As ever, my job keeps me thinking. Lately I've been thinking about promises. I don't know if I have anything particularly profound or new to offer on this topic, but a moment at yesterday's wedding struck me as deeply beautiful:
During his vows, the groom said to his wife, "I am marrying you today, but I made the choice to love you, to commit to you, to fight for you, to sacrifice for you, and to spend my life with you, a long time ago, at the beginning of us."
It got me thinking about how commitment actually shapes the nature of our love, actually directs the steps of our affection towards another. We don't just happen our way into marriages, into communities, into families, etc. Our wholeheartedness guides us there.
It's sort of the "what came first, chicken or the egg" conversation except I am proposing that Commitment comes before true, selfless Love. I think we see this in the way God loves us: He chooses us, and so He acts in love towards us. Cause and effect. Choice yields action.
Modern society offers a stark contrast to this equation, it goes something like this: Find someone worthy of your love, then after some time and consideration and calculation of weighing the cost/benefit of relationship with them, choose them.
Well, you've probably gathered this by now, but just in case, I call BS on that notion. I reject the idea that Love comes before Choice, and that our feelings of affection dictate our actions. Nothing about that sounds sustainable. What happens when the feeling waxes and wanes, as feelings inevitably do? We can't build promises on feelings. We build feelings on promises.
In fact I propose that Love is born in Choice. There is no love without first choosing. This, at its core, is why God gave us free will. Chew on that for a century or two, it's pretty mind blowing. After seven years, I currently have .001% of my mind wrapped around it.
CS Lewis once said, "When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.". It seems the decision to choose in with someone actually impacts the nature and quality of our love. When we start something half hearted, we are bound to be wavering in our love. When we our whole hearted, committed, "IN", it sets a precedent of love that lifetimes can rest upon.
Instead of hesitantly approaching someone (or a community of someones) to weigh the pros and cons of their worthiness of our love and time, what would happen if we chose in with our whole hearts? Sounds scary, I know. But that's the thing about being brave, it requires that you're a little bit scared first, or else what was really brave about your action?
Anyway, I think I'll try it.