Updated: Aug 10, 2022
Psst, I want to share a secret with you! Have you ever had a difficult time making a decision to commit yourself to someone and then keeping that commitment? I know I sure have! But in the midst of that difficulty, I learned one of my most important life lessons about the strength and security that is forged in our relationships when we express a full-fledged commitment to each other.
There are many different types of commitments that we make throughout our lives. Commitments to friends, family, church, jobs, children, and even goals that we set for ourselves.
When we commit ourselves to a job or occupation, there are benefits that are very visible. We get a paycheck, and as long as we continue to show up to work, and do our job well, we won’t get fired, we can continue to eat, keep a roof over our heads, pay our bills and enjoy some extracurricular activities that bring some laughter and fun. As an added bonus, when we are using our God-given gifts and talents, our job will be something we will really love to do.
The majority of parents are committed to their children. Most parents desire to raise their families up to be loving, kind, respectful, compassionate, and hard-working, and if the parents know and follow Jesus Christ, they will usually be committed to teaching their kids about Him, and desiring that they will come to know and follow Him as well.
For me and I suspect for you too, one of the most significant commitments that we will likely make in our lives is to a spouse, second to the commitment we hopefully make to Jesus Christ. And once you have made that commitment it will be one the hardest ones to keep. I speak from experience.
I don’t know about you, maybe your relationship with your spouse or partner has been easy, and full of nothing but joy, but somehow I think that if you have been together for any length of time, you have had to put a lot of time and effort, and a ton of forgiveness, into making that relationship work. Especially the forgiveness part! Someone once told us, Marc and I, that putting 50/50 into a relationship just won’t cut it. If each willingly puts in 100%, the relationship will not just survive, it will thrive.
When Marc and I chose to say “I do” at the altar, there was a deep, intimate commitment made, although we had started off in an ungodly way. Both of us had been in several other relationships, Marc had been married before, and neither of us was following Christ at the time we got together. Yet when we got married, in my mind it was “Until death do us part.” When I said those words in my marriage vows, I absolutely meant it. Divorce was never an option for me. When Marc came to know and began to follow Christ, in his mind a second divorce was no longer an option for him either.
Marc and I had a difficult journey, to say the least. You all can attest to that, talking to my kids here, and others that walked alongside us through the years. But the one thing that saw us through all the fights, a blended family, financial struggles, and all the various highs and lows is the fact that we made a commitment that we fully meant to keep. That is not to say that there were not times when one or both of us wanted to run in the other direction, and I know that there was at least once that like that old “Meatloaf” song, I was praying for the end of time, and I am sure Marc prayed that even more than I did. But when the dust of a set of difficult days, umm weeks, and even sometimes months settled, we stayed committed. It was never easy but committed we stayed.
We were still committed to making our marriage better right up until our last few years together, which were actually the best! Why? Because we began doing more things together. Our focus changed more towards each other. We went on a few trips together where we concentrated on our relationship, making it grow. We started to really get to know each other! We became more intimate on purpose! Cancer has a way of making you realize that maybe there isn’t all the time in the world and making each day count really is important!
Unfortunately in this day and age, many make vows or commitments they feel they no longer need to keep. If the other person no longer pleases them, or they start arguing, or the commitment they made was made hastily without thinking it all the way through, and they think they must have made a mistake, and so they let go of the relationship and the commitment becomes meaningless and is discarded. So many things in this world work overtime to pull people apart and bring to ruin families and relationships, commitments that were once made in earnest. Maybe you don’t believe there is a devil, but I do, and he comes to steal, kill and destroy. He wants to ruin relationships, especially our relationship with God if we have one, and He works overtime to keep us from entering into that vital, forever life-altering relationship with Jesus Christ. He wants to destroy families, especially the husband and wife relationship because this relationship is supposed to represent Christ and His Church (all those who have trusted Christ for salvation). I so desire that you might see and know the incredible difference that making, stating as a surety, and keeping that commitment can make! I just want to add here that making that commitment to each other as believers in Christ as His church is equally as important! Even when we don’t always agree. We are still called to be devoted to each other and love one another.
I have learned that when you ensure that the other person knows that you are truly committed, and you choose to love, even when the feelings aren’t there, it provides a comfortable assurance in the relationship that makes you feel safe. If you are never sure that the other person is going to stick it out, stay put, and stay with you, there is a tension and pressure that is so strong that it creates more fights and arguments, and ultimately divides your relationship. Interestingly enough, I remember Marc saying after he came to know Jesus as his Saviour, “I will never have to walk through divorce again.” Somehow he equated both of us having a relationship with the one who said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you”, with the fact that we would never leave or forsake each other, as His followers.
How hard can it get? Well, on one particular day, after a horrendous fight, where I had felt so betrayed, I thought “I can’t come back from this!” I actually took one of our wedding pictures out of its frame and tore it up. I left the house and went down to the waterfront in Crofton and stood by the water crying out to the Lord, bitterly complaining about this person I was married to. I was so ready to call it quits! But I heard deep in my spirit, not audibly, but definitely, the Holy Spirit speaking to me, saying, “Go home and love your husband”. Certainly not what I was expecting, but it was clear! When I shared those words with Marc that night, with great difficulty I might add, I believe he cried. I was so humbled by that whole experience.
Unfortunately, I didn’t always show that love! Life was far from easy together but because of the commitment we had made there was the knowledge that no matter how bad things got, we would stay put, and be there for each other, and we would not give up. Even though at one point we needed to have a short time of separation, it was with the intent that once we sought help and some necessary changes were made, we would come together again. Indeed the Lord carried us through and gave us the want to when we didn’t have it.
We have raised eight amazing kids, and I am so proud of them! They are kind, generous, compassionate, hard-working, and forgiving. They love their families and their significant others! We can’t take complete credit for the first two as they both had other parents that were more involved than we were. Frankly, we can’t take credit for any of it! One of the things that Marc would often pray was, “Lord make up for our inadequacies.” We made a lot of mistakes during their formative years and set some pretty bad examples, well maybe a few good ones too, but God has certainly answered that particular prayer! They are in turn raising our incredibly, wonderful Grandkids! And doing a great job!
At one point in our marriage, we were receiving some family counselling and the fellow who was counselling us said something to the effect, “Even though you have had some really difficult times and been through some pretty tough situations, I do see a lot of love!”
I was, and am so grateful for those words! Yes, there was a lot of love and a lot of forgiveness! "Thank you Lord! We would not have made it without you!
I do regret that I did not show more grace and joy throughout the years and that I too often allowed my then present circumstances to drive my emotions rather than putting all my faith in God’s promises, and resting completely in Him. I am so thankful for God’s grace and forgiveness in this. Don't get me wrong, I had a lot of faith, but at times it stopped short and I didn't leave those I loved in His hands, thinking that somehow it was up to me to push them in the direction that I thought they should go. That has never worked out very well, believe me.
Prayerfully, mercifully, each one of my children, grandchildren, and their children will believe on Christ for salvation, follow Him, have eternal life and one day enjoy the benefits of a new heaven and new earth restored to what they were meant to be prior to sin entering the world. A place where there will be no more sin, pain, suffering, or death and where we will be with Jesus our Saviour, together forever. Marc, (Dad & Papa) are waiting for us to join him one day. Honestly, this commitment to Jesus Christ is the one that will make keeping all the other commitments in our lives possible!
As I said, commitment is hard! It is grueling at times, but it is absolutely, totally worth it! So whether it is our spouse, our kids, our grandkids, friends or our church family, let's let them know that we are all in, not out, no matter what comes our way! I know we won’t ever regret it if we make known our commitment to each other! With a full-fledged commitment, our relationships have a chance to thrive not just survive!