I Just Want You to Stay

Photo Credit: Evan Kaufmann

      I didn't know it at the time--my first 29 years of living, that I was a bonafide Commitment-Phobe.

     I couldn't see it at the time because I was spreading my self far too thin over the adventures of life that were meant to be had. I mean, you're only young once DANGIT.

     But busyness and movement can so beguilingly seduce you into believing that you've accomplished something, when in actuality, you've ended up in the same spot twice, by simply going around in a circle.

     However, the cycles and patterns of our lives are not meant to taunt us, but rather, they are meant to teach us--if we let them.

     So I had a short conversation with a young friend of mine. She admittedly struggled with making some day-to-day plans. The struggle was in letting her yes be yes and her no be no, in fear that she was tied to these choices, these small and seemingly frightening commitments.

     And that's us. That's this culture.

     Instant gratification, playing out in our minutiae of life as well as the over-all-scheme-of-things, dictating what we often expect and when, but know all to well that it is not the best version for us.

     And mix a fear of commitment with the need for instant gratification and you have an amazing cocktail of sorts.

     One that robs us out of the richness of a commitment fulfilled.

     And trust me, I can only say that now, after being on the other side of my commitment fear.

     Commitment doesn't usually happen in the blink of an eye, but rather through the gaze of a stare. Commitment involves time, and an outcome that you or I cannot fully control. And that usually scares the hell out of us. You know, not being in control...

     Look at how you view and respond to commitments in your life.

     If you can't, don't, or are afraid to follow through, simply ask yourself why. You'll be surprised at the answer. Are you too afraid to be honest and tell someone that you don't want to go to their party in fear of being forever rejected, because you feel some how unlovable at your core? P.S. You're NOT unlovable.

     Or are you afraid to say yes to her, because you've had your heart broken in the past and you're too afraid to risk it by putting your heart out there for another person.

     Or are you blasé about possible job opportunities because you don't want to be 'tied down' and fear getting stuck, rather than seeing it as a necessary stepping stone in your journey.

     When I got still and asked myself this question--the why, what came up was my raw fear of being abandoned. Because everybody leaves you eventually. No one stays together anyway. And people die.

     Yes. These phrases were the very foundation of my commitment phobia.

     And consequently, I had a hard time committing to long term things..ie: marriage.

     Believe it or not, I didn't always want to get married.

     No. You read that correctly.

     I didn't.

     But please believe that I wanted to have a many pool boy to fulfill my every sexual fantasy. So basically I wanted to have a man for sex and an occasional good laugh.

     But that was my way of hiding. Deep down, I longed for meaningful and long term connection, but was afraid to want it, because no one I had wanted, had ever wanted me in a long term way. So I figured, I'd shut that possibility down and save myself the pain and agony of disappointment.


     Somehow self preservation fails, even when you think you've won.


     But more so, there's something about loving God that makes you braver than you could ever be on your own.

     That's the long and short of it.

     And over the course of many years, some of which are documented on this blog (circa 2007) God made me brave, especially in the realm of love.

     In my heart I allowed myself to be fully committed to friendships, to people, to ministry, to my future boo in much deeper ways. And without trying beyond a simple 'yes' in my heart to those things, I began to experience the 'richness of a commitment fulfilled.'

Photo Credit: Evan Kaufmann
     Because what they don't tell you, is that you can experience joy in the act of committing and in the walking it out. It's such a powerful ordeal. I mean, you get to exercise your freedom of choice and choose and manage your own emotions through the process.

     With allowing our yes to be yes, our no to be no, and our commitments heartfelt, there is something that is steadied in us. I don't know how to fully explain it. But all that anxious and nervous energy that you are carrying, starts to chill the heck out. 

     I would say, that with commitments there's nothing to be afraid of. But I'd be lying. 

     If you are afraid of growth, character development, a deeper capacity to love and experience peace, being sexy and clearer perspective then you might want to stay away from commitment. I'm just saying.

     Sometimes choosing to follow through or stay when the circumstance warrants it, is often the hardest thing to do.

     But I was running around in circles.

     And no one could see it but God.

     And then He got me quiet and simply told me to stay.

     And that changed everything.

     Yes, by simply choosing to stay.

     And isn't that what we all want?

     Someone to stay with us. To hold us. To listen. To be involved for the long haul.

     But you see, none of this can be a stable and steady pursuit, if you aren't willing to be those very things for someone else and something else as well.

     So when I was 29 years old, I decided to get locs. For this reason: It would be an outward manifestation of the breaking of my commitment-phobe years. Yes. I would choose to keep my hair 'locked' up for at least 7 years.

(Mini backstory, I used to dye, fry, and cut my hair at least once every 2-3 months. So not fiddling with it for 7 years was kinda major for me! Plus, I always ruled out locs because I though I could never be committed to something for so long...)

     And here I am, almost 5 years in. And I've never looked at commitment in the same way since then.

     So maybe you and commitment are besties, maybe even play-cousins. And for that I commend you. Please tell me your secrets. Honestly. And yes, you most likely read this post for nothing.

     Or maybe you're like me. And you need to remind yourself that you are worth the commitment. And you are worth committing to and have the ability to commit and commit well.

     The act of 'locking' up my hair every month became a habit of commitment as well as a manifestation of my commitment. It started with hours that have now totaled a commitment worth years.

     But bottom line, I want to see us happy, full of life, and committed to those things that are truly meaningful in our lives. And as cliche as it sounds, it starts with small steps--starting with the small things in your life.

     I know it's about to be a new year. And if you even, sorta-kinda think that you have some commitment baggage in your life, I encourage you to step out and commit to something, to someone between now and January 24th (Yeah, I like to give ample time...plus New Year's would have been too predictable and this is not a resolution, but rather a life shift) that you will follow through on for 1 month, 6 months, or even a year! If you feel like sharing what it is in the comments below, please do so. But that's definitely not a requirement. I trust that you will wrestle this post out on your own and be open to commitment in a new area of your life.

     Solid ground affords you so much.

     These last 7 years of being a youth pastor, I've learned about the beauty and power of commitment, and how it changes everything.

     When I got the "Call", I felt SO inadequate, SO outside of my comfort level. And SO not ready. And God simply whispered this to my spirit:

     "I just need you to stay."

     And that was my big overriding instruction in molding the minds and spirits of the future leaders of the world.

     No light shows.  No great speeches. No mega church sized youth group service. No special frills.

     Just the ability to "stay".

     And I now know that God was preparing my heart all along.

     Allowing me to connect and watch over the same group of teenagers for 7 years and to see them grow, through the awkwardness of puberty and through sifting through dark shadows to find out who they really are. And leaving the nest to soar in this wide wide world.

     Through the welcoming and through the letting go.

     I chose commitment.

     And I have been better for it.

     I have been forever changed.

     Because I stayed.

     I allowed my heart to love, and I let love in.

     So with that said, never stop letting love in.

     Never stop letting love in.

Wisdom's Knocking:

"Now everyone dreams of a love faithful and true, 
But you and I know what this world can do. 
So let's make our steps clear so the other may see. 
And I'll wait for you...should I fall behind wait for me."

-Bruce Springsteen, "If I Should Fall Behind"