“Commitment means staying loyal to what you said you were going to do, long after the mood you said it in has left you.” – Orebela Gbenga
I went for a run today for the first time in nine days. It went pretty well. I ran 5.6 miles, slowly, but with very little pain. This is the longest I have run since the disaster marathon almost six weeks ago.
I have resigned myself to the fact that my upcoming Marine Corps Marathon will be mostly a walk. I considered bailing out of the race. MCM has a liberal deferment policy and allows bib transfers, unlike most other races. I just couldn’t do it, though.
I asked my doctor if she thought the long walk would exacerbate my injury, and she said no, so I decided to press on with my plan. I have seven hours to finish, and I believe I will need most, if not all of that time. After seven hours, runners are required to board straggler buses and will not be considered official finishers.
I signed up for MCM with a lot of anticipation and exhilaration. I was registered to run it with my hubby years ago but came down with the flu right before the race. Bill wound up running it by himself, then came down with the same illness the day after the marathon. To say I was disappointed by not getting to run the Marine Corps Marathon is an understatement. This year, I wanted vindication.
The hope and excitement of signing up for the marathon six months ago have long since worn off. My commitment to doing the race matters to no one but me, but it matters to me.
There have been notable times in my life when I have bailed out on something significant, and I am not proud of them. After receiving logistical, emotional, and financial support from my parents to complete four years of college and receive a teaching degree, I taught for one year and hated it.
I didn’t enjoy the students, made few friends among my colleagues, and did not respect my administrators. I went back to waiting on tables, a job I held throughout college. I made good money, in fact, more than I made teaching, but it felt like a defeat, as if I was letting myself and those who loved me down.
My parents never reproached me, in fact, they never made me feel bad about my decision in any way. They just wanted me to be happy. It was truly a “prodigal daughter” situation.
In time, I had the opportunity to try substitute teaching, loved it, and the rest is history. I had a wonderful 31 additional years in education. Education didn’t change, the kids didn’t change, and my colleagues and administrators didn’t change. I changed, I grew up. I realized what it meant to make a commitment.
Maybe that’s what it means to be an adult – you understand the value of a commitment. You appreciate dedication, fidelity, devotion, and faithfulness more than instant gratification or facile solutions. You consign your whole heart to a cause, a person or an activity.
When we marry, we commit to one individual, but if we don’t understand what a commitment is, the marriage license is a worthless piece of paper, able to be undone at the first sign of trouble.
We jump into relationships in a rush of excitement and hope (and hormones). If we never get to know the person we are connected to, we make life-changing decisions such as where to live, how to handle finances, and whether to have children with a virtual stranger. If our commitment and loyalty are shaky, we jump ship when tribulations arrive (and they will arrive at some point).
Commitment precludes us from making excuses and enables us to make things happen. Commitments are powerful. They affect everything about our demeanor. If you are truly committed, quitting is not an option. You do everything in your power to solve the problems that are preventing you from reaching your goal. The temptation will always be there to take the easy way out, don’t get me wrong, but commitment allows us to persevere when we feel like quitting.
Here is the tricky part: we can’t commit to everything. We have to figure out which people, ideals, and activities are really important to us, and only commit to them. We have to allow things of lesser importance to slide on by. This has been illustrated to me over and over again since leaving my teaching career.
I have had so many well-meaning friends and acquaintances offer me opportunities now that I am no longer working full-time. I have been offered the position of youth activities coordinator at church, teaching positions at local colleges and private schools, volunteer possibilities, and more. I have had to sift through all of the thoughtful offers and determine which ones I can truly commit to.
This has been tough for me to do. My natural inclination is to answer a question that begins with “Do you want to…?” with an immediate “Yes!” I have learned the value of my commitment, however, so I force myself to be discerning.
I am slowly learning the lesson from 1 Thessalonians “But test everything; hold fast to what is good.” I am holding fast to my goal of completing the Marine Corps Marathon. I have made my commitment.
So. What is it that you are committed to? Which goals are non-negotiable to you? Who or what is truly worthy of your dedication and effort? What are you holding fast to?
I am linking up with Char at Trekking Thru, Abounding Grace for Gracefull Tuesday, Patty, Erika and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run, Shank You Very Much for her Dream Team, Eclectic Evelyn for her Words on Wednesday, Shelbee on the Edge for Spread the Kindness, Holley Gerth for Coffee for Your Heart, Running on Happy, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs for the Coaches’ Corner linkup, Nicole and Annmarie for Wild Workout Wednesday, Worth Beyond Rubies for her link up, Jessica and Amy at Live Life Well, Susan B Mead for Dancing With Jesus, Crystal Twaddell for Fresh Market Friday, Spiritual Sundays for Welcome, and Meghan Weyerbacher for Tea and Word.