AWAKENING TO RELATIONSHIPS: COMMITMENT, Part 4

“‘I will always love you,’ means nothing unless the mind is fearlessly aligned with the heart.  It takes the courage of a warrior to make and to keep a vow of love.”    www.lovedovetarot.com

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Have you ever committed to a love relationship, friendship, or profession?  What is at the core of your choice not to commit to something you actually want?  Do you feel that if you commit to someone you will lose your freedom and you value that above all else?

For the last three weeks, I’ve been writing about what I feel are the most important elements in any relationship: empathy, intimacy, integrity, and commitment.  Today, I’m writing about commitment, and although it’s a major issue in love relationships, I believe it’s also very important in many areas of life.

Developing Any Skill Requires Commitment

In my late teens, I realized I wanted to be a modern dancer and knew that the sporadic classes I’d taken were not enough.  At that point, I had to commit to daily classes to develop my skills, and when I had to miss a class, I worked out by myself.

When I moved to Washington, DC, I had to travel into the city and committed to taking daily classes no matter what.  In fact, I even found a high school teaching job where I didn’t start teaching until 11:00 am so that I could take a class every morning.  It was this commitment that made it possible for me to develop the technique and skill to be good enough to eventually dance with a company.

In cases like this or in developing skills, commitment to training allows us to fulfill our goals and desires.  The problem is that this isn’t always easy, and when things get hard, many people give up so that they never feel a sense of accomplishment.  The discipline feels too confining.  However, if we want to feel good about ourselves, we have to be committed to being the persons we want to be and be willing to search for what we need and practice that skill in our lives.

Spiritual Practices Require Commitment to Learn

I grew up in a family that was very emotionally reactive, and so I modeled that behavior for many years.  At some point, though, I realized that behavior wasn’t working well for me, and I thought meditation might help me find a more peaceful way to be.  I was right, but it took some time and commitment to reach a point where I could center myself in the midst of an argument or difficult situation.  Just learning to feel peaceful when I was meditating wasn’t enough.

Meaningful Relationships Require Commitment

Perhaps the most complex situation where we make a commitment is in a relationship because it isn’t about just disciplining ourselves to do something we want to do.  There is another person whose well-being we must consider.  This is also true of friendships because to sustain a long term friendship, we need to practice empathy, integrity, and intimacy.  Parents also have to be committed to their children and help them develop as happy and whole individuals and not abandon them when they are most difficult.

In Loving Relationships We Can Grow and Expand

With a divorce rate at over 50% in this country, it appears commitment between adult partners is quite challenging.  I would venture to guess that all those relationships lack at least one of the elements I consider important.  They are all essential in creating a loving relationship that is healthy and meaningful, and a good relationship can be one of the best places to grow and expand who we are and our ability to love.  That takes time.  No matter how much we think we know someone, when we marry or move in together, the dynamic may change and require adjustments.  That is why being truly committed to make the relationship work is really important.  It takes time to grow together and deepen the love between two people.

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To Love Requires A Fearless Mind

It also takes more than love to create a successful relationship.  “‘I will always love you,’ means nothing unless the mind is fearlessly aligned with the heart.”  I love this quote because it points out that we have to make decisions that come from the heart and release the fears that arise and block our thinking.  When life becomes difficult, we can always find reasons to run away, but if we are committed and mature, we take responsibility for doing what we can to solve problems and move forward in a positive way. We find the courage of the warrior.

When we fear we will lose our freedom by being in a relationship, what we really fear is that we will lose our sense of self if we merge too much with another, and if we don’t love ourselves, we may fear we aren’t capable of being loved.  I was once with a man who loved me very much, but he seemed ashamed of his love because his concept of masculinity was that a man who needed a woman was weak.  In his need to be masculine, he made selfish choices and felt bad about them, but refused to change his behavior.

Good Relationships Grow With Time

But it is possible to be in a relationship where we become more of who we are with someone we love, for love opens and expands us.  I see the beauty of long term commitment in the relationships that some of my married friends have who have been together for 30 years.  They have not been diminished by commitment.  Their love has grown and expanded.  They have had the freedom to be who they are and follow their interests because they love each other for who they truly are.  They have all had to make adjustments and changes, but in the end, it has been worth it to have loving partners who are deeply committed to them to share the joys and sorrows of life.

You have To Know And Love Yourself First

But here’s what I think is the key.  If you know who you are and are confident, freedom isn’t such an issue because knowing who you are gives you great inner freedom and you won’t make choices that violate your integrity.  You have to first trust yourself before you can trust someone else.  Trusting and knowing yourself means you’ll make a better choice in choosing a partner and you won’t settle for less than what you need.  You’ll choose someone with whom you can grow and expand and have mutual respect.

I think Timothy Keller sums it up in this statement:  “To be loved, but not known is comforting but superficial.  To be known and not loved is our greatest fear.  But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, is a lot like being loved by God.  It is what we need more than anything.  It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”  And so it is.

What have been your experiences with commitment?  Please Comment.

© 2013 Georganne Spruce                                                                      ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Heart to Heart: The Importance of Freedom and Commitment in Intimate RelationshipsRelationship Problems: CommitmentDo You Have a Fear of Commitment

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