I had the honor of officiating a wedding recently. It was lovely, and witnessing the ceremony was a reminder of how significant this particular activity is. I also see how applicable it is to other parts of our lives. Yes, it applies in the union of two people in holy matrimony … and… to the many ways in which we commit ourselves throughout our lifetime.
For example, it is common to hear, “That person is married to their job.” This usually indicates an extreme focus on work, sometimes to the exclusion of most everything and everyone else. However, I want to suggest that this statement is also indicative of the “union” we make whenever we say “I Do.” It can be applied to anything – a person, job, hobby, goal, whatever.
This is not to downplay the importance of the wedding ceremony, which is a holy sacrament. I consider marriage one of the most special and empowering things we can do, when done with the right intention and effort. And, if we look at external life experiences as symbolic of things internally significant – principles to be attained, qualities to be strengthened, habits and patterns to be done or undone, for example – then we can most certainly apply the symbolism of marriage to other areas.
Commitment provides a playing field in which to explore. Any promise we make sets limits, boundaries within which we must operate or else we then break that promise. In making a promise, we give our (little s) self over to something greater, which allows an opportunity for the growth of the (Big S) Self.
What are the things to be gained from our commitments? Let’s look at a few.
- How many people resolve to diet every January 1? Qualities needed to reach a goal like this are: discipline, determination, patience, persistence, and steadfastness, to name a few.
- What principles can be strengthened when we say “yes” to a new job or promotion? Leadership, creativity, courage, reliability, responsibility, helpfulness, confidence, industriousness, organization, and aspiration.
- And the promise of marriage? Done well, we develop such things as compassion, generosity, humility, respect, self-containment, loyalty, flexibility, adaptability, harmony, devotion, and cooperation.
Our problems lie in letting our commitments go bad. How does that happen? We break our promises when we practice the opposite of the virtues listed above. For example:
- Diet: instead of discipline, we express impatience. Instead of determination and steadfastness, we give in, give up, and rationalize.
- Job: instead of leadership, there is pride, greed, aggressiveness, laziness, and lack of cooperation.
- Marriage: such things as selfishness, control, indifference, resentment, rigidity, drama, and unfaithfulness.
We gain wisdom only through experiences that nourish the soul. We can’t read about it or dream about it and expect to grow. How you live your life determines whether you experience pain and suffering -or- serenity, power, freedom, and growth.
Expressing the virtues brings joy; living the vices brings hardship. Virtues strengthen; vices weaken. When you don’t live into and up to your commitments, or when you’re not even willing to make them in the first place, you weaken your Self.
Ultimately, the most important commitment we make is to Divine Order, to God’s Will. In keeping with that, we are meant to develop ourselves into our greatest potential and to share our light with others. Our commitments, promises, and “I Dos” are a human expression of that higher connection, and as such they help us fulfill on that supreme promise.