Archive for August, 2019


We’ve been discussing the power of our words. The power of words to bring life and death into a person’s life. I wasn’t expecting to write on this topic nor did it occur to me that it would be an issue that I face and have been facing, for a while. All of us have had promises made to us that have been broken for one reason or another. Some were made by parental figures, those we love, our friends and people we just met. One would think that the promises of a stranger, would mean little, in contrast to the impact that these empty words have upon our psyche and subsequent behavior. In the series, Precious Hope, we discussed why hope and faith appear to fail. The failure of words, the reliance upon humans and the things that we promise to one another, can cause our faith to “fail.”

How many times do you have to be promised that someone will do or not do something before you lose faith in that person? How many times do you hear other people make promises that never see the light of day before you start to lose faith in people? Cynicism and a jaded attitude can flourish when watered so often through the lies that people tell. The “good” intentions. The platitudes of promises never meant to be kept.

“Guard your heart, you’re too sensitive, don’t take it personally” may sound familiar to you like words of encouragement in the face of a broken promise. Perhaps, you’re like me, and you take most of what people promise and consider it, like smoke rising, forming and dissipating with the quickened wind? I’d rather have a discerning attitude filled with grace than the aforementioned viewpoint.

However you treat the broken promises in your life; I have these thoughts on the issues. Don’t be a promise maker. When I first met my two boys, I told them, “I won’t make very many promises to you. I know that there are too many things that happen that I can’t control.” Instead, be a promise keeper. Make the promise, to yourself. If you’re going to do something for a person then do it. Now, I know what you might be thinking. How I can help someone out by picking them up at the airport and not tell them? That’s really not what I’m addressing here. Although, I will quickly amend the previous statement and say that those promises, not kept, hurt as well. Therefore, if you find yourself unable to keep promises then don’t make them. If you promise to pick someone up from the airport and you forget and just leave them hanging then you shouldn’t be making promises. Perhaps, though, you don’t know how to follow through? Most people have their own personal devices to receive calls and texts. Use them to communicate any difficulties in fulfilling your promise (traffic, forced to work late, whatever).  If you cannot fulfill your promise then do the best you can to make sure it can be fulfilled. Picking someone up and can’t make it? Get them another ride through Uber, a taxi or another reliable source (don’t call your serial killer friend and have him pick them up).  If you make a promise to pick someone up, meet someone at a specific time or have someone somewhere, waiting on you then use your smartphone (calendar, reminders, etc). Tie a string around your finger. Put notes all-around your house. Do everything that you can, if you find yourself to be forgetful, to remind yourself that you made a promise. When I think more about it, a lot of promises keep someone hanging somehow. An anniversary, a call that’s never made, dry cleaning not picked up, the list goes on and on. If you’re going to make the promise then make the effort to make sure that you don’t forget the promise. When you find yourself a promise-breaker then stop making promises.

As the one who’s the recipient of broken promises, know this, it’s not you. I know it’s very hard. I know that it’s even harder to not harden your heart toward people when they make promises to you and sometimes, it is you. If your friend Karen makes promises to you and breaks them most of the time then perhaps you need to stop relying upon Karen’s promises and either call her out or thank her and move on. Don’t be passive-aggressive or take Karen’s problem and cast it out onto all people. Whatever you do, don’t become cynical and jaded. Don’t start thinking that everything that people say is a lie. Even if most of the time it might appear to be so.

This was brought to my attention because I am a Christian and I realized that I believe in a God that I cannot see and that most of my faith comes from the Bible. It comes from the Word of God. As a Christian, we know that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17 NKJV)

These are still words. I’ve found myself, to my surprise, to be more of a John 10:38 person who believes through the works that prove the words that have been spoken. However, that’s not faith. Not really. However, I have to remember that God is not a human being. God doesn’t lie. He has never failed me. I look to Bible, and I am reassured by the Word of God;  Numbers 23:19, 1 Samuel 15:29, and Hebrews 6:18. I remember that Jesus didn’t trust people because he knew our hearts. (John 2:24)

I didn’t realize until this week how much of a struggle it is for me, sometimes, especially in hard times with people, to rely upon God’s Word and walk in Faith believing that which is unseen as seen.

I want to encourage you today, as I try and receive encouragement in my faith, to not harden your hearts to people. Don’t label them as liars and hypocrites. All of us make mistakes. All of us have broken promises. We’re all human. Let’s try and do the best that we can to speak life to people and, though it be a cliché; if you can’t say something nice then don’t say anything at all.

To those of you are Believers in God. Trust in Him. Remember, He won’t lie to you. His ways are not our ways and his timing is perfect. Remember what He has done in your life so far. Remember the impossible that has been made possible. Count your blessings and above all. Bring your doubt, your fears and concerns to Him who is faithful, because He loves everyone.

 

Do you like routine, order and knowing your place in the Universe? You know what I mean. Whether or not we realize it, most of us desire some semblance of order in our lives. Even those of us who say that we embrace chaos and live “crazy” unpredictable lives don’t like it when our world view forcibly changes. Imagine being six years old, an only child and your parents have another child. The very least that they could have done was to consult you. Did they? Oh, maybe they said something to you about have a little brother or sister but you didn’t know how that would forcibly change your world view. A new brother or sister? Great, you liked the new puppy so it’s probably going to be like that. Mom and Dad are happy and you get all excited until the Day it comes. I remember very clearly when my Mom’s water broke. I was taking a bath and I heard her yell to my Dad something about the water being broken. The water looked fine to me. I should have known, at that time, that this would be the first of many new changes to my world view.

While more couples are deciding to only have one child (11% in 1976 versus 22% in 2015) the family unit is also growing smaller with the number of families of four or more children declining from 40% to 14% as well (from 1976 to 2015). The age gap between children has also increased with the change in family units where both parents are working from one parent staying at home. An age gap of 4+ years appears to be an ideal time for working parents to have a second child. What I found most remarkable in my research regarding age gaps between child was the focus was primarily on the impact on the parents. The parental view is one in which the parents will be able to focus more on one child than the other “knowing” that the older child will “understand”, the self-sufficiency of the older child, etc. The basic idea is that an older child who has had the benefit of years of parental attention will be more able to handle the intrusion of a second child.

In reading the numerous reasons from one source after another I couldn’t help but remember old black and white media where the children didn’t behave like children but were dressed and acted like little adults.

How does a child in the early stages of childhood development (between 3 – 8 years of age) become this independent, self-sufficient, confident, logical, well-organized, mature, paragon of adulthood? No, that’s childhood, right? Does this confuse you? It confuses me that people would expect this from a child who’s just started childhood. The aforementioned qualities are hard to find in many adults. If this weren’t the case then why do so many job advertisements ask for many of these qualities in their search for an employee?

Let’s continue with this idea in mind and consider the types of communication required to form this perfect child. Let’s re-visit Brad, Janet, and Tim who is now four years old. As you may recall from Part Two Brad and Janet decided that they would raise Tim and discipline him through their words.

Unbeknownst to Tim, he was not always going to be an only child and so, from birth, his parents were overprotective, strict disciplinarians, who put a lot of pressure on Tim to be the best that he could be. Tim needed to be a “good” boy who did everything his parents wanted him to do in the way that his parents wanted it to be done. Tim was either “good” or “bad” and what he did was either “good” or “bad” or “right” or “wrong.” Brad and Janet kept their promise to not exercise corporal punishment in disciplining Tim. Instead, they thought that gently and logically explaining to him how he was “wrong” when he wanted to eat cereal with a fork, or how it was “bad” for him to knock over the card house before Janet saw it, were better than spanking him like when they were kids. Brad and Janet focused primarily on persuasive negative reinforcement to change Tim’s behavior.

When Brad and Janet decided to have another child they were confident that Tim could handle it without any problem. Afterall:

  • Tim spent most of his time alone in his room playing with his toys or in the backyard in the sandbox and making up games to play.
  • He was conscientious of his behavior, always confirming whether he was “doing it right” or not.
  • All of his toys were properly organized. He was so cute, he would give them a stern talking-to if he found them out of order.
  • Sometimes though, he would become upset when he couldn’t find one of his toys and had to have Janet or Brad help him locate it.
  • He was very smart and would sit quietly reading to himself.
  • He loved to draw and was very creative. He even picked up after himself gathering the crumbled and torn pages that had mistakes on them.

Overall, Brad and Janet were quite pleased with Tim. Although he was shy around other kids, they knew it was just a phase that he was going through. A little brother or sister would be just the company that he needed. They excitedly started to try for another child. Hopefully, they thought, another one just like Tim!

In the next part of this series, we will review Tim’s “perfect” behavior, introduce childhood disruption, and the conflict of communication that arises when changing from an only child world view to that of a firstborn world view.

Sherman Memorial Lighthouse

Sherman Memorial Lighthouse

Motorcycle gone 2 copy