How to Love Others With No Record of Wrongs

Originally published Monday, 14 October 2013.

Lately, if clutching to grudges was an Olympic sport, I think I'd take home the gold medal.

It must be the weather. Virginia Beach has been plagued with enough rain this week to raise wonder if we should start building arks and welcoming pairs of animals on board. Or maybe it's the fact that I'm not in school anymore and that I'm searching for something to spend my free time doing.

Part of my begrudging, Olympian training comes in the form of asking myself the deadliest sentence in the whole world. Consisting of three haunting words:

But, what if...?

Those three words are devastating to life. At least, they are to me. But, what if they are to you, too?

You see, I'm a recovering commitment-phobe.

I don't like making plans too far in advance (what if I feel tired that night, or something better comes along?). I don't like signing leases (what if I'm trapped in an apartment for a whole year, but my life circumstances change drastically?). I don't like having dreams for the future (what if I'm disappointed in their outcome, or I fail at achieving them?).

I didn't like being in relationships, or being in deep friendships (what if they hurt me?).

My defense mechanism for being plagued by the but what if? Playing the victim. Getting mad and avoiding making plans altogether.

Because you can't get hurt if you're not committed to anything. Right?

It's not like this attitude is unwarranted. Since I'm a champ at holding onto grudges, it makes it really easy to remember why I shouldn't commit myself to taking things too seriously. I've been let down before:

The ballet studio where I spent nearly all of my time in during my elementary, middle and high school careers began rejecting me for senior roles.

People of a church I used to be a member of began treating me differently after I committed to the congregation. I was just another lost lamb returning to the herd.

The writing I pour myself into sometimes doesn't feel like it gives me much in return.

A good girlfriend left and packed her bags with two weeks notice. Replying with an "I know," to my heart-felt "I'll miss you."

Another has been too swarmed by her own love story to notice the hurt in the lives of others.

And then I totally fail, too. I fail in my commitments to paying my bills on time. To following through on lunch plans and tennis dates. To volunteering when I said I would, or bringing dinner to a friend in need.

It makes me wonder why we even bother loving and committing to one another, because it just seems that we let each other down time after time after time...

I realized tonight that I've been keeping a roster of wrongdoings with the people I love lately. That's crazy. It needs to stop.

Christ totally never did that.

'll be the first to throw up my hands and yell, "I'M NOT CHRIST." And then neglect to even try. But, I don't want to be a part of a generation of people scared to commit to others. Scared too much by the "but, what if" to even try to keep my promises.

How do we learn to love others without keeping records of wrongs? And how do we keep our promises to them, even when it hurts and even when they don't keep their promises to us?

I think there will always be a "but what if" in our lives.

We will each let someone down every day. Because we're not perfect. Because we're finite. Because we're selfish and rude and proud. And, I'm learning that most of the time, I encompass everything that 1 Corinthians 13:4–8 says that love is not.

I'm easily angered (take a ride with me in the car).

I dishonor others.

I've been keeping a record of wrongs.

But, what if each of us reaches the end of our lives and have nothing that we've harvested with our own two hands? What if, at the end of our days, we're alone because we've listed a daily record of wrongs?

What if we live consistently committing to nothing, not even to lunch dates and signing leases? Can we truly say that we are committed to Christ?

What if tonight was a chance to change? What if it was an invitation to make a commitment to loving others and abolishing the record of wrongs you've kept tied around your wrist?

What if that's where love actually began?

I'm going to challenge myself to make one commitment this week and keep it with no exception. Even if it means inconveniencing myself. Even if it means saying "no" to a better offer. I'll challenge you all to do the same. Let me know what you commit to do in the comments below! It can be a lunch date with a friend you keep canceling on. It could be a phone call to a friend who you've been meaning to call. Do it. No ifs, ands or but, what ifs!