What do promises and hearts have in common? They’re meant to be kept but always end up broken. –Unknown
Peter blurted out, ‘Even if everyone else is ashamed of you when things fall to pieces, I won’t be.’ Mark 14:29 (The Message)
We make promises with the very best of intentions, and convince ourselves that we have the power to keep them. Just think of poor Peter, who pledged his unfailing allegiance to his beloved Rabbi Jesus, even though Jesus warned Peter that he would not be able to keep his word. The events of life and the brokenness of our human condition often get in the way.
If we were good at keeping promises the divorce rate would be virtually zero, friendships would flourish, and corruption in government would not begin when the campaign trail ends. Yes, promises are easy to speak but difficult to keep.
This sad reality does not mean we should never make promises. It simply serves to remind us how important it is to consider carefully our words, our intentions, and the path down which our promises may lead us. We cannot predict the future because we live in the present.
Choose carefully the way you word a promise. Consider saying “I will do my best to . . .” or “It is my intention to . . .” or “You have my word that I will do everything in my power to honor this commitment . . .” Promises built on trust and experience are more likely to be lived out, rather than those hastily spouted on the waves of emotion or hope.
Thankfully, Jesus forgave Peter, and in the end this bold-speaking and sometimes rash disciple became the rock solid stone on which the fledgling Christian faith community formed. Perhaps we need to work not only on keeping our promises but also on forgiving those who make pledges to us and fail. We will fail. We are imperfect creatures in the process of being perfected–stones being tumbled, smoothed, and polished. We will grate against one another, but in the process the grit of our interactions has the potential to craft us into better versions of ourselves, into the people our Creator intends us to be.
Be careful what you promise to another sojourner on this earth. Choose your words and actions carefully. Forge relationships that will stand the test of time and failure. Finally, forgive as you would be forgiven.
I can’t promise you the moon, or the stars, or even the prospect of tomorrow, but I can promise you that I am grateful to be alive and to be walking this journey of thanks-living with you. Most importantly, I can promise you that God is faithful and loves you without reservation and for all time.
Thank you for the gift of your time and for sharing a part of your life, too.
Peace and blessing!