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Integrity of a Promise

Integrity of a Promise

“I am sorry. I am going to have to cancel. I am overwhelmed with work and life right now.”

“I can’t get to this today like I promised. Probably not until next week or the week after.”

“I’m not going to be able to drive you there. Something has come up.”

“We are not able to attend as we originally planned. Please have a great celebration.”

Do any of these phrases sound familiar? Either you have said them recently, or someone has spoken them to you?

It isn’t a big deal when it happens once in a while, right? But what about repeat offenders? How does it make us feel when we are regularly cancelled on? Even when it’s a professional appointment, like a doctor’s office calling, we tend to find it flaky after a while, right?

After going through each statement with different folks in mind as your usual suspects, the ones who often don’t carry through, now read the list as your own statements.

Hmmmm. Me, too.

I find these self-reflection exercises so helpful in reassessing my priorities. I am a feeler so I’m naturally wired to process how other people feel. And lately, I’ve been hyperaware I have been letting people down.

To be honest, sometimes, it is about unfair expectations placed on us, but often, we are simply overextending ourselves. Even with good intentions, we fail to say “no” when we need to, and while that seems kind at the time, it demonstrates a lack of integrity if we repeatedly prove not to be true to our word.

Matthew 5:33-37, ESV
“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.”

This verse has been circling round and round in my mind. Granted, this is Jesus speaking, and He is referring to taking oaths and the importance of honoring them. I could choose to blow past it and consider it very specific in context except that it was included in His Sermon on the Mount. He had a captive audience, and He was offering instruction to the crowd. The caution in it cannot be ignored. Like every word that came from The Word’s mouth (Jesus was called “the Word” in John 1:1), Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Getting Out of the Dinosaur Line

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I’m not sure what’s going on here…preparing for another Ice Age? Looking for Godzilla? There’s “organized dinosaur activity” in my family room this morning, and I’m not totally in on the secret. I’m a little afraid. 

The thing is: I’m starting to feel like those dinosaurs, like I’m following blindly toward a finish line without really stopping to think along the way. For all they know, they could be headed to the tropics as they march along together without questioning. I feel like I’ve been going through the motions, too, lately: Get this kid from school to go to an hour and a half orthodontist appointment, only to get that one back to school and grab the other one from a different school for a different appointment. Life can feel that way sometimes. Schedules start to define us. Suddenly we are marching in a dinosaur line.

Zooming out a little, I have to wonder if somewhere along the line, the first dinosaur said: “You should take at least three [fill in the blank here] classes, try this after school club, be in a book club, and while you’re at it, try your hand at the trombone and xylophone.” And the second one in line might have questioned it at first, but he decided maybe letting someone or something else dictate his life for him was easier. So he went along.

And then on down the line.

By dinosaur No. 6 in line, they stopped questioning and followed the herd.

For a while, I think I was one of these dinosaurs. I jumped into too many commitments thinking somehow I could keep it all going. I followed the first few good ideas I heard and then realized, halfway in, that I was walking in a stress pack with a bunch of other overtaxed dinosaurs. We had gone miles together without even realizing how worn out we were.

I started this year off saying I wouldn’t do the dinosaur walk. It was okay if I didn’t follow Brontosaurus the exact same way because I’m a Stegosaurus, after all. But that pesky T. Rex sure had some great ideas, and I figured out pretty quickly I’m not a T. Rex. I’m a Stegosaurus. So I said “no” to the T. Rex. And as proud of myself as I was for saying “no” for 35 seconds, drawing a boundary over here, “no” often leads back to another “yes” somewhere else—and I was back in that line again.

When you look at that beautiful dinosaur trail, it looks so appealing and orderly, doesn’t it? They look like they have purpose. I want purpose. I bet you do too. But, I figured out that purpose didn’t come from following every great idea out there. Sometimes, it involved trying new things out on the trail, but often, it meant getting out of line to regroup.

This year I told my kids: “If you want to do marching band, you can’t be in three youth groups. If you want cross country, you can’t dance every day.”

But I forgot to tell myself that.

Oops.

Everybody else out there always makes that line look so attractive. Oh, flag football! Let’s try that! And, woodworking club, awesome! Crew? Let’s sign up! Diving team? Go for it!

And those things are awesome. I wish I could keep up with it all. But I think we’re all out there marching around like tired dinosaurs because we’re either driving people to these things, or we’re in them ourselves.

For me, it’s really not a sports thing (refer to latte blogs…walking to the mailbox is a sport for me). For me, it looks more like this: “Oh, women’s Bible study? Awesome! Let’s do that every week. And teach Sunday School. And do a book club and a moms’ prayer group! Then maybe make a bunch of muffins. And do a fundraiser (it’s been a while)! And send off care packages.”

I’m a “let’s keep busy and do” junkie. I bet so many people can relate.

The thing is: I love each and every one of those things—as long as I don’t think they define me. As long as I remember to jump out of line now and again.

I wonder if we followed this particular group of plastic beasts around, if we’d find that they each eventually figure it out and drop out of line. Maybe they end up in the tropics after all and wonder how on earth they ever got there without noticing?

I don’t think I’d make it that far. I want to know how not to over-involve myself, even when other people have really great ideas of what we could participate in together.

I want to be more still.

I want to get out of the dinosaur line and learn what it truly means to have God “establish my steps.” I’m pretty sure that’s where peace and calm can be found.

Psalm 131:2, David speaking

But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content.

Proverbs 16:9, Solomon speaking

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.

*This blog can also be found at Mom 2 Mom Link-Up #24.

 

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