Monday, March 10, 2014

Your Word

Recently, I came across a quote on commitment which reminded me of another one I had read, many, many years ago, that impacted my life. The recent one was:
"Commitment means staying loyal to what you said you were going to do, long after the mood you said it in has left you."
It sounds great, very strong, however it left me with a feeling of ambiguity. It does not convey the whole message.  The stress on caution was missing. In the spur of a moment, caught up by a wave of emotion, we may commit to something without even giving it a thought. What are we committing to? The reference to "the mood" is ambiguous. The mood could have been anything: frivolous, drunken, even just a dare or vicious, or bitter, or vengeful. What message is it conveying exactly? To a narrow mind, a narrow perception this message could be misleading. Before we make a commitment; a promise, we must be careful before we give our word. The message above seems to justify any commitment, made in any "mood." While commitments must be kept, it is important to know what we are committing to. Is it violating our value system? Is it going against the law of the land? Is it the right thing?   

The value of commitment was written on my heart when I was a ten year old. It was the year my father decided to put in his papers and take an early retirement from the Navy, to devote his time wholly to the Lord's service. After the formal send off by his department, daddy was invited by the Chief of Staff, Admiral B S Soman, to a private dinner at his home. My elder sister promptly gave daddy her autograph book for the Chief's autograph. The Chief obliged with these wonderful words of caution and wisdom:
"There is nothing more valuable than your word, so be careful."
I read it. I re-read it. I liked it. It sounded profound. I didn't get it. 

It was too profound for my limited intelligence in this area. So, as always, I had to ask daddy. And, as always, he sat me down and explained it to me, supporting it with biblical reference too. I nodded, it made sense but I still needed to think more about it. I mulled over it and then so many other matters of change occurred in my life, I had no time to ponder over such things as my word. But, neither the words nor the lesson was lost on me. I remembered. It was embedded on my heart. This small sentence with a huge message has stayed with me ever since; has nudged me, poked me, stabbed me so many times during the years of growing. If I thought I had learned it good I had another thought coming. Some lessons have to be learned and re-learned as long as it takes to get it. Even today, it kicks me hard, especially when I find myself caught in a maddening situation of honoring a commitment foolishly made.

It is better, any day, to say an emphatic 'no' (or a mild one) but a definite NO, rather than lie outright, or make lame excuses, or give outrageous, ridiculous reasons to wiggle out of keeping your word. 

Would you like to be known by the commitments you never kept? I guess not. So be careful who or what you are committing to.


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