Time and again it happens. A promise is made, but not kept. Our word is given, then later broken. Raised hopes fall. Perhaps this time it was really no big deal, just a small thing. Perhaps it’s always just a small thing. But the pain accumulates. It carves out an aching, hollow space of echoing disappointment in the heart when a parent, a spouse, a friend — someone we dearly love and desperately long to trust — is consistently disloyal. I have experienced this bitter ache more often than I care to count.
Looking beyond the many reasons used as justification, the long trail of broken promises paints a much bigger picture. It shows us that we were put last when perhaps we should have been first. It leaves us feeling wholly unvalued, as though we were simply not worth the effort to love — not even worth the time it takes to jot down a quick reminder of a promise made (an easy way to at least eliminate the “I forgot” excuse).
Wouldn’t it be better for us to at least say “I’ll try” rather than make a promise that we may not keep? Shouldn’t we humbly say “God willing” rather than foolishly promise something outside of our control?
It would seem that some souls just will not, or perhaps can not, make room enough to keep us in their heart for very long. Out of sight, out of mind. This has been my painful experience. To me, that does not represent quality love. Love’s strength is revealed through the consistency in the keeping of our commitments, the tirelessness of our dedication, the selflessness of our actions. Love is always a choice — sometimes a hard one.
How much more do we feel loved when, even during difficult circumstances, someone puts forth the effort and keeps their word to us? The greater the personal sacrifice, the more valued we feel. Isn’t that always the truth?
Did you know that God wants us to keep our word, no matter what the cost? (Psalm 15:4) He could always make it easy, you know. But when He allows it to be hard, I would venture that it’s a test, to see if we will force ourselves to keep it, to see how much our heart reflects that of His son. (1 John 2:5) Jesus always keeps His every promise.
And when we are on the receiving end of a broken word, and feel that bitter ache, I would say, that too is a test. Though it’s never wrong to give voice to our disappointment and ask for better next time, will we then be forgiving? Will we then be long-suffering and not give up? Will we realize that this very ache must be what Jesus feels whenever we break our word to Him? Yet, isn’t He always forgiving and long-suffering and never gives up on us?
In the bible, God gives us many commands. Do this. Do that. Don’t do this. Don’t do that. Perhaps we should not be so quick to always answer “Yes Lord.” (James 5:12) But rather, we should carefully consider our weaknesses and humbly say “I’ll try, but I need Your help,” and then simply do our best. In this way, we keep our word to God. In this way, we remain loyal to the truth.