lightly. The ability to stay true to our word no matter what we face in life is what provides stability for us, our families, our friends and our world. No, it isn’t always easy. It isn’t always pretty but if we have entered into our commitments to each other and to our passions in life with great consideration and conviction, we can look back many years from now and see a path of amazing wonder. We will look back and see beauty rising from every pile of ashes and love rising from every hurt. A wide open and smooth path can be pleasing to the eye but it will never rival the beauty of a path that is adorned with rocks and trees, winding its way past rivers and oceans, over, under, around and through the most complicated and woven landscape of a life truly lived!