"Lack of loyalty is one of the major causes of failure in every walk of life."Napolean Hill, American Author 1883-1970
I've been thinking about what it means to be loyal. Though simply defined as "a feeling of devotion, duty, or attachment to somebody or something," I don't think it is always particularly easy to be loyal.
When God tested Job's loyalty by letting Satan take everything and everyone from Job, Job remains loyal. Then Ruth speaks powerfully moving words of loyalty to Naomi, "wherever you go I will go; your people will be my people, your God my God." Think of Huck Finn's profound loyalty to the faithful Joe, Romeo and Juliet's fatal loyalty to one another, and Carrie Bradshaw's devoted loyalty to her gal pals. I'll never forget our lab's desperate loyalty to Joe; in her weakened state in the minutes before she died, she still tried to get up and come to him when he called her.
To the contrary, movies and literature also present the consequences of disloyalty. Saul is disloyal to God and loses a kingdom, Othello's disloyalty to his wife leads to her death, and Robert Bruce's disloyalty to his countrymen shatters a nation.
Napolean Hill got it right, I think. Lack of loyalty causes failure.
I inhabit a circle of warrior women. My warriors are easily characterized: strong, wise, and loyal. The circle of warriors is large; I once believed no one friend could handle all the messiness in my life, so I shared only one trauma or drama with each of them until I was no longer capable of that kind of compartmentalization.
I have been across the table from each of my warriors at times discussing the things women discuss: husbands, children, jobs, education, politics, religion... There was never a warrior sitting across from me who would not have welcomed my husband to the table. There was never a warrior sitting across from me who asked me to keep a secret from my husband. There was never a warrior sitting across the table from me that will no longer be there a decade from now. These are Best Friends Forever kind of people.
I once made a serious mistake with a friend. I put my relationship with her before my relationship with Joe. She was the first person I called about the joys and despairs of my daily life and I was the first person she called. We were so close and I was so emotionally replete during the relationship, I often forgot to share the events of my daily life with Joe. I was more loyal to her than I was to him, and the intimacy of that relationship was not good for my marriage. I won't make the same mistake again.
I read a short article on the Marriage Moments website about marital loyalty. The article is intended for couples experiencing parenthood and the stresses that come with new babies, but there is a clear explanation of what loyalty means in marriage. I particulaly like this line: "Are you your spouse's first critic or first champion?"
Joe's always my champion. I try really hard to always be his too.
What's been on my mind is not the marriage though; it's about loyalty to others. Where does it begin? Where should it end?
I suppose I'll be thinking about the answers to those questions for awhile.