Once again, I’ve just pre-tested for a new belt rank in Karate. Just like last time, I have to complete a written test, part of which is a half page essay on a subject determined by the rank I am advancing to. For the next belt, the subject is ‘Loyalty.’
So, what is Loyalty?
Loyalty (n) – the state or quality of being loyal; characterized by or showing faithfulness to commitments, vows, allegiance, obligations, etc.
Characterized by faithfulness. Honoring your word and duty.
As a married man, I can understand the idea of being faithful to a vow. A surface-level comprehension of that comes pretty easily. I’ve made a life-long commitment to honor and protect my wife. I got that.
Now ask me about what that looks like in my everyday life. It’s one thing to understand it. It’s another thing to live it.
Can I claim that I’m honoring my wife if I’m not careful with my eyes, my thoughts, or my heart? Am I protecting her if any image or idea that could challenge her status is allowed to enter my home? I may not actually take an action, but is that good enough to be able to claim loyalty?
I don’t think so.
Loyalty and devotion lead to bravery. Bravery leads to the spirit of self-sacrifice. The spirit of self-sacrifice creates trust in the power of love.
I can’t claim loyalty if I’m not willing to engage in self-sacrifice, and force my personal identity to give way to the identity that I first committed to when I became her husband. That vow supersedes my wants or desires. The moment I claimed the title, I was no longer living for just me, not even inside my own head. So, I am only faithful to my wife if everything about me is subject to the review of what a husband should be, and anything that fails that review should be culled.
That’s true of every mantle I’ve assumed, every oath I’ve taken, and every obligation I’ve committed to:
Whether I’m at my home, my place of worship, my workplace, or standing on a street corner, faithfulness to the principles that those words represent are more important than any fleeting whims or serious plans I might have. Every decision I make and every action I take should first pass through those filters. Otherwise, how can I claim loyalty to any of them?
Believe me, there are days that I think I can’t, but each day is an opportunity to improve, and I’m thankful for grace.
The more I thought about this topic, the more things came up. What should you do when your loyalties conflict with each other? When is it alright to walk away from something you’ve committed yourself to? Is there ever a good reason to be loyal to a nation or flag? All more than I could cover in a half-page essay, but feel free to discuss it in the comments below.
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