It’s that time of year again when everything turns red and we are bombarded with messaging telling us that the key to happiness is a box of chocolates or a bouquet of flowers from the person we love.
Of course, if happiness had a physical manifestation, I couldn’t imagine it BEING anything other than chocolate and flowers, so I’ll let Consumerism have this one.
Being single, I’d love to jump on the ‘I hate Valentine’s Day’ train, but that would be a lie. I love Val’s day. While all the red and pink does kind of make my head spin, I do not remotely hate the idea of having a day where someone I love goes out of their way to treat me extra special. I am actually a sucker for chocolate – and don’t even get me started on flowers. I love all the mushy, gushy, emo stuff (though you’d probably never guess it lol). I know there will be a thousand and one ‘Why I don’t believe in Val’s Day’ posts out there today, telling you that you should treat your significant other special every single day of the year, but we all know that is not realistically possible. We are all human, and we drop the ball. Val’s Day is simply a bonus day where you get to make up for all the times you did drop the ball and do something out-of-the-ordinary for a loved one. So yay for Val’s Day!
But I digress.
This post isn’t really about Valentine’s Day. It’s about commitment – or rather the fear of it. I’m writing this post for all the Commitment-Phobes out there who have been condemned for their fears.
I’m writing to tell you that your fears may very well be legitimate.
Hello. My name is Eudora, and I am a Commitment-Phobe.
This is quite a statement coming from a former serial relationshipist (yes, it’s a thing), but hear me out. We are so quick to bash people for not wanting to or hesitating to commit to anything or anyone, but I think a huge issue we face as young people these days is actually that we don’t have a fear of commitment.
Now, let me take a moment to clarify what I’m saying here, because there are different kinds of fear. There’s irrational fear – fear of the unknown. This is the kind of fear that has no real reasoning behind it and cripples you before you can even make a move in any good direction. It is the fear the enemy uses to stop you from achieving God’s purpose for you and to keep you tied to things that are unhealthy for you.
That’s not the kind of fear I’m talking about.
The kind of fear I’m talking about is rational fear – the kind that keeps you from sticking an arm into the lion’s cage at the zoo. It is the kind of fear we have for God – a reverence in light of the majesty of His very being. It’s this kind of fear that keeps you grounded and keeps you from getting into messes beyond your control. It’s a healthy fear. A fear that stems from love – of self, of others, and of God. And I kinda think we’ve lost it when it comes to relationships. In a world where we’re willing to commit to anything that looks good, walks good, or talks good, and our potential lists are filled with superficial qualities, I think we’ve lost that reverence for what it means to be in a committed relationship.
Have you ever stopped to fathom the gravity of what it is to commit to someone? To choose someone to spend the rest of your life with? It is not something you do in the spur of a moment, and yet so many of us treat it like a game of tag. “Eenie, Meenie, Miney, Mo – you’re it!”, and off we go! With absolutely no regard for what it actually means to give yourself to someone – for two to become one.
I really started thinking about this a couple days before I turned 26, when my dad hit me out of nowhere with the “Jesus can’t be your husband” speech lol. I have to say, my dad has never cared about my relationship status, but it really got me thinking, and I realized I am kinda scared of commitment – but in a completely rational way.
Think about this: Being the selfish beings that we are, we are wired to think about our needs and what we want in a relationship. We create all these wonderful lists of what we’re looking for – tall, built, man-bun, nice lips, financial security – but never for a moment look at ourselves and what we’re bringing to the table, both bad and good. Well, I think sometimes what commitment-phobia really is is introspection. Instead of looking to others and what they can give us, we look at ourselves and ask:
“Do I have what it takes to be in a relationship?”
“Would I be a good life partner to someone else in the state I’m in – Emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually, financially or any-other-lly?”
“Do I even meet my own standards?”
And a lot of times, if we’re being totally honest, the answer to all of these questions is no.
Our emotions are out of wack. We are selfish. Our finances are not in order. We are codependent on others. We are still reliant on our parents. We have no values or goals or vision. We are broken and scarred. We don’t even really know who we are as individuals. These are not things I think anyone wants to bring into a relationship – and yet so many of us end up doing so because we don’t have reverence for commitment. Yes, none of us will ever be perfect, and we all have our baggage that we are working on with ourselves and with God. And yes, there ARE some qualities that you will only ever learn from being tested in a relationship, but too often we jump into relationships trying to find someone to help us fix these broken things and weak areas instead of beginning to work them out with God, and end up dragging others into our mess. Divorce rates are higher than they’ve ever been and I think part of the reason is that we no longer revere marriage enough to not get into something before we’ve figured out if we are truly ready for it. We get into it thinking it’s just the next step up from dating – or even worse to legitimize sex – and never really stop to think about what we’re getting ourselves into, or getting someone else into.
We do not have a healthy fear of commitment – the kind that incites preparation.
Relationships are a big deal. Marriage is an even bigger deal. And it’s more than just making a decision to commit to someone – more than an ‘I Do’. It is work, and partnership, and selflessness, and self-sacrifice – and you are right to revere that and not jump into it before you are in the right space to do so. You are right to want to be as mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually and financially prepared for it as you could possibly ever be. Don’t let the culture of Justin Bieber ballads and box office hit romcoms fool you into believing otherwise.
So next time you meet a great girl or guy you like and find yourself upset because it seems like they’re afraid of commitment, take a moment to find out why that’s the case. Maybe they are working on themselves. Maybe they have certain goals or visions that they believe are not compatible with a relationship at this time. Maybe the trip they are going on in this season isn’t for two and want to save you the turmoil and themselves the drama. Or maybe they just respect and revere marriage enough that they want to make sure they’re making the right choice – the God-choice – instead of jumping into something that simply feels good. Cut them some slack and don’t take it so personal.
If you’re someone who identifies with me, then understand that you’re completely normal. It’s OK to want to enter a relationship only when you feel like you’re ready for one or find ‘the right one’ because you understand the gravity of a commitment and want not only to have a healthy commitment, but to honor your partner and God in it. It’s OK to want to work with God on all those qualities 1 Corinthians 13 and Proverbs 31 talk about before committing to someone for life. Three times Solomon tells us in his song:
Oh, let me warn you, sisters in Jerusalem:
Don’t excite love, don’t stir it up,
until the time is ripe—and you’re ready.
Song of Solomon 8:4, 3:5, 2:7 (MSG)
But a caution – one I have often given to myself: commitment is not something you will ever be 100% ready for. You’re never going to know what marriage is like until you’re actually married. You can cross all your Ts and dot all your Is and still end up stuck in a pothole along the way. You will never be perfect, and neither will they. At some point, you will have to trust that with God at the center of your relationship, you will be able to bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things.
Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant. It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured. It does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices with the truth [when right and truth prevail]. Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening].
1 Corinthians 13:4-7