My four year wedding anniversary is today. Four years of marriage, and over eight years of our relationship.
Wikipedia says that the newlywed period can last up to four years (and Wiki knows everything), so it’s officially over with this anniversary. I haven’t considered myself a newlywed in a couple years though, because I’ve had to choose to love my husband several times over.
Commitment isn’t magic. It isn’t being so infatuated with someone that nothing else in the world matters. Because other things do matter. Other people matter. Life outside of your marriage MATTERS. Commitment to my husband is a repetitive choice to return home even when I’m boiling mad at him, to love him when he’s annoying, to respect him when I disagree, to push him when I know he needs it, to support him in everything, and to surprise him by putting my coffee cups in the dishwasher every once in a while.
Commitment is realizing that you’ve made mistakes, sometimes big ones, in how you’ve prioritized your relationship, how you’ve treated him, how you reacted or responded to an issue. Then you learn from that mistake, tighten your ponytail, and make the choice to be committed and present in your marriage.
We struggle with commitment in other places than our human relationships.
A little over 5 years ago, I committed myself to a healthier lifestyle. I started running, and working out, and paying attention to what I ate. Much like a young married person, I may not have known exactly what that meant when I jumped into it. I counted calories, seeing how low I could get, thinking that 100 calorie packs of Cheezits and frozen diet dinners were good food choices. My heart was in the right place, which is what matter with commitment. The important part is that I was committed to learning about health, adjusting as I go, and doing my best to implement the knowledge and experience that I gained along the way.
Food and humans aside, we also struggle with commitment in our relationship with Christ. He is, in every sense, the perfect spouse. He loves us unconditionally while still pushing and challenging us to be the best version of ourselves, the true creations He made us to be. But He knows that we will fail, and is ready to catch us when we fall.
Commitment to any of these, marriage, health, or God, cannot be a commitment to perfection. We can never attain it and will become so discourage that we will quit trying. When we are committed to the things that matter, we have to be committed to the repetitive choice, to constant learning, and to seeking knowledge, wisdom, and discernment in these areas.
In her book, The Best Yes (which I totally recommend), Lysa Terkeurst writes:
“Knowledge is wisdom that comes from acquiring truth. Insight is wisdom that comes from living out the truth we acquire. Discernment is wisdom that comes form the Holy Spirit’s reminders of that knowledge and insight.”
This correlates with MUCH of the first several chapters of Proverbs. In particular, Proverbs 4:7 says, “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight.”
If you continue to read in Proverbs, you’ll see how the author describes wisdom as a path to follow, as something to be gained over time, and a skill to be learned and practice. Wisdom, and commitment, is not something you can just decide to have and exercise perfectly from day 1. It is the practice of repetitive choice.
We are going to fall off the wagon in any area we commit. We are sinful, imperfect creatures locked in a battle that we are destined to lose on our own. The good news is we are not on our own. God understands that and sends the Holy Spirit to be with us in this battle.
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:26-28.
Commitment is a battle. Even the Apostle Paul battled for it…
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.” 2 Tim. 4:7
So I fight for my marriage, every day. I choose to love him over and over. I fight for my health. I strive for the balance of a sustainable lifestyle of mostly good choices with enough treats to keep my sanity. I fight for my faith. In a world where so many others want to tell me what my relationship with Christ is supposed to look like, what a ‘good Christian’ does, who a ‘good Christian’ votes for… the struggle is to focus on God, and ONLY God. To listen to His voice, not the clamoring human noise. To see myself as He sees me, and to be what He made me to be.
These are winding paths, full of opportunities for growing in wisdom. I choose to keep walking. And then I choose again, and again, and again, and again…