Lately I've been struck anew by the ever increasing disposable nature of our culture. Not just the obvious excess of material consumerism, but our short-lived relationships with people, places, and work.
We have become a culture obsessed with getting our needs met, and while there is of course nothing wrong with identifying a need and satiating it, this growing over-emphasis on self is quite the opposite of sustained devotion to something outside of ourselves. The “me” culture seems to be growing more and more entrenched, and true steadfastness, particularly when it costs us something, is frequently becoming an outdated hallmark of the past.
The ability (or lack thereof) to be unwavering reveals itself most readily in times of crisis. Whether in the face of turbulence in our environment or community, in personal relationships or at work, committing deeply to someone, something, or somewhere is a rare commodity. Oftentimes our first response to a dire situation is, well, it must be time to leave. I will exit for greener pastures. Change is the only constant, right?
What would happen if instead, we tried looking at storms and times of hardship as opportunities to lower our anchor and settle in? How would this shift our very experience of the storm itself, as well as our perception of our own ability to embody perseverance and longevity?
There is a beauty to devotion that the world misses. When we choose to be unwavering, a stability enters our lives, callings, and relationships that brings with it many gifts. But we too often sell short the riches that emerge from longevity. We confuse consistent dedication with being limited, stuck, or trapped ~ instead of ~ embodied, rooted, and strong.
Another way of saying this is to value not giving up. A plant that is constantly being transferred from one pot to the next will never let its roots grow down completely and reach its full size. If change is all it ever knows, its growth will remain stunted.
My parents recently celebrated 52 years of marriage. For the past decade, my mom has lived with Parkinson’s and is now in steep decline. I visited this summer and cherished the time I had, as it may be the last time I see her before she passes. Throughout the ups and downs of life, their union has been a depiction of steadfast love lived out unconditionally over decades. This carries significance in an era where hardship thwarts the slightest of intentions.
So if nothing else, these words are intended to raise a banner for a return to the kind of commitment that signifies an ability to stick with life, even when it’s hard. It is a call to value longevity of presence (to a place, thing, calling, or person) as much as we value change and newness.
We must learn to let our hearts root down in whatever soil we find ourselves, for only then will we get to witness the full expansion of its yet unrealized potential. Only then will we glimpse the jewels that surface 10, 20, or 30 miles down the road of any pursuit, and are not visible in the first few steps.
In the midst of storms, the lure of change is but one side of the proverbial coin. Let’s not miss the oft overlooked flip side of letting our roots grow deep...and experiencing the gains that only come from an unwavering devotion.