A friend of mine after achieving a milestone in marriage (I believe it was his 60 anniversary), was asked the the secret of his longevity. I don’t think I will ever forget his answer. His answer was instant and firm, “Commitment.” The questioner replied, “and patience, right?” “No, patience runs out. It takes commitment.”
Commitment is somewhat of an anomaly these days. Even though divorce rates are decreasing, most marriages still end in divorce. But it isn’t just marriage. People don’t seem to commit to much of anything anymore. Our society is built on choices and if somebody offers us better choice, most of us will not hesitate to take it. But this can be quite devastating in areas of relationships. When relationships lack any type commitment, there really isn’t much of a relationship.
I think most of us recognize that when times get tough, it’s pretty easy to find out who your friends are. Your true friends may even be the people that you have hurt, disappointed, or broke their hearts; but when in need they are the ones who can’t seem to abandon you. That’s commitment.
Remember the old wedding vows? They were first published in 1549 in the book of Common Prayer. They have been altered a bit over the years, but most of us can at least paraphrase them as well as we can the Lord’s Prayer or John 3:16: “to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part.”
The vows are not about convenience; they are about commitment. We stay together “for better for worse, for richer for poorer.” In other words, we don’t trade in the old nag for a newer model. We don’t step out on a relationship because there better benefits somewhere else. This is foreign to our common way of thinking in America, but I believe there is benefit.
People need commitment. We need to know that even when we foul up, there are at least some people who will stick with us even when it cost them. You can’t put a price tag on commitment. It is truly a priceless treasure. It is as rare as virginity till the point of marriage and just as appreciated. Many believe in it, but very few achieve it.
This is quite apparent in working with children. I work with children who have had to face all sorts of hardships. These children are used to disappointment, and they are used to people departing from their lives. Some have seen foster home after foster home. Some have been transferred from parent to parent to grandparent to aunt and uncle to complete strangers just like I was when I was growing up. Always looking for acceptance and hoping for some sort of solidity where people will commit to love them as they are, flaws and all.
Life is full of disappointments and good byes. Broken relationships are the norm and self reigns supreme. But in such a world one of the greatest things we can offer is commitment.