Monday, October 31, 2005


"There are some things in life, and they may be the most important things, that we cannot know by research or reflection, but only by committing ourselves. We must dare in order to know." -- J.H. Oldham, Life is Commitment (1953)

I really dig this quote. I like it even more now than I used to. I am in the home stretch of this book, Colossians Remixed, and the authors (a husband and wife, coincidentally) make this off hand point about one of the traits of post-modern thinking is a desire for keeping options open (being more non-committal than the average Joe) and seeing value in various points of view and various paths. It is a special comfort to the postmodern mind to have, and to keep, all options open. Postmodern or not, I could immediately see how that desire plays itself out in several areas of my life and thinking—most for the better, but some not: I tend look before (and during and after) I leap; I can see some good in just about anything (and am equally convinced there's some bad in most things, too); I am convinced that there are several sides to every story (perspective is a powerful, powerful thing); I am good at many things, but great at nothing; and I tend to think that there are several solutions to any problem. This desire also makes me hesitant about committing full-force to anything, and even if I do, my eyes are constantly noticing should-be exceptions to my commitment or other paths (perhaps with greener grass, or at least with grass that's different in some way that I should experience); so I easily justify jumping ship and making a change of plans.

Like I said, for the most part, I like these traits in me. But when I read this "keeping options open" in the book, I immediately thought of how certain things (like marriage, for instance) require a total commitment to do them well. Basically, I saw how, despite making a decision (that I am happy with) to choose Jesus as my source, first, foremost and always, there is part of me that immediately feels threatened by even writing that—as if I'm going to miss out on something by making a whatever-it-takes commitment to Jesus. I realize that I've tried to live this out without being truly willing to permanently close other sources. I really want to keep my options open on the other stuff that I think must literally make me happy.

Being faithful to Kim is pretty easy for me for several reasons—I dig being married to her; from before I proposed I've had a deep conviction about it (whereby I strongly believe that both God and I were in agreement about me marrying her); I'm excited about where I believe our relationship is headed; I'm convinced of the gut-wrenching pain and heart-sickness of any alternative; and I tend to see the forks in the road that lead to unfaithfulness and tend to keep the heck away from even the forks. But with my marriage to God I don’t have the same watchfulness or care or honor for the marriage. I think it's a lack of vision of the value of the relationship, now and in the future. (It sounds silly and sad saying it, but that's what it is.)

To be committed in a marriage-way requires a permanent and ongoing shaping of your life cycles for and with the other; it forecloses certain options and paths (indefinitely) in order to make all kinds of joint options possible. Ruby is a perfect example of the kind of "things" that are possible for Kim and I together. Just as important, if not more so, there are innumerable "options" for Kim and I to model and explain love to Ruby that have our healthy marriage as a necessary condition. Anyway, this is exactly the way it is with God. He is the source of every good thing. Our exclusive union with Jesus is a prerequisite to having all kinds of options open to us—the kind of options that actually matter, the ones that give life to us and others. (Apart from him we can do nothing, according to Jesus.) But marrying God is just like marrying anyone--at least regarding the kind of decisions that give appropriate honor to the other and lead to fruitfulness in the marriage. I need to embrace this reality again, and happily and eagerly give up whatever it costs to have this marriage and honor this person, Jesus. I really feel like a heel, the way I guess you should when you've devalued a person you've said you love.

++ Lord, help me love you, honor you, as you deserve. ++


Kyle said...

T, good stuff. I was reminded of our conversation where you told me to keep my marriage at the forefront of priorities. I will be working on that for a while.

Anonymous said...

This is interesting, and kind of the central organizing principle behind some stuff I've been assembling and thinking about for awhile.

I love how Chesterton puts it, about how a person who refuses to be bound will ultimately have no poetry in life.