Recently at a workshop in Michigan, I bumped into a young woman whom I knew when I was chaplain at her high school. She told me that she has been looking for someone online, so I took advantage to pick her brain about themes I could write about for young adults in her situation. After a minute of thinking, she came up with an idea: the fear of commitment. I asked her for more insight. “Well” she said, “I would really like to find someone, but when I do and I begin to suspect this might be the one, I really get scared at the thought of losing my freedom.”
Does this sound familiar? She was afraid to commit and “give up” her apparent freedom. There is a fear in everyone to commit, but we can only find our true self when we commit to love. What’s the point of filling our hearts up with things or the illusion of independence when that only produces a hazy depression within the heart which seeks to love another person in marriage? The freedom she refers to is make-believe because we are made to love and be loved and that’s where true freedom resides.
Individualism is “all about me” and “what’s in it for me”. If that is the case when approaching a relationship, it’s doomed from the get-go. Culture proposes individualism as the path to happiness with a reward waiting around the corner. “Doing it my way” doesn’t lead to lasting joy and fulfillment, but ultimately to frustration from an empty heart.
The Sacred Heart of Jesus is our model for true and lasting love. He loved us to the end (Jn 13:1). The more he loved, the more he committed. When he was tired, he stayed up all night to heal and comfort people (Lk 4:40). When he was hungry, he continued to work and his relatives thought he was out of his mind (Mk3:21). Just before his agony in the garden, he told his apostles that he wanted his love to remain in them (Jn 15:10). You see, he demonstrates love by serving; he didn’t come to be served (Mk 10:45).
So upon entering a relationship, of course make sure there are compatibility and common interests. But realize that you are committing to love that person; you are choosing to serve him or her and their needs. To some, that may sound restricting, but it’s the path to joy and fulfillment.