Friday, March 12, 2010

Choose

I recently watched the movie Keeping the Faith.  The basic story is that a priest and a rabbi both fall in love with a girl from their childhood.  Obviously, priests don't get married, so falling in love was a real problem for the character in the movie.  He talks to a friend and mentor, a fellow priest, about his doubts.  He wonders what it means that he fell in love with a woman when he made a vow to God to remain single.  He wonders if he is really committed to being a priest.  He questions what he has always believed to be his calling.  The older priest reassures him.  He tells him that in the forty years he has been a priest, he has fallen in love probably once a decade.  Not to say that he acted on those feelings, but he had them all the same, and the potential was there.  He then makes a statement, which I thought to be profound, "You cannot make a real commitment unless you accept that it's a choice you keep making again and again and again."  I was struck by this nugget of truth embedded in a movie that, to be honest, managed to poorly represent both Judaism and Catholicism (just my opinion, of course). 

The old priest was speaking of a commitment to God, but I think it really applies to any commitment, and especially that of marriage.  It seems to me that in this day and age people are quick to make promises, but not so quick to keep them.  They say "forever", but they mean "for now." 

Let me just say that I am quite a romantic.  I love love stories.  I love the idea of having a soulmate and "true love" and all of that.  I love fairy tales.  But I also know that while love may initially begin with feelings, it continues with choice.  Many people don't realize they're choosing, but they are.  In the beginning it is easy to choose because all those new butterfly feelings of love and infatuation are there as a buffer against bad things.  As you go along though, life sort of beats that out of you, and you have to fight for those feelings.  You have to choose first and then feel, instead of the other way around.

I have always felt very strongly about marriage being a lifelong commitment.  Not temporary.  Not as long as I feel like it.  I made a promise and I intend to keep it.  Promises don't seem to mean much these days.  Promises are used as fancy words said to make other people feel good.  Then as soon as that promise becomes inconvenient, it suddenly becomes okay to break it.  After all, you have to do what makes you happy, right?  Wouldn't want to have to make a sacrifice for someone else.  Certainly not.  Wouldn't want to have to do anything that might require you to die to self (haven't I heard that somewhere before?)

So, bottom line:  choose.  Choose to keep your promises.  Choose to do what's right over what's convenient. 

Oh, and P.S. if you are reading this and having trouble in your marriage, for heaven's sake fight for it!  Don't just give up.  Just because it is hard doesn't mean it isn't worth it. The most valuable things, the things most worth having, are always the most costly to us.

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