Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Commitment




“The dedicated life is the life worth living.”





"And if they stare
                                                      Just let them burn their eyes on you moving
And if they shout
Don't let them change a thing what you're doing
Hold your head up, hold your head upHold your head up, hold your head high..."

Ron Argent - Hold Your Head Up



Recently I wrote about a class I was taking that wasn’t meeting my expectations.  As I said, there was nothing wrong with the class or the teachers, it simply didn’t seem to be what I wanted or needed.  My conclusion of the matter was to finish the class anyway because I had made the commitment.  I’m glad I did.  Last night I had the opportunity to speak with both the teachers and it was an enlightening and, in some ways, even a freeing conversation.  The conversation put me in such a great mood for the rest of the evening and affirmed my decision to keep my commitment.
I think now that at least part of my dissatisfaction with the class came from the Enemy, especially the part where I thought about quitting.  There is nothing the Enemy likes more than to see me give up when things aren’t going my way.  I know there have been other times in my life when I did not follow through on commitments and regretted it deeply.  Fortunately, there have also been times when I did follow through on what I said I would do and I received a blessing by the way of peace and joy.  Curiously, however, there were times when I followed through on commitments and this caused me great pain.
So then what is the principle here?  Is it to always follow through on every commitment I make?  Yes.  But this is a principle, not a rule.  I once had a roommate who would beat me over the head with Psalm 15:4,

“The Lord honors one…. who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
 and does not change their mind;”

I also think of the words from Fields of Gold by Sting:
“I never made promises lightly
And there have been some that I've broken…”



Obviously the bible has more weight than pop song lyrics, but here is where I stand on this.
First, it’s important to understand what a commitment is and what it isn’t.  It’s the decision to follow through, no matter what, even if it does hurt.  But not everything is a commitment.  What Psalm 15:4 describes, however, is more than a commitment; it’s an oath.  It’s a vow, often made in public to stay with the commitment until its end.  In my life I know I have failed here.  I’m not excusing or justifying it.  I’m not telling others to do the same.  I’m simply saying that in some areas of my life, I did my very best, as limited as it was, and I could no longer follow through on my commitment.  My promise was not made lightly.  I take the blame and responsibility and I move on. 
There is a part of me that believes God is going to punish me for not sticking with things.  Fortunately, there is another part of me that believes in God’s grace and forgiveness.  I am not trying to use God’s grace as a cheap fix or a justification.  I’m simply saying I did the best I could and I am choosing to move on.
There are lesser degrees of commitment that are no less important.  If I promise to meet a friend for dinner, I should follow through even if “something better” comes up.  One time I did not do this because I thought the food at a church potluck would be a better alternative to whatever my friend had planned for a dinner commitment.  This resulted in missing a wonderful steak dinner with a good friend and eating bad food instead, also resulting in an upset stomach. 
There are also the unwritten daily commitments that I am learning to honor.  These include the following:
·      Doing my job to the best of my ability, every day.
·      Being present and patient with my children.
·      Obeying traffic laws as part of being a committed citizen.
·      Managing money more wisely.

I also need to honor the commitments I’ve made to myself, such as my blogs or my radio show.  I need to create and honor the commitments to my spiritual life, my financial life, my personal growth and my relationships.  I need to renew my commitments regularly.  I need to not give up.  I need to Get Started and Keep Going.