Saturday, March 7, 2015
by Andrew Cromwell
What does it mean to commit to something? All of us have committed to get back in the gym, to start eating right, or stop wasting so much time on Facebook. More often than not, we have failed to follow through. Our lives are strewn with the wreckage of half-finished projects; plans that never made it past the dream stage, and relationships that always seem to fall just short of being great.
Commitment isn’t easy. Aligning our desires with our will-power and mixing them together in a way that results in personal transformation is just tough. Even more when it comes to the commitment that is required for our relationships to move to the next level. It is one thing to commit to get into the gym, and entirely another to commit to working through the junk that we all have in our closest relationships.
Loving people who are close to you — truly loving them — requires a level of commitment that we are uncomfortable with. It is easy to say we love someone. People say that all the time. We tell it to our kids when we are getting ready to leave our spouse. We say things like, “I love your mom/dad, but we just can’t live together.” Or we say it when we are talking about our relatives, “I love them, but I just can’t stand to be in the same room with them!"
Well, if that’s the case, then we have to ask ourselves, what does love really mean? The last time I checked, love was more than a feeling of liking the person (although that is part of it), it also involved a commitment to the person. For love really to be love, it means that we must be willing to be committed to the person. We must be committed to loving them through their limitations and weaknesses. We must be committed to the person whether or not we like them in the moment and whether or not they make us feel good.
This is where the rubber meets the road. Dear reader, you might be thinking that this kind of love is ideal and impossible. You live in the real world, and this kind of love is good only for saints and children’s stories. But I’d like to suggest that we not write off this kind of love so quickly. I believe that it is only when we love people through the difficult times that we really begin to understand what love means. Love that only loves when the other person makes us feel good or does what we want is nothing more than self-love. This kind of love says, “I love me so much that I'll love you only when you make me happy."
Regrettably, this is often the kind of love that characterizes marriages today. We say nice things to our spouse during the wedding ceremony, but we only mean them as long as we stay happy in the relationship. The moment we “fall out of love”, which is just code for, “you don’t make me happy anymore” or “I’m bored and selfish”, and then we make plans to move on to the next relationship.
Maybe it’s time for a revolution of commitment in our relationships. Whether it’s your marriage, your relatives or your closest friends, maybe we need to raise our understanding of what love means. So the next time you find yourself wanting to run away because the going gets tough, you stick in and fight for that which is important—your relationships. You and I have to be willing to fight for what matters. Maybe it’s true that the best lovers are the best fighters.