Commitment is costly, cumbersome, and—so it seems—rapidly going out of fashion.
There are different types of commitment. From Peter’s brash and noisy “I never will” (Matt. 26:33) to Mary’s soft “May your word to me be fulfilled” (Luke 1:38), responses vary widely. We love to watch commitment on TV—remember the huge TV audiences of royal weddings á la Diana and Charles or Kate and William? There is something touching about public display of commitment: the long-awaited question popped on live TV; the old couple celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary and holding hands; the middle-aged son caring for his Alzheimer’s-ridden father. Commitment between two or more people connects all these stories of beginnings or endings—and everything in between.
Yet, while we love to watch we struggle to practice—at least that seems to be the message of the numbers tracking marriage and families in many countries around the world—including also the U.S.A. It’s one thing to enjoy the warm, mushy sensation of seeing people say “I do” and quite another thing to live “I do” verbally and nonverbally as we struggle to (barely) keep our families afloat. Lack of time, interest lost, thrill gone, nothing more to say to one another, or plain old selfishness are reasons given for this decline in warm and mushy commitment. Instead of a whispered “I love you,” we end with “I can’t handle this anymore—you always do ____________ ____________ [fill in the blanks]. I want out!”
For Bill Forward, “out” never seems to have been an option. Glad and Bill Forward, a couple living in Australia, help us glimpse a tiny bit of the depth of human commitment.* They have been married for 50 years, and Bill still calls his wife “my princess.” Yet, like many others, his sweetheart Glad is suffering from the debilitating effects of Alzheimer’s disease and is completely dependent on Bill’s care. As I watched Bill drive his sweetheart in a custom-built bicycle on long-cherished paths in their native Sunshine Coast, Australia, and listened to him telling the story of their love and commitment in three minutes, I wondered about commitment in our faith community.
Commitment covers the highs and lows of human life. It is not only reserved for the picture-perfect moments but shows its true face in the wilderness wanderings of our lives—the moment when we cannot see beyond the horizon and everything we can see is dark and ominous and painful. Commitment is part of the fabric of the Christian pilgrimage, and it often gets tested under severe circumstances. We cannot commit via remote control or en masse. Commitment involves a personal decision whose test of strength may come at different times to each one of us.
Commitment is not just an intellectual exercise or an emotional experience. True commitment involves a relationship that goes beyond logic, experience, and even feelings. It is a decision based on love. The Creator’s commitment to His creation can be seen in Jesus hanging on the cross. His tears over Jerusalem remind me of the depth of His commitment to His city and His people—and that’s not only a reference to Jerusalem and Israel. I love the way Bill Forward sums up his commitment to his wife of 50 years: “I count it a great privilege to care for the one that I’ve loved all these years and continue to love.” What about your commitment to the people around you, the church you love, and above all, the Savior whose love took Him right to the cross? n
* You can watch Glad and Bill’s inspiring story on YouTube at www.deseretnews.com/article/865573680/New-YouTube-video-features-50-year-love-story-of-Bill-and-Glad.html?pg=all.