Thought For The Week: The Importance of Obligation

Over the last few weeks I have been going to church a lot more.  In the coming weeks and months I hope to add the gym and the library to that as well – I’m at the library now, though most of today was spent thinking about this blog post and playing games on Facebook.  (I may just end up deleting that thing eventually!)

I set out this year with a couple of goals, one of which I was really disappointed in missing last week, which was church.  I made a promise to God last year to commit, and after the eventual breakup, I felt really abandoned – and that I abandoned my word to him.  (I apologize if this is the millionth time talking about it – much of what’s going on in my life right now is the direct result of those events having shaped some opinions and awakened some feelings and thoughts, that will make for heavy changes in my life.)  Going today was, in a way, a personal obligation.

While I will get to today’s sermon in a moment, I wanted to talk about obligations, discpline and how they tie into what we want for a moment.  I remember a conversation I had shortly before I moved to Oregon about why we did not go to church.  While I will respect my mom and not repeat what she said, I feel as though we missed out on the reason for going in the first place:  It is one of the prices we pay to enjoy life.

Have you ever seen a person who is fat but who goes to the gym every day and eats healthy?  Did they stay the same weight?  If they did, why?

Some people are unlucky, having some genetic or health-related problem to which weight loss is slower or more difficult.  What’s really unfortunate is that they’re probably lumped in (by people who should not judge) to the category most of us fall into:  they do something(s) to which throws all that discipline, that obligation out the window.  Sometimes it’s that tub of ice cream that one person ate, other times it’s not pushing yourself at the gym, etc.  Whatever it is, we jump off of our disciplines and obligations for one moment, and that moment throws everything out of whack, causing us to to not lose anything as a result.

Now, I’m not going to knock the person who jumps back on and continues to diet after having that smorgasboard at Old Country Buffet – a momentary lapse of weakness is nothing to be ashamed of, as long as you admit the wrong and get back to doing right.  My problem – and what I feel is the problem of many others – is that I fail to get back up.  It’s easier to put an excuse on whatever I did, to blame that for why not to continue, than it is to stick to my obligations and do what is right.

I look back at so many things in life, and how, just by doing what I should have done, things could have drastically been different.  The recent relationship breakup is a great example:  I stopped doing so many of those obligations that she felt unloved, possibly even hated and resented, by me.  She certainly lost her trust in me, and had no reason to believe things could work.

I also look back to the things I did right, how, during my first year in Choir, I was practicing my dance steps for our first show while I was on lunch break at McDonald’s, how, during the first year we were together, I was doing everything and going out of my way for her, and how before that I was disciplined to do the necessary chores.

To get back into habit, we have to make things an obligation, we have to both want to and force ourselves to do it.  That is the price we pay to make our lives easier in the end.

What the sermon was about today was in Delighting in God, and in it he talked about how some people do not make God or church a joy.  (I think his example of how some people go to church says it best:  they act like they have to be there, but have no joy in it.)  I think we need to apply this, not just to God, but to everything we do in life:  Work, Home, Love (our spouse/dates, kids), etc.

That said, we have to remember:  Love is a verb.  Work is a Verb.  We may not always enjoy it, but if we want to enjoy it later, we have to work towards it now.

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