I’m not sure there is anything more frustrating than a promise broken. This week I was on the receiving end of one and it has been revolving around in my mind over and over again. Like a record (does anyone remember records?) that has a scratch on it and the needle keeps skipping over the same place; there is no getting passed it until you pick up the needle and move it further along on the record. My problem is that I can’t seem to find the “needle” in my brain to move past this scratch.
This particular promise is not a life-changing issue. I’m sure the issuer of said promise made it with the best of intentions. I’m equally sure life got in the way of the promise being carried out. But let me just tell you – it has REALLY bothered me. Like an inordinate amount of angst over something that, in the scheme of things, really doesn’t matter. Nothing truly bad has happened to me because this promise was not fulfilled. I haven’t lost money or health or a life experience because this person failed to “live up to their end of the bargain”. So I’ve kept telling myself to just build a bridge and get over it!
I don’t seem to be able to, however, and so I’ve now begun to think why on earth this issue is bothering me so much. I mean, I am human and as a human I am sure I have made my share of promises that I have not kept. I definitely hope I am on the receiving end of more grace than I have been giving (in my own mind of course, I would never put words to these feelings – well unless I do it on a publicly posted blog post) to this person. So, why can’t I just let it go?
In a word – deflection.
I am currently the breaker of a promise and it is easier for me to condemn a broken promise to me than to keep the promise I am currently breaking. Anyone follow that particular rabbit hole of logic? If so, you are definitely my people!
So, here it is – my confession time – I am a promise breaker – to my CHILD no less. I am so ashamed. Mortified really, because I was taught better. I can remember a lot of lectures from my parents about making promises. If you grew up in a Bible-believing home, I’m sure you had Ecclesiastes 5:5 quoted to you many times when you promised to always clean your room or be nice to your sibling or to never, ever go somewhere you were told not to.
It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it
Ecclesiastes 5:5 (NIV)
Unlike many of the lessons I grew up learning, that one definitely was deeply planted. And so I’ve tried to keep promises I make or just not make them at all. I’ve not always been successful, but when I do break a promise, I hear this verse in my head all the while.
Until recently I can say with complete assurance that I have never, in all her 7 years, made a promise to my kid that I haven’t kept (probably because I refrain from promising her much, but still I feel the need to take credit for the 100% success rate in parenting where ever it may originate).
But my winning streak has come to an end.
What is this promise I made and have shamefully broken? Another dog. There it is. In black and white. I promised this child another animal when we moved out to the woods, and I have not kept the promise. Let the public shamming begin!
Truth be told, I don’t have any desire to keep this promise. I really have no idea why I made the promise in the first place. I think maybe I was having a moment of guilt over uprooting her to a new home with no neighbors and a new school. I probably thought that the promise of a new animal to love would ease the transition. Foolish, I know, but I was desperate to calm her worried little heart, and so I promised a dog.
Now, we already have a dog. He’s a good dog. He’s a nice dog. He’s a middle aged old man dog. But he is MY dog. He doesn’t really like Arden; truthfully he barely tolerates her. So, her reasons for wanting a new animal make sense – she wants an animal that likes her. I get it.
Can we all be honest here? The next dog isn’t going to like her either. Not because she isn’t likeable. Oh no, I have a thoroughly likeable child. She’s sweet and funny and loving. She’s great. But she is still at an age where she thinks that real live animals should act like stuffed animals. They should stay where you put them. They should play when you want them to play. They should enjoy having doll clothes shoved over their heads and legs. And you know what? THEY DON’T!
So, if I fulfill this promise, I know what will happen. The next dog will also become MY dog. I’m the one who will feed it; take it out in the middle of the night; make all of its vet and grooming appointments. I’m the one who will talk to it like it is my baby. I’m the one that will have to scoot even further to the edge of the bed to make room for not one, but two dogs in our bed – not because Terry isn’t there too but because this next dog will want to Velcro itself to me just like the current one.
If we get another dog and my predictions hold true, will I then have to promise another animal? What is next in our animal owning world??? A guinea pig? A rabbit? A cat? Heaven help me!
A fish. I might be able to get on board with a fish, but there is no way she is going to go for a fish. You can’t play with a fish and after awhile, starring at one just makes you sleepy.
I mean, we live in the woods for heaven’s sake – can’t the child just go outside and make friends with the birds or something?
So there it is, I’ve become the thing I most dreaded – a promise breaker. At the beginning of this post, I was hoping that by calling out my vow breaking, I would be inspired to turn from my wicked ways, repent and go out to the shelter to get this child another dog this afternoon. Yeah, that didn’t happen.
Or next week.
Or next year.
Pray for me, please! I DON’T WANT ANOTHER DOG!!!
See you soon!