I got married a week ago.
It’s officially been 7 days since my husband and I gathered 30-some of the most important people in our lives, stared each other right in the face, and made our commitment to one another totally legit.
It was beautiful, fun, laid back, cozy, and totally natural. I had peace in my heart and a plate full of the most delicious smoked pulled pork (if you can, marry a foodie that can cook, like I did. 10/10 would recommend).
And I had some downtime today with the kids were napping to sort of reflect on some things. I do this often, it’s a habit of sorts, and I was thinking about some of the promises boys had made me in the past. And I was struck by how complex and outrageous some of these promises were.
If I’m totally honest, some of them I blame on this message fed to many millennials that grew up in the church the they’d all be extraordinary “world changers” and “adventurers” for Christ that had little to no context about how this could be applied to the mundane and ordinary lives 99.9% of us grew up to live. It made so many of us discontent visionaries. Many of my peers quick to dream up these grand ideas – we’ll all be Hillsongs, and Jeff Bethkes, and David Crowders – but not all of us will be.
And I think I really fell for it when I came into the Church as a young adult. I heard these promises of walking side by side in missions, ministry, and worship, and it was fantastic. I was new to the faith and on fire for Jesus. I was ready to go to work, and even more excited to have an intimate partner to do these grandiose things with, but much of it never came to pass.
What did come to pass was breaks in trust and a massive lack of faith in these people. It felt like waking up and forgetting where you were, because all of a sudden, this wasn’t what we said it would be.
But when I dove into the sea that led to my marriage, I was given one promise: that he’d care for me. He promised his love, his effort, and his time. Not because I asked for it, but because that’s what he was bringing to the table. In my heart, I knew that’s all I’d ever need and went head first.
It was really very simple. His promise was so simple. And he’s not let me down once yet.
And it got me thinking, that I’d read something about this before, and I found it buried in Ecclesiastes 5:
“It is better to promise nothing than to promise something and not be able to do it.” (v.5 NIV)
Most of this chapter is about making promises to God and not breaking them, because according to this passage, this could have some serious consequences (which, as a divorcee, has me very thankful for the grace offered to me through Jesus, amiright?). But it makes me think much about the promises we make to each other.
Why do we promise so much? In my experience, when empty promises are made, it leads to all kind of hurt and brokenness and death of many kinds.
I could say this to all kinds of Christian leaders and pastors, too, telling a bunch of starry eyed kids to expect “great” things out of their lives, and then only telling stories of people preaching or singing to thousands and traveling the world. You’re packaging fame and adventure as the best godly life, promising it to them like God made each of us for the same thing, and not preparing these young people to see the holy in the doing the dishes. But I digress.
Say one thing: exactly what you mean.
Promise one thing: only what you can deliver.
Tell the truth, and tell it all.
Don’t over-sell yourself or your relationship or your God. Tell it like it is and keep your promises simple. And then keep them.