Today is my husband and I’s wedding anniversary. For several days now the word “commitment” has been on my mind. I have been thinking about it as it relates to my marriage, my role as a mother, my friendships, my endeavors to live a healthy life, and my relationship with Christ.
Commitment is NOT automatic. You don’t get a heavy dose, one that will last you, throughout any duration in any given area of life. Commitment must be cultivated. Commitment must be intentional. Commitment must be deliberate. Commitment must be on the forefront of one’s mind, in order to not fade and disappear into the background when the trials come. They will come.
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines commitment as: a promise to do or give something; a promise to be loyal to someone or something; the attitude of someone who works very hard to do or support something. Synonymous with commitment is: dedication, devotion, allegiance, loyalty, faithfulness, fidelity. Commitment may begin with a promise (or accepting a challenge), and continues with one’s attitude, driving them to WORK VERY HARD to see said promise or challenge through to the end.
My husband and I promised to love one another until death parts us. However, our attitude to never give up and let go of one another has been what continues to compel us to work hard to keep that promise. And let me tell you, it has been HARD, dare I say more often than not. WE chose to stay when leaving felt like the best thing. WE chose to love when everything pointed towards resentment and anger and justification. WE chose to let go when entitlement whispered in the ear to hold on to hurts. Possessing and being active with our commitment is WHY we celebrate today.
The same holds true for any relationship. Whether with our children, family or friends – we choose to be committed to being who we need to be, for the other person’s sake. Sometimes we need to allow distance, sometimes we need to press in and be close, sometimes we need to soften our words, and other times we need to speak the hard truth. Regardless of the action, at the heart is the commitment to love and help the person we care about, grow. Help the other person receive a sense of encouragement, challenge, and edification – in order to help THEM remain committed.
When it comes to challenges, commitment is imperative. Whether taking on the challenge to revamp how we eat, train for a race, complete a devotion series, save money, follow through in an area of ministry – we need commitment. We begin with the resolve to take on the challenge, but it is the follow through, choice by choice, day by day, that makes it so. A house isn’t built by looking at the bricks and waiting for them to take shape, it’s built by intending to see the house complete and an individual laying one brick at a time until the house is done. The same is with any endeavor we take on. Each step in the right direction sets the foundation, builds the walls, and eventually gives a warm and comforting place of knowing we accomplished what we set out to do.
Jesus shares in Luke 14:28-30 one should not begin a thing until they have taken everything into consideration, fully understanding the cost of taking on said endeavor. Here He is speaking of the cost of being in a relationship with Him, which is heavy when reading the previous verses. Some may have to experience hardship with those closest to them, in order to remain committed to serving the Lord, and living out the Holy Spirit’s guidance in their life. It seems to me, this illustration possesses a principle worth gleaning: FULLY understand the cost BEFORE making the commitment. Once understanding the cost, THEN declare the promise or challenge accepted, knowing full well you are willing to pay the price, no matter how “expensive” it may be. Admittedly, I have not always done this. Excitement, exuberance and emotion got me going, but never saw me through – because feelings fade.
Reflecting today, I see where oftentimes I never fully understood the cost. I never fully knew the sacrifice. I never fully accounted for the difficulties. And I learned from many “failures” as a result. Now a days, I see how commitment and follow through is the mortar that holds nearly everything together: a marriage, relationship, resolve to complete a challenge, and running the race Christ has set before me. If your commitment seems to be waning, know it can be resurrected. It can be revived. It can be fanned and its flame will compel you to see your God given passions through.
not sleeping well. Of course there are several causes for these symptoms, but when my orthodontist asked about them without me telling him, I was a bit floored. Apparently my teeth were goofy enough to cause grinding in my sleep, my bite was just out of alignment enough to mess with proper breathing, and the crowding was beginning to cause gum recession which would eventually become problematic. Huh. Good to know. I have always disliked my teeth, but knowing there were functional issues going on, I elected for treatment.
Oh. My. Goodness. About the third day I was wishing I hadn’t of. When my mouth was still sore two weeks later and tender to eat, I thought, “It wasn’t really THAT BAD having headaches, a sore jaw and waking up.” But as time went on, the symptoms subsided, my teeth began to “shape up” and now I will soon have them off. I have stopped grinding, the jaw pain is gone, and I sleep fairly well these days. Soon, I will get to see a smile I have never seen before, and it excites me. The torture was worth it ;)
What’s the parallel? Many times I have elected to do something and when things got tough, I had the freedom to bow out. Not this time. Once the braces were on, they were on. No going back. I was stuck with them. While it seems odd to say it, a relationship with Christ is similar.
Once asking Jesus to be the Lord of my life (which really was only a little over seven years ago, even though I’ve believed since I was seven), we’re kind of stuck with Him. That sounds negative, but it’s not. I have found, He takes our request for Him to lead and guide us VERY SERIOUSLY. And sometimes it can be painful. Gasp! Painful? Why? God is supposed to be loving, caring and compassionate. How could it EVER be painful?
Just like the wires readjusting, properly spacing, align correcting – God has to do the same with us. He wants for us to be aligned to His image, and that means those areas in our lives that are “turned wrong” or “wonky” need to be dealt with. This can be painful. When we get into His Word and receive nudges from His Spirit about something needing to change, we can say to ourselves – when I was leading my life, it wasn’t really ALL that bad. Except, it was. There was pain and discomfort there - or perhaps it always felt like something was missing. There may have been brokenness there. After asking Jesus to lead, there may still be brokenness, but it is with good reason!
The more He reveals and changes and tweaks us (the breaking part if you will), the more genuine peace we live in. The more authentic joy we experience. Thankfully, like having braces, He doesn’t do everything all at once. There are several weeks between tightening wires, or adding bands, or placing a thicker gauge wire to move teeth. A progression. God is the same. Once He deals with one area, He lets us live there for a while, and then there will be another challenge come along to help minimize the flesh’s stronghold even more. As long as we are willing, we will learn and grow more, in Him. We become more like Him as the days go by, and we begin to reap the benefits nearly right away.
But if we do not cooperate, we can experience turmoil. I had a choice to cooperate during my braces treatment. I had to make sure I kept my teeth cleaned, properly flossed, wear my bands, and so on. If I didn’t, I would have prolonged treatment, or even risked having them removed before treatment was up. It is similar with Christ. We are invited to cooperate with Him during our sanctification, although sometimes we don't always do so (or at least I haven't anyway).
When I stopped cooperating with Him, I prolonged arriving at the place He would like to take me. When I went back to doing the leading, it was different. I now sensed His Word and Spirit in my heart and thoughts, constantly speaking to me about what He has for me instead. I imagine this is true for many who chose to begin doing things in their own strength again. Why? Why is He like those braces we just can't back out of? Because He loves us too much to let us settle for less than what He wants to give us. He wants us to live as a reflection of His image. He wants us to be aligned to His Word. He wants us to live with the fruits of His Spirit in our lives. He wants us to live a life of Love, rather than fear, or brokenness, or loneliness, or emptiness. Not for our sake, but for His glory and the sake of others!
So if you’ve found yourself in your walk with Christ and you feel like things became a little too uncomfortable, He touched raw tender places, or you just did not want to go where you thought He may be leading you, and you realize you may have resumed possession of the wheel in your life, be encouraged to pray and ask Him to have it back. It may feel like torture at times, but in the end when you begin to live with a peace that passes understanding and an unexplainable joy, BEFORE you reach the glory place in heaven, I believe we're all going to see it is ALL WORTH IT!
Many blessings and please let me know if you would like prayer or need encouragement.
more challenging emotionally, and I’m sure the temptation do so may grow more each day. And I certainly had an embarrassing moment on day three.
I shared day one and two, my hubby began to pick up on something being “different”, with just me remaining positive and sharing a few acts of kindness. Friday, day three, was no different. The dare was to buy a gift. My problem is not that I don’t like to buy gifts, but I LOVE to buy them. Gift giving is my favorite. I just love it. But I had to keep my husband in mind. You see, the runner up to the inventory we did last week, was our finances. We both have goals we’d like to meet in this area of our lives, and I knew this. So I needed to get something that wasn’t too costly, but would be meaningful for HIM – not me.
What’s a girl to do? Well, I sought God’s advice and said a prayer. I was surprised by the thoughts that came to mind…something intimate, something edible (not necessarily both of those things combined), and something loving, with a focus on respect. Oooooookaaaaaay…
I knew I would be heading to the store to get party supplies for my daughter’s birthday that evening, I could pick up a few things there, comprise a goody bag with my husband in mind. Right away I made my way to the very small section of, how should I say it, “intimates” products. Chose something quickly and did my best to disguise my choice beside my purse. My feeling of relief was quickly swept away when I looked over to one of my daughter’s former swim coaches just smiiiiling at me. Oh how I love living in a small town. I grin, nod, and move on, face about ten shades of red – something intimate, check.
What to eat? what to eat? The Valentine’s isle was full of goodies, but I didn’t want to go there. Plus, he’s been trying to keep it Whole30 with me. But then again, I felt like it should be a treat – I mean, I wasn’t making a lemon grass cake for my daughter’s birthday because of our eating philosophy, why should I treat my husband to something similar? I chose some of his favorite candies – something edible, check.
Time was closing in on me, I still needed to get the party favors for my daughter’s gathering and I would have about eight girls ready to go, in just about an hour. A card. I’ll get him a card. Again, no shortage of Valentine’s cards, not going that route. Head to the “love” cards. Meh, too many things that don’t “fit” us. Alas, a card! Simple, and fitting for my honey – something loving with a focus on respect, check. Time to get the birthday goodies!
Made my rounds and headed to the checkout. Not without passing the swim coach a SEVERAL MORE TIMES – same grin, same red face. Not only that, but I had to dodge a few people I knew, just to avoid the infamous “hey let’s catch up in the store because we hardly see one another and oh by the way what’s that there in your cart” moments. Mercy, why did I come in here on a Friday?! I’m checking out, feeling relatively victorious, and embarrassment subsiding, when I hear some masculine snickers behind me.
I’m sure it looked quite interesting: birthday blow horns, cans of crazy string, an air horn, and then – the “intimate”. Why wouldn’t the lady ring out faster?! Why couldn’t she just scan it FIRST?! When she finally did, she grinned as if she was thinking, “Honey, I know. I know.” Lord, help me get out of here. And in that moment, I felt as if he was sort of amused by the whole thing. Oh the sacrifices we make for those we love. Ha!
Once I gave him the gift, he was surprised and gracious (he should’ve been after what I just went through, just kidding). He even giggled a bit, not even knowing the story. What got me though, was the moment my daughters realized I had given him a gift (although they were unaware of EACH ITEM in the gift bag) “just because”. They both expressed how sweet it was, my oldest even said “Awe, hashtag goals. You two make me want to have someone to share with.” Now that is something! Modeling loving behavior and having your teenager in awe – priceless!
Day four and five were less eventful. My youngest ended up getting really sick following her birthday party, which called for the majority of my attention. We relaxed at home with her yesterday, we didn’t even make it to church. But my husband and I wrote on paper the things that made us uncomfortable or irritated us. My list was more emotional, where his was more task driven – an identified area of where we differ on what we view as important. BUT – another opportunity to change things and discuss what is important to us. Again, my oldest was amused by our “letter passing” and very curious on what we are up to. She has Instagram, so while I am not posting the dares there, I think she read the blog post and is entertained by the things I come up with for her dad. Plus, she is a romantic, so she is thoroughly enjoying this live romantic saga unfolding before her very eyes ;)
Wow! This was a loooong post, sorry if it was too much. I hope your Love Dare is going well. I’m praying for several folks and believing God will move in your lives, the way He is moving in mine – and hopefully without TOO many embarrassing moments!
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