This pair of photos represents what can happen when there is long-term commitment and engagement in________ (you fill in the blank). When truly involved in something long-term, an investment in made. We seem to understand this when it comes to buying a house, getting involved in the markets, and yes for some…getting married. But this understanding doesn’t seem to carry over to community life, community activities…neighborhood/local teams and sports, bands, churches, schools, scouts, theatre, etc.
Some high school kids get “involved” in a dozen activities at a time with the thought that this will look good on college applications. Yet how engaged can a student be in so many activities AND do well with schoolwork at the same time? Simply having one’s name on a roster or list is not being engaged or invested. And the parents often get sucked into that line of thinking too.
Bobbing from one activity to the next and having hundreds of Facebook “friends” is not being engaged with and invested in activities, causes, and people. There are so many options to choose from when it comes to giving our time, energy, and other resources. And of course trying new things, meeting new people, and exploring all the world has to offer are good things to do.
But don’t we need at least that one thing to really sink our teeth into, set roots into? Of which to REALLY be an active member…an invested, engaged member? Of course that’s a bit scary and brings many unknowns. Is there a price? As in anything of value…yes. It can bring frustration, anger, and sadness too, which given enough time, it probably will. But such a commitment will probably also bring with it much joy, love, and extended family.
Being on the perimeter of an activity is hard, being there physically but not really being fully invested can be lonely, awkward. Where have you passed on an invitation to jump into the chaos of a commitment? When should you have extended an invitation to someone on the edge? The return on being fully invested in something is hard to measure. Stay long enough and you may see the circle completed.
So what are the stories behind these photos? Years of commitment, engagement, and involvement in scouting, a small church, and dance. The result? An Eagle project that brought two different groups together to make it happen. And a group outing to see a favorite ballerina dance for the first time, that is repeated 14 years later with many of the same people, as the circle is formed.
THAT is what happens when a commitment is made to be truly engaged in an activity, to be truly invested by getting hands dirty, rolling up sleeves, and sticking with it through the fun moments and the not-so-fun ones. Does being engaged and involved mean being in charge? Not at all, just be present, truly present. Start small if you wish, but be a participant not just an observer.
What are you going to commit to? What are you going to get really engaged with? Where are you going to get really invested? It’s a new year…jump in, come be one of the monkeys in the circus!