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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Honest Commitments

When did your dad promise a fishing trip, a ballgame or a graduation present and then fail to deliver?  How did that make you feel?  Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, p.1709.

The basic question is: How does one lovingly decline to disingenuously or profligately promise—to make empty promises?  The answer is in the question itself for one can never make empty promises when true, humble love is the engine of a relationship.  The ultimate source of insincere promises is self-love.  An empty promise is designed to bolster one’s own popularity and standing rather than to meet the most basic needs and desires of others.  Ironically, a sense of reliable security and foundational love is generated more from an honest acknowledgement of limitations than from a prideful inability to admit them. Telling others whatever in the short-term pleases them (or as the Bible says tickles their ears) when in fact uncertainly or infeasibility actually prevails will in the long run create resentment and cynicism, and even worse, bring into question the genuineness of one’s love and commitment.  As relationships with others should not include empty promises, neither should self-dialogue include them.  Making empty promises to oneself will in the long run undermine one’s self-concept.  A track record of realized commitments underwrites tenable self-confidence while a record of failed unrealistic commitments undercuts it. So, how should we respond when there is immense pressure to over-promise?  We should acknowledge the strong desires and wishes of others without pandering to them with empty promises.  One can say, for example, to a child who wants to go to Disney World when the family budget will not allow it: “We can’t afford it son, and I’m sorry, for I know how much a visit would mean to you.  Space Mountain would be totally awesome.  Maybe someday we can go depending on how good business is, but we just can’t now.”  How preferable this is to caving in to pressure and making a flippant promise to go in the summer, then reneging on that promise.  The first shows love of the son, the second shows a selfish desire to be popular and liked at the cost of respect, honesty, and even familial love itself. 

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