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“Too many Christians have a commitment of convenience. They’ll stay faithful as long as it’s safe and doesn’t involve risk, rejection, or criticism. Instead of standing alone in the face of challenge or temptation, they check to see which way their friends are going.”    Charles Stanley

“When you encourage others, you in the process are encouraged because you’re making a commitment and difference in that person’s life. Encouragement really does make a difference.”    Zig Ziglar

“Love, above all things, is a commitment to your choice.” ―Rob Liano

“The truest form of love is how you behave toward someone, not how you feel about them.”― Steve Hal

Commitment always brings on the fear. Just the word will make most of us cringe. I think women as well as men, are nervous when they hear the word spoken. As much as I am a spontaneous person, and always willing to go along with someone’s agenda, I hate to be tied down to commitments of any kind. I even  end my doctors visits, upon receiving the card for my next appointment, with the words, “I’ll call and change it if I can’t make it.” I can’t remember many times I had to change it, but the  relief I feel, knowing I can switch it, is a stress reliever.

Because I spend a lot of time contemplating my feelings, and the emotions of others, I do think about why we all worry about commitments. Maybe it begins during childhood, when we have to clean up our room, or we don’t get to have a friend over, or we don’t go outside. Even adults recall the set times they had for homework, as well as the struggle to keep grades within the free of criticism zone, .

I get the feeling that obligations conjure  fear and worry that we might fail. As we  mature we are anxious about maintaining friendships, preserving bonds of love for our spouses and  marriages. Those vows  become even harder to maintain and the stress increases. Maybe that is the point of time we begin to mention the transgressions  of others, so that our own mistakes diminish. We convince ourselves, and attempt to convince others, that we are not really as bad as the folks over there.

Children are a natural add on and break the bank with stress. Now we really have to grow up and become an adult. I find that many times one is catching up on duties and responsibilities. We listen to others,  and get involved  with many activities, to ensure our kids will be pleased. There  is a lot of importance placed on their fitting in  with their peer groups. We turn to the media to discuss our problems, and receive more advice, than we could  ever have time  to read. It appears that as soon as one person hits upon an achievable and worthy solution, everyone  jumps on the wagon. We breathe a sigh of  relief feeling that the answer has been given. Of course there are times when nothing works for every situation.

When kids get into a predicament of any kind, we step back, reflect, and hope one of the solutions works. When it doesn’t, we must rethink. Now the stress which actually never left us in the  first place, renews itself and drags us down. I would venture to say that at this point we are discouraged and wondering what went wrong. We followed the  rules, and advice, to the best of our ability, and we took care of the kids and bills  etc.

Perhaps our spouse appears to have changed in numerous ways. When did this happen. Our kids seem ungrateful and disrespectful. Our parents are aging and  demanding. Our kids  are maturing and moving on, working or attending college. They hardly speak  to us. Now we are loaded down with responsibilities, which are the results of all of our obligations. We understand what promises  are,  what they mean, how they impact our lives, and why we hate them.

I can’t leave myself at this place, so I contemplate the  whole ball of wax, up to this time in my life. It was a surprise to discover, that all of it was the  result of my own expectations, and ideas regarding commitments. Promises are not chains to bind us, restrain us, force us to pay bills, or suffer consequences. Parents don’t have kids, so that they will be cared for in their old age. Marriages were never begun with a rule book, and consequences for failing to live up to expectations. Most of our vows or commitments were made out of love.

Now I am thinking what is the reality behind our lives, and how do we live, laugh, have fun, and find time for love. That almost  appears to be fantasy, but perhaps life is the way we see it. If we had absolutely nothing, the entire world would be a wonderful place, as long as  we  received love from others. Our hearts would be bursting  with pleasure and joy. We would feel care and empathy,  because the gift of love is without attachments. There is no necessity to repay. We perhaps keep our commitments to love, out of love and not force. It somehow makes pledges a pleasure to keep.

Basically,  by being more mindful of what we have, and what we receive, we increase our happiness. I suggest the importance of reflecting on what is right in our lives, and what is  precious and worth holding on to. Perhaps  we have forgotten the  real reasons our parents pressured us to study and do homework. They wanted us capable and ready to enjoy the world through our knowledge. Most likely a better job, or developing a talent, that would help us to survive in a difficult world, was high on their agendas.

I think when we fall in love, it provides us with the  profound feeling of worthiness. Another person convinces us that we are special, unique and worthy of love. Of course being spiritual beings should help us to be aware of all of that, but  somehow perhaps we lose the knowledge.  It can be rekindled, by someone who cares about us, and showers love upon us. We get so busy with our lives, we forget to nurture that fire of love. It is still there, but perhaps needs to be  rekindled, and stoked with compliments. Even children thrive on encouragement.

Kids are  awesome but they take our time, energy and love. Many times they take these precious gifts for granted. We accept the insults, because we love unconditionally and are loved unconditionally. As difficult as life can get, when we have kids, our life has great meaning. Raising kids is the most worthy, and powerful job, we will ever accomplish. We are sending our beloved children into the world, to spread more love. We have an awesome job. Love grows as it is given away.

Worry and fear make us dread sharing our friends. We believe they would prefer another over us. Deep down we must accept the truth, that we are worthy of another person’s love. If we believe this, then it allows our friendships to be free and opened. Releasing our bonds encompasses more individuals. Parents might unwittingly pit one sibling against another. Upon maturity we can consider the fact, especially if we are parents, that all kids are loveable. The pain and stress occurs, when parents compare their  children. Competition hinders the emotional security of children, and causes jealousies and rivalries to begin.

Marriages require attention. I don’t mean one must get  away for the weekend, although that might be nice. The small thoughtful gestures, and remarks, enhance the love. Money is not going to ever buy real love. Honest love must be cultivated, with emotional attachments of kindness through words and actions. Just being aware of someone’s hurt and pain, brings comfort to them. Being  mindful is important in marriage. If we are tuned into the one we love, we become concerned with emotional states and mannerisms.  It generates understanding from every movement. If we are too busy to notice the innuendos, love diminishes.

It is not always enough to simply say I love you, to parents, kids or spouses. Others must sense the faith in those words. This comes from paying attention to each other. When we have accomplished that, we will have improved all of our relationships in a deeper way. The stress, worry and fear, will dissipate somewhat, and the sense of contentment and security will strengthen. We might find we enjoy so much more, and our senses will become alive with the wonder of the surrounding world. Our lives may continue to be busy, but we will leave room  always, for the important things in  life, which are free.  Focus on love, serenity, and mindfulness, rather than commitments and obligations.

 “People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.” Thích Nhat Hạnh

“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”  Thich Nhat Hanh

“When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don’t blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will  grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and argument. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change”  Thích Nhất Hạnh

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