Sometimes I can’t imagine what you think when you read this. Actually I can never imagine what you think when you read this. What must it have been like to read my declaration a month ago that I had come to realize that only two people on earth were committed to me until death and no one I knew outside of those two people loved me more than their own career/physical safety. I wondered if it would seem offensive to the people who loved me for me to say such a thing. I premised the article with reassuring you that I am grateful for your love. Still the question has come up, “What do you mean by commitment? What about so-and-so? Aren’t they committed to you? Don’t they prove it by x,y and z?”
This week I thought I would take some time to talk to you about what I consider to be godly commitment. What would it look like for you to be committed to me? That could be a complicated question since I don’t know exactly who you are, and based on the people who have reached out to me, I have a very wide range of readers. But there are some universal truths that I believe about commitment and love that apply to all relationships no matter what role you play in my life.
The first is this: In order for me to believe you are committed to me, you must place my spiritual health and well-being above anything else in our relationship. Thus, our relationship doesn’t exist to make either of us primarily feel good, but its first function is that of helping the other person love and follow Christ better. If you do not want me to follow Christ more than you want me to spend time with you, I don’t consider you to be committed to me on any level. That is true whether you are a believer or unbeliever.
I have a fantastic example of this kind of commitment from my grandparents, who would much rather have me being active where He wants me in His kingdom than rocking next to them in a chair keeping them company as they grow old. Can serving God mean rocking next to people as they grow old? ABSOLUTELY. But greater love has no one than laying down one’s life for one’s friends. One of the ways they lay down their lives gladly for Him is not selfishly coveting the time of those around them who are reaching the world for Christ. That being said, I could stand rocking next to them as they grow old a lot more often!
Another thing I have pondered is that Christ must be the Mediator in all of my relationships. There are people I choose not to be in relationship with because the other party is not willing to have a Christ-centered relationship. They don’t want to base our relationship on His truth and His guidelines for what love and intimacy should look like. I generally choose to dial back intimacy in these relationships and sometimes step out of the relationship altogether.
I can’t be in close relationship with you if you are actively trying to get me to step away from Christ. This can look different in different situations. I have had “codependent” relationships with believers that I simply have had to step away from. I simply am not willing to be close to someone whom I have told I believe God wants me to spend my time doing x,y and z; but they still want me to spend more time with them than I can give them while doing x,y and z and become offended that I would choose investing in the people/ministry that He has asked me to invest in over hanging out with them simply for the pleasure of doing so. I need friends who want to be on the mission with me not who want to pull me away from the mission.
This can also happen with unbelievers. I am totally cool with being friends with people of any faith, but if you are actively trying to get me to believe in something other than Jesus or to step off the path of living a Christ-centered life, I am going to have to step out of close relationship with you.
Last but not least, I have become less and less willing to engage in relationships that are not based on reality. There was a time when I was willing to “fake it” and pretend like all our differences and all the damage in certain relationships hadn’t been done. I was willing to ignore sin and live in codependent relationships with people simply to get that emotional high we can get from relational intimacy with other human beings. I was willing to keep Christ out of the picture in order to emotionally feel good for a time. I am not willing to do that anymore.
Reconciliation requires confession and repentance. Confession and repentance require living in transparent, honest relationships where it is safe and wise to talk about pain we have inflicted on one another. Not to guilt the other person, but to set them free.
In order to be in a committed relationship with me you have to be able to engage my actual life and my actual person not some distorted reality of who you want me to be and who I will never be again because Jesus forever changed me from who I was and I shall never be that person again. It is eternally impossible to become who I used to be. I have been changed forever.
So those are a very few of my thoughts on commitment. Always feel free to say, “Hey Laura, but what about…?” There is only so much I can share in 800 words (which is my goal word count). There will almost always be different angles on what I share. There are some universally true statements that I can say well in one sentence, “Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world.” But when I am sharing a complex conversation of how I practically follow Christ, it can be hard to communicate well frankly.
Do you remain in close relationships with people whom you know want you to be in a deeper relationship with them more than they want you to be in a deeper relationship with Christ? What truth helps you set boundaries on intimacy in your relationships?