Antonio Zebedeo Abad
We’ve all been there. We’re enchanted by the thought of something we wish for, then after the honeymoon is over, we realize that it’s more work than we thought it would be. We dream of a big yard, and later dread the maintenance it takes. We dream of acquiring a boat and realize that it takes time and work to get it in and out of the water, clean the hull, keep it maintained, and actually use it often so it doesn’t deteriorate and it would be worth, oh, the insurance, too. We didn’t think about that. We dream of having a big dog only to realize that they need a lot of space at home, in the vehicle, eat a lot, and have big poops, too. And when the kid couldn’t take care of it, guess who gets to? We dream of owning an excellent restaurant, and years later, all that hard work required daily, weekly, monthly, yearly can become very wearisome to the point of desperation.
As Frank Sinatra sings, we bite off more than we can chew. Didn’t Western Washington have an unheard-of drought this year? They say it always rains in Seattle, get an umbrella. Well, we know we rarely use umbrellas here. We had to water the lawn so much during the drought, it increased the water bill. At least, we were allowed to water the lawn, unlike in California. The grass was spoiled like a golf course. We then realized we had to mow the lawn more. We fertilize it to make it green and grow, only to mow it more. Sometimes, work creates more work.
In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus Christ delivers the Parable of the Talents. Much more is expected from those who were given more. It is called stewardship. Our family had many talents that we offered to our church community as the kids were growing up. Many times, it became overwhelming. We had to discern each commitment to make good on it. For example, singing in a church choir requires attending rehearsals. Attending rehearsals requires practicing your part beforehand and being ready to bring the music together, not to learn the song in rehearsal.
Photographing a wedding requires planning, preparation, chronicling the event, editing the images, processing, developing, presenting to the couple, assembling the final package, and delivery. There is much more to it than the already big event. When the computer crashes, we need to have ensured that backups are being made and tested. When we restore the software on the new computer, it may no longer work with the updated system. And the new version of the software is now on subscription, so you evaluate switching to another software. You then have to learn new software.
This is why our family started a Commitment Evaluation discussion. Our thought pattern goes like this. Why am I committing to this? To serve, but why? Because the community needs it. Why? Are there others who can more readily fulfill that service? Is this congruent with my goals? Is this in support of significant persons in my life, such as my children who want to do this? Will this distract from my other goals and commitments? How important is this commitment in relation to my other goals and commitments?
How much work will it be? What do you anticipate will come out of the planning? Do I have the time and energy to prepare for this? What things are needed ahead of time? What training will I need to fulfill the commitment?
What action is required to finally fulfill the commitment? Are there more tasks after the event itself, like developing the digital negatives of the images? What needs to be finally delivered and when?
There are so many things to consider even for some seemingly small commitments. Sometimes, the American dream becomes an American nightmare. We just really need to make sure we have what it takes to complete what we started. As Jesus Christ taught in Luke 14:28, “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?”
When the honeymoon is over, that’s when the work really starts. And persistence in that work is what love is, a labor of love. For love is not just what many think it is, an emotional enchantment. We hear the expression, “I just love that rhubarb cheesecake. It’s to die for.” Granted, it’s a commonly exaggerated United States expression, but how can you love an inanimate object? Love is an action verb. We do things out of love, and the action spreads more love around.