There are some words that lose their identity. They become captured by a group that change their meaning. For example, “gay.” We know what it means today but previously it meant “happy.”
Some words get marginalized. Take “commitment,” the big “C” word. Unfortunately it is seldom used in conversations about relationships. We base our love relationships on emotion or “feeling” rather than an action like commitment.
I was a police chaplain for 26 years. Once I agreed to meet with an officer after his shift about his marriage. After shift doesn’t sound bad until you realize it after a graveyard shift. As a youth pastor I had been up late with a group of teens. The last thing I wanted to do is get up early.
After we sat down he said, “I don’t feel like I love her anymore. I have fallen out of love.” I said, “Larry, I’ve been up most of the night. When my alarm went off my body said, ‘You’re not going anywhere.’ I didn’t feel like coming here today. Larry, do you know what got me up? My commitment to you as a friend.” I explained that in marriage our emotions ebb and flow. The problem is that when we reach an emotional low we want to throw in the towel. If we wait, the feelings usually return. We just need to stay committed.
No-fault divorce that began in the 1980’s didn’t help. “Want to get divorce? No problem. No one is to blame. Just walk away.” And we wonder why there are so many divorces. When you add in children it’s especially challenging.
When I counsel a police couple, I’ll often go to my briefcase and pull out my thumb and finger to make a gun and point it toward the wife. To the officer I’ll say, “What are you going to do?” “I will charge you to take the gun off of her.” I explain, “It’s interesting that you would take a bullet for her but not be willing to do anything to save your marriage.” Bam! Right between the eyes.
Commitment is not a sexy word because it represents work. For the most part many feel that work is an enemy and is not fun. We hear, and sometimes say ourselves, “I can’t wait for the weekend. Hey its hump day. TGIF.”
Yes commitment takes work but there is nothing more rewarding than sitting down at the end of a day realizing a job well done. Mission accomplished. May we each day pause and realize the satisfaction of meeting the challenges though they may be difficult. Actually difficulty makes the reward even better and the relationship more meaningful.