In today’s episode, we’ll be diving into the topic of commitment—the second component of the rhythm section. We’ll talk about God’s commitment to us, our commitment to each other, and the joy of commitment. We’ll read our vows to each other and give examples of how we’ve both succeeded and also failed in keeping them.
007: The Rhythm of Marriage—Commitment, Part 01
Truly Equal is a marriage podcast created by Kyle and Christi Playford. Our goal is to talk about marriage from a fresh perspective. We tell stories about our lives, talk about how marriage is like a love song, and give practical solutions to the problems we've encountered.
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We are now moving into the second component of the rhythm section in our "Marriage as a Love Song" series. We decided to put commitment after love because we believe that out of love comes commitment. When people are "in love" they often say things like, "I want to be with you forever," or, "I'm never going to leave you!" Those statements are statements of commitment coming out of their love for the other person.
God's Commitment to Us
The Bible talks a lot about God making commitments, covenants, or promises to us. The old covenant is a commitment that God makes with his people Israel. He says that He will be their God, and they will be His people. The new covenant is a commitment that Jesus makes with us as described in Luke 22:20:
"After supper he took another cup of wine and said, 'This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.'"
The sign of this new covenant is the blood of Jesus, which was spilled when he died on the cross out of his love for humanity. Sacrificing yourself for another person out of your love for them is probably the biggest form of commitment. Jesus is saying, "I'm going to commit to you and give you the biggest gift I can, which is my entire life—my blood—for you." So God's love leads to God's commitment to us. And our commitment to each other stems from God's commitment to us.
On this day, our wedding day, I choose to make a covenant with you. I choose to make a binding agreement that finds its roots in the covenant God made to us. I choose to love you in the way of the Son, who lays down His life for the one He loves. His beloved is the church, and I vow today that you are my beloved. I covenant to love and pursue you unconditionally, with the same fierce love that motivated Jesus to pursue us.
On my own I could never make a similar commitment to you, but now with God’s help I commit to love you until death parts us. Without the example God gave us I would not know what true love is, but I do, and I choose to love you sacrificially the way Christ loves His church. I choose you, Christi Joy Peterson, to be my wife.
I promise to love you as I love myself. I promise to cherish and pursue you in all times. I promise to love you where you are but desire your spiritual growth at the same time. I promise to guide this family with you and never leave you until death parts us. I promise to be faithful to you. And I promise to ground my love for you in the love of God for me.
As I stand here today, I make a covenant with you before God, and in the presence of our family and friends. I promise to love and cherish you for as long as we live. This promise is a reflection of God’s love for us. He chose to love and give all of himself for us, even when we turned away from him and caused him pain. Because God has made a covenant to love me and forgive me even when I sin against him, I can make this covenant with you to love you and forgive you even when you hurt me.
So Kyle Playford, I, Christi Peterson, take you to be my husband. I choose to love and cherish you above all others until death parts us. I promise to put God before you, and you before everyone and everything else. I promise to show you patience and kindness. I promise not to insist on my own way, but instead give up my wants and desires for you. I promise to listen to you and not become irritable with you. I promise not to count up your wrongdoings, but to be quick to forgive you. I promise to speak truth to you and stay faithful to you. I promise these things through the best and worst of what is to come, and as long as we live.
Keeping and Breaking Our Commitments
We know that we can never keep our vows perfectly, but they are a goal that we're striving for. Ideally, this is the kind of love we want to have for each other. The following are a few examples where both Kyle and I have broken our vows to each other and also kept our vows to each other:
- A big part of love is listening to the person you love. Throughout the past two and a half years that we've been married, there have been times where Kyle has not listened to me as he knows he can and should.
- One time at church, Kyle knocked over an empty thermos and it clattered to the floor during confession. After this mishap, he beat himself up about it and continued to replay it in his head and beat himself up more and more throughout the day. He was not loving himself. Instead, he was loathing himself. Because of this, he couldn't love me.
- At the beginning of our marriage, Kyle used to get impatient with me if I wasn't ready on time for whatever we were going to do. But early on he recognized this, and now he is patient with me and gives me the space I need to get ready. He's no longer concerned about what time we get to a place.
- Kyle will call me every day on his lunch break to say hi and talk about how things are going. At first when he called me, he used to say, "Hey! What's up?" One time I told him that when he says that, I have no idea how to respond and I get all awkward. So he asked me what he could say instead that would make me feel less awkward. I told him that I would feel better if he said, "Hey! How's it going?" or, "Hey! How are you?" So he listened to me, and shows me love by not asking me, "What's up?" anymore.
- I vowed not to insist on my own way. However, when we were first married, Kyle had loaded the dishwasher the "wrong" way. So I asked him if he could load it the "right" way next time. He pointed out that there was no "right" or "wrong" way to load a dishwasher, so couldn't we just each load it whichever way we want? I began insisting that my way was right and his was wrong. But after a long discussion, I realized that I was being selfish and that my way was not the "right" way. Now when Kyle loads the dishwasher, I notice it's different than how I would do it, but it's not wrong. I've learned that my way is not "right," and in this instance I've stopped insisting on my own way.
- I vowed to listen to Kyle and not be irritable with him. However, Kyle's pace of speaking is much slower than mine, so many times I would find myself being irritable with him for talking slower than me. So first of all I wasn't listening to him, and on top of that I was being irritable with him. When I realized this, I started asking myself why I was so irritable with him and why I wanted him to talk faster. The conclusion I came to was that I was being selfish and wanted him to talk like me (because again I thought my way was "right"). Once I recognized this, I started practicing patience during our conversations. I started listening to what Kyle was actually saying instead of how fast or slow he was saying it. And through that, I began to appreciate Kyle's way of speaking, and noticing the strengths of it.
The Joy of Commitment
After the first few months of marriage, you get a sense of the flaws in your spouse. It can be really difficult to see those and still feel like you're totally in love with that person. Instead, the tendency can be to focus on those flaws and realize how big they really are. That's when the commitment piece comes in. It's the foundation of saying, "Okay, I know this person isn't the greatest and best in all the areas that I thought they were, but I think they can change and I'm going to commit to seeing them through these things." Then, when you actually see them change and grow, there's a huge joy in that. Without that commitment, it can be easy to give up or check out when you start seeing the magnitude of the other person's flaws. But if you commit and stick with it long enough to see that change, it's so rewarding and exciting.
(This is part 1 of 2 on the topic of commitment within the rhythm section of our "Marriage as a Love Song" series. You can listen to part 2 here.)
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