No, it’s not what you’re thinking…..nothing ‘R’ rated in this post! Rather, the ‘C’ word I’m referring to is…..commitment. It has just occurred to me that my life follows a pattern of commitment-phobia, in that I have flittered around from place to place and job to job rather like a gypsy, with very few real friends to speak of and only a brief love life. It’s almost as if I’ve been lifting the lid of my unconscious mind lately and exclaiming, “Oh wow, is that how it works!”
Commitment lies at the heart and soul of life. All of the things we value – love, friendship, food, home, fun activities – are all the product of commitment of some form. And the less we value commitment, the less likely we will get to enjoy the very best of life. Unfortunately, given how easy things come to us in this age, it’s easy to give very little heed to the ‘c’ word, preferring instead to take pleasure from whatever source we can, while avoiding the unpleasant when it arises.
I can note defining times in childhood where I refused the discipline that would instil the value of commitment. One of these was when I began to learn Taekwondo. At first I was excited by the prospect of being able to put on the uniform, win successive belts until reaching the ultimate prize of black belt, and kicking and punching like the best of the best. Yet what I found was some gruelling training sessions and very repetitive movements. Where was the fun in this? They didn’t tell me it would be so hard! What I didn’t realize at that age was that martial arts is a discipline requiring a long commitment. The ideas of discipline and commitment were rather foreign, for I had been spared of much pain, and had been under the care of parents who shielded me very quickly in the face of painful situations.
Given that childhood is where the brain has most of its formative work, it is no wonder that my experience of life has been one to resist discipline and commitment. So now my task is to develop that muscle, and one of the places I’ve chosen to do so is within my faith. Christians speak of “making a commitment to Christ”, which really mostly involves a shift in belief more than a genuine passion for following in the footsteps of Jesus. At least that’s how it was for me all those years ago – all about right belief rather than right living.
Placing myself back within the community of the church is risky business, and it’s likely I’ll find my new perspectives to rub up against what is believed and taught. Yet I will stand firm in a commitment that is far more meaningful than a mere hoping for a better afterlife. It’s a commitment to listen and engage with those I meet; to meet them where they are at; and to see through what I don’t like into what is pure at heart. This is where I find God, where I do not resist the things that are unpleasant, but take it all in for the highest good.