Ordinarily my husband and I go away for our anniversary. Over the years, we’ve celebrated our marriage in a variety of ways. When we were young and still paying off student loans, we went camping and enjoyed mud baths. Another year we stayed in a beautiful bed and breakfast that overlooked Monterey Bay. More often than not, our anniversary celebration has included warm weather and water even though we got married in March. We’ve been to Puerto Rico, Cabo San Lucas, Key West, and the Bahamas.
This year, due to work commitments, my husband and I chose to stick closer to home and enjoy a tasty dinner out. Even though our celebration this year was simple by comparison, we were determined to not let our 32 years together go by without hoopla!
Back when made the decision to commit our lives to one another, we really had no idea what we were getting into or what was ahead! Love struck, we imagined a life of bliss together. We included something in the vows we wrote to each other about staying together “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.” At the time, it was hard to imagine being any poorer, and when you are brimming with health, sickness and death all seem seriously unlikely!
Our life together has taken us places we never imagined. We’ve lived in three states; navigated two untimely job loses, raised three amazing children, and survived the seven years our daughter was chronically ill with a life threatening illness. Together we’ve endured the strain of my husband’s perpetual travels while I held down the fort homeschooling, running a business, and overseeing a ministry.
My husband and I have also navigated the gradual shift in our life as our children left for college and each got married soon after graduating. We’ve walked through Lyme disease together and the joy of grandchildren – so far we have three, each unique and beyond adorable! Of course we aren’t biased at all! I am sure (we hope!) there are more to come!
On the way home from our simple celebration this year, my husband and I were talking about how being married for 32 years is not that common anymore. In fact, people are kind of surprised to learn how long we’ve been married. People don’t seem to be committed to making marriage work. Just about every day there is a celebrity marriage break up announcement. The sad thing is, many others I know personally are making the same announcement. Maybe people just aren’t as committed in general as they have been in the past.
Being committed to a marriage, job, business, or goal is not easy. It takes a certain level of grit to stick it out. Just like there have been a host of surprises, obstacles, or challenges that have popped up in my marriage, the same sorts of challenges pop up and test your other commitments as well. The question is, “What are you committed to?” What does the way you use your time and resources suggest you are committed to?
To be fully committed it requires:
Knowing what you committed to do. That includes following through with the commitments you made to your spouse way back when or the thing you said you would do last week to your boss. In either case, you have no way of knowing exactly what that will entail. That’s the heart of commitment – continuing to push in that direction regardless of what you encounter along the way.
Be careful what you commit to do. Almost every week I encounter someone who commits to doing something and then fails to follow through. That’s something people don’t forget and it has an impact on the level of trust you have with that person, even when what you committed to do is small. Make sure you know what you are committing to and that you follow through with what you said you would do.
In this era of instant gratification, many give up when circumstances get tough. When you are committed, you will see challenges and obstacles as invitations to apply innovation and get creative. Failures become a chance to learn, grow, and keep on going! You’ll seek out the help you need – a coach, a mentor, or an expert. And staying focused isn’t an issue because you won’t allow yourself to get distracted. You will read books, learn from others, and experiment, but you won’t give up! Whatever it takes – that’s what you do!
Sometimes doing what it takes is not easy and requires giving up something you’d rather not give up. After all, there are only so many things you can be committed to, right? If you want to have a healthy marriage and thriving family, it may have an impact on your work. If you have a personal goal you are committed to, you may have to skip activities you like but that prevent you from achieving your goal.
Sacrifice might mean waiting, letting go, or doing something that doesn’t come naturally to you, or is hard. Sacrifice pinches – there’s pain. And if you can endure the pain you have a chance of sticking to your commitments. Success!
Without a hedge of protection around whatever you are committed to it will be vulnerable. That hedge of protection: your boundaries. What boundaries do you need to have in place to protect what you’re committed to?
It’s hard to be successful when you lone ranger it! That’s why it’s important to surround yourself with others who will support your marriage, family, work, goals, etc. People who care about you and can hold you accountable to your commitments. That might be a small group, business mastermind, or a coach, depending on what you are committed to.
When you start thinking about what you are committed to, it’s possible to come up with a long list! That’s when it’s time to sort through your commitments and determine what your priorities are. The hard fact is that sometimes your commitments are actually in opposition to each other. Eliminating your competing commitments ensures you will be successful in keeping the ones that are most important.
In this season of life, what are you committed to?