Each month, a member of the board will share a reflection on the Soul Matters monthly theme and the state of the church. The theme for March is Commitment. This month’s post is offered by Shelley Buss.
There’s the old saying that if you want to know the difference between involvement and commitment, look no further than a breakfast of bacon and eggs; the chicken is involved while the pig is committed.
Commitments have substantial expectations built into them. Raising children, entering marriage, and prioritizing our health/well-being are common commitments we make in our immediate sphere. We’re constantly face to face with them every time we look in the mirror, or set the dinner table. We all start out with the best intentions, because who wants to break a commitment, right? It’s just that commitments get harder and harder to fulfill as time goes on, for as many reasons as there are days.
Using the analogy of a garden, the effort you put into watering your plot has a direct impact on what you grow. Yet you can do the work, and then a fluffle of bunnies finds your space, or lightning topples the neighbor’s tree in the middle of it all. Commitments aren’t impossible but they can be unpredictable. Commitments will be as meaningful as the basis upon which they are made. The strongest are based on the truths and values we hold closest to our hearts and minds, along with grace to allow space for our humanness. When we commit to something, we are recognizing the inherent value of it in our life and saying “yes” to it.
We all want our commitments to feel more like a gift; a vista of endless possibility and potential, yet there’s no denying they can also feel like chains and claustrophobia. The likely culprit of the discord is if the commitment doesn’t align to our values like we thought it did, or when another person is exercising their free will. And you know what, that’s actually ok. Life is going to happen, regardless of meticulous plans or the strongest of promises. I believe everything (good, bad and indifferent) comes into our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime. We all change over time, even the truths and values we hold dearest, and keeping commitments in an exhausting and ever changing world is definitely a challenge.
So what about outside our home? What about our commitments to our community and beyond? Things can sure get more challenging when what you’re accountable to isn’t in your immediate sphere. Are the values and truths inside strong enough to push us past a response of not rocking the boat and without personal repercussions? We’re a few weeks away from the anniversary of our first “two week” shut down for Covid-19. Three months from the anniversary of George Floyd being brazenly murdered by Minneapolis police on a warm Spring afternoon. Two months removed from a failed coup put in motion by the sitting president of the United States. We can choose to look the other way and expect others to take care of the problems at hand, but I kinda think that’s what got us to the point of the dumpster fire that was the last 12 months. This has been a pivotal year that seared us with memories we’ll never forget, and which will likely move us to live more from a place of love, compassion and concern or lock us tighter into fear and mistrust.
Having the vote last weekend to make a public and visible statement that black lives matter is a tangible commitment to our first principle. Expanding the Social Justice ministry with subgroups for homelessness, racial justice and environmental justice is a tangible commitment to our sixth principle. Going more green by fundraising for and installing solar panels is a tangible commitment to our seventh principle. This is all leading with light. There are lessons learned from all the steps we’ve taken, and while our paths have not been straight or perfect, motion is progress. Here’s to greater progress and promise from the commitments we’ve made together in our congregation.
— Shelley Buss
Member, UUCM Board of Trustees