By: Christine Hersom
(4 min read)
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word promise as a pledge to do, bring about, or provide.
That’s a strong definition when you think about it. A promise is a pledge? Do you ever make promises that you then find difficult to keep? We have all done so in our lives. Making the promise is easy. Keeping the “pledge” proves more difficult. When you break a promise does it make you feel bad? I never break a promise on purpose, but I have not met the “deadline” of some of my promises.
Every promise I make is made with the intention of keeping it. I make my promises with enthusiasm and with the honest intention of keeping said promise. Sometimes the keeping of the promise falls by the wayside. I have the tendency to over volunteer to be helpful. That persnickety problem of not being able to say “No.”
Another area that I sometimes struggle with is promises made to my grandchildren. I go out of my way to only make a promise to them that I know I can keep. However, sometimes fate has other plans. A couple of weeks ago, we were on vacation with our grandchildren. Each summer I try to plan something special to do with each child alone. My oldest granddaughter is in love with horses. She wants one of her own. Owning her own horse right now is not possible. I signed her up to go trail riding while on vacation. She was so excited. The day before the scheduled trail ride, we made sure she had all the gear necessary to spend a few hours on a horse. She must have checked our stuff three or four times. We couldn’t wait.
Then the weatherman came on. He stated that the temperature would be 90-95 degrees on the day of the trail ride. There was also the possibility of severe thunderstorms. The ride was cancelled. The heat was too dangerous for the horses. The potential thunderstorms made it dangerous for horse and rider. We were unable to reschedule the ride due to extreme heat the rest of the week and the ultimate end of our vacation.
Having grown up owning and showing horses, I was not surprised the ride had to be cancelled. The heat was treacherous, and the rolling thunderstorms created devastating damage. However, my granddaughter is my “Little City Girl”. She didn’t understand why the equestrian place cancelled the ride. She also didn’t understand how I could possibly break my promise.
My granddaughter is wise beyond her years. She informed me that broken promises hurt not only the person the promise is made to, but the person who makes it. While I was pondering this bit of wisdom from a nine-year-old, she informed me that I had broken her trust in me. Wow! I was not expecting this from such a youngster. I explained that there were other decision makers involved and that it wasn’t my fault for the change in plans.
Wouldn’t you know it, she came back and handed me my own words. She pointed out that when I make a mistake, I shouldn’t try to pass the blame onto somebody else. Phew! She should be an attorney. She has an answer for everything.
While she took off on her bicycle to play with her friends, I sat at the campsite and thought about what she said. Though I had no control over the decision-making process at the equestrian site, I did have control over making promises. I shouldn’t have promised her that we would go on our adventure. I should have worded my invite a bit differently. Explaining to her the trail riding reservation was dependent on barring any issues outside my control. That isn’t what happened. I jumped right on the “make a girl happy train” and booked our horseback riding date. Fate decided I was getting a little big for my britches.
So, in closing, let’s try to remember how broken promises will hurt others and ourselves. When we are unable to keep our promises, people lose their trust in us. We also lose bits and pieces of our honesty and self-esteem. I feel terrible that our ride was cancelled, but I learned a lot from this lesson. My biggest take-away is that our children are listening to us. It may not seem it at the time, but when the chance arrives for them to throw our words back in our face…they are on. I promise!
Christine Marshall Hersom
All Things Wellness, LLC
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