Why Our Generation Can’t Commit and What You Can Do About It

The memory is engraved deep in my mind.

I was having gelato by the Trevi Fountain in Rome on a ten-day immersion trip with 15 of my fellow classmates and our professor. Our professor cared deeply for each one of us on the trip and knew us each personally. That evening he pulled me aside with a concerned look on his face.

One of the students on the trip had told us he was going to propose to his girlfriend during the trip — but with only two days left, there was still no ring on her finger. That student was my best friend.

Our professor asked me what was going on, so I shared with him the setbacks in my friend’s hopeful proposal attempts up to that point. Upon hearing that, our professor grabbed me by the shoulders (for a moment, I was worried I was about to be thrown in the fountain) and he started to shake me, exclaiming, “You must help him!”

Happily, I didn’t end up being thrown in the Trevi Fountain that night. I took my professor’s advice. I talked to my friend, and we came up with a plan during our free time the next afternoon for him to propose at St. Peter’s Square. And he did it!

A few years later, however, I came to a similar crossroads.

A friend of mine told me he knew the perfect woman for me. I had cold feet and didn’t want to put my heart on the line, so I made several excuses for why it wouldn’t work.

And then my friend looked me in the eye and challenged me: “Go for it.”

I was a little nervous at first, but what did I really have to lose? It’s easy to hide behind not saying yes to opportunities because we live a pretty comfortable life. Plus, we have so many opportunities, so if we miss this one, another will come along — right?

But through my friend, God was calling me to get out of myself and commit to putting my heart on the line. My friend’s challenge motivated me and a few weeks later, I made that small commitment. And I had my first date with the woman who is now my wife.

If I had never said that little yes to meeting her, if I had never put myself on the line, I wouldn’t know the joy that I have in my life now.

The problem my friend and I both faced was a serious case of FOMO: “fear of missing out.” If we committed, if we followed through, maybe we would miss something else. But what we would really be missing is the amazing relationships both of us have with our wives and families now. It is the daring spirit that finds love and happiness in this life. We can’t sit on the sidelines and expect to be fulfilled.

So, what can you do about it?

1. Fight the fear of commitment by making commitments — even if that starts with one little “yes” at a time.

These don’t necessarily need to be in relationships, but simply in the little decisions of each day. Do you keep your promises? Do you show up when you say you will? Are you faithful to your daily tasks? “He who is faithful in little things will be faithful in greater things as well” (Luke 16:10). Start being faithful in little things, and bit by bit you’ll be able to fight that fear of larger commitments.

2. Have standards, but stop waiting for perfection.

“God’s ways are not our ways, and his thoughts are not our thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8). We need to stop imagining the perfect relationship and start asking God to help us see the right person for us who will help us become saints. Relationships aren’t supposed to be self-seeking, but rather self-giving. It is in giving ourselves that we become who we are meant to be. Vatican II made it clear that “man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself” (Gaudium et Spes, 21).

3. Surround yourself with friends who challenge you and make you better.

If I didn’t have a friend in my life who was looking out for me and who challenged me to “go for it,” I would never have met my wife and experienced the happiness I now have in my life. Authentic friendship is a treasure. Authentic friendships will challenge us to give more and be in relationships that will make us the best version of ourselves.

Our world is in desperate need of men and women who live lives of total giving to one another in the sacrament of matrimony. We are in desperate need of bright and cheerful homes that radiate the love of Jesus Christ in the midst of our communities that have put family life to the side.

This requires your yes, your commitment, and your faithfulness. It requires you to “go for it.”

This is the revolution of courage and commitment that will transform the world.

Nathan Stanley
Nathan Stanley
Nathan Stanley is a writer, speaker and full-time staff member with FOCUS where he currently serves as the Sr. Director of Talent & Leadership Development. Nathan has provided training and catechesis on evangelization, discipleship, leadership, organizational culture and strategy to young people, parish staff, and clergy throughout the country. Nathan encountered Jesus Christ as a student at Benedictine College and became a FOCUS missionary upon his graduation in 2004. Nathan's passion for Christ and His Church is the foundation of his leadership. Nathan is dedicated to raising up the next generation of Catholic leaders for the Church and society. Nathan graduated magnum cum laude with a M.A. in Theology from the Augustine Institute. He married, Lauren, in 2010 and they live outside of Denver Colorado with their three children.

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