Those words ring curiously in my mind… they sound young and yet knowing. How many times did I hear them or utter them on a playground with other little girls? They were magic words… words spoken to create a bind and to shew away the fear growing in our young hearts that someone might not be true or might hurt us. They were also uttered at times to ensure that some good thing we hoped for would actually come to be—like a trip to the Disney Store, or to get ice cream or to sled down the really big hill. “Do you promise?”
Do your daughters or sons still ask for your promise? Your nieces or nephews? I don’t know about you, but I am mindful that as we grow up, we seem to have little time for promises. By 10 or 12, we know better than to ask for a promise; we’ve been disappointed once or many, many times and we test others’ merit and watch them closely before entrusting our desires or sharing our fears. Our trust grows calculated and our interactions contractual, with unspoken rules and codes.
And life goes on. And it works… well enough. But something, I think, tends to go quiet inside of us when we cease to put hope in promises.
A promise says — I honor your request and pledge myself to fulfill it. You may count on my integrity. You may rest in my strength.
That sounds so wild to me! Such freedom becomes accessible with the speaking of a promise, and not the fickle freedom of playing children, but the unfettered, adventurous, faith-filled romping of men and women—“I have your promise? You will not cut and run? You will not mock? You will not judge? You will remain and accept me? Then by all means, here is my heart. Let us engage in something filled with tastes of heaven.”
Yes, that is what I want. But here is the rub— we have all decided that promises don’t belong in our grown-up world. They have grown cheap and disheartening through political rhetoric, subjective and foolish thanks to moral relativity, confused and non-binding. We don’t trust in promises anymore, and we are afraid.
And still… there is Jesus, whose very last recorded words were a promise that comes for us over and over and over again, day after day: “And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Lk 24:49). I love those words. They both give us a promise and call us to be a promise.
We are promised power from on high, the Comforter—He is with us and for us, speaking on our behalf before the throne and offering us strength, never leaving and always holding love and blessing for us.
And that is not all. Jesus promises that the Father’s name will be proclaimed in every nation. That is our job. We are the Father’s promise— we are His pledge to never leave one another. We are His grace to those who feel rejected and abandoned. We are his goodness, integrity and strength.
So my fear of receiving promises, my belief that I am unworthy or foolish to offer a promise to others, my choice to rely on myself rather than risk that you will love me well—that all flies directly in the face of the deepest calling and best gift I will ever know this side of heaven.
I want to make promises this year. And I want to receive them. I guess it all starts with receiving the Comforter’s promise.
And I want to start promising that I am coming with Jesus for the lonely. I am coming for the afraid. I am coming for those who have made choices they regret… who have borne pain, abuse and addiction. I have carried those weights. I promise, I am here and I am staying.
Katy Johnson lives, dreams, writes, and edits in a messy, watercolored world. She’s a 24 year old, discovering her hope, her longings, and the wild spaces in her own heart. Her favorite creative project right now is called The Someday Writings, and someday, she may let those writings see the light of day. For now, she is honored to be a part of Red Tent Living.
I wonder if we have lost the “depth and value” of our offered words – are our spoken words not held with integrity? Do we need to use the word “promise” – for our words to have honesty and commitment? Your words brought some deep thoughts for me this morning – thank you Katy – wise woman !
This is making me think about my own resistance to those words “I promise.” I found myself too many times on the receiving end of my kids’ disappointment when circumstances beyond my control changed plans we’d made – and I heard “but you promised.” In reality I think very carefully before saying those words, aware of all that could happen, yet I hear you calling out the self-protection in that…and I want to consider your call to risk promising.
I love this reminder of what He promises especially when you shared, “He is with us and for us, speaking on our behalf before the throne and offering us strength, never leaving and always holding love and blessing for us.” This feels particularly needed especially when engaging in others who do have the power to disappoint and wound.