24 May 2007

Music says...Promises

Music has a lot to say about promises. Def Leppard and Aerosmith talk about ‘late-night’ promises that were made spur-of-the-moment and were forgotten by the morning. Stereotypically speaking, the entire premise of country music is regretting broken promises. Frequently, we’ll promise something that we’re sure we can deliver, only to wake up ten minutes after it’s too late to take our words back, realizing that not only is there no way we can deliver what we promised, we had no right to promise anything like that in the first place.

A good example of promising more than we can deliver is in our relationships. When we’re caught in a fast and furious relationship with some guy or girl we really like, it’s so, so easy – too easy – to promise that we’ll be their friend forever, or, if our relationship is more advanced (or we are more foolish) that we’ll love them forever, and we’ll be there for them whenever we need them.

The simple problem with promising such extravagant rewards to any human being is that we’re completely incapable of keeping our word. When we say we’ll be their friend forever, we don’t take into account that we don’t know everything about them. We don’t know their flaws. As we get to know them better, we may find that we can’t stand them as people. In which case we simply iron over our words, hope they’ve forgotten them, and say our goodbyes. Love is more complicated (isn’t it always??). Put plainly, we have no right to swear our undying (!) love to anyone in any situation outside of marriage. If we swear our love to the first person who comes along, *knowing* that person is who God made for us, we are not only foolish, but we’re flirting with fire...so to speak. The people you swear to love usually do not forget such oaths, wish as we might they would.

That’s the waking-up-ten-minutes-after-it’s-too-late part. Speaking from personal experience, I am never aware of my mistakes until after I’ve done with them. I don’t realize my foolishness until after I’ve spoken. I don’t realize my temper until after I’ve shouted. And I certainly don’t realize my pride until after I’ve patted myself on the back. While I’ve never professed undying love to any person (and don’t plan to for quite some time), if the past and other people are any indication, I’m just as likely to rush ahead and spout my feelings before I recognize that saying how I feel is a form of selfishness...the desire to see my emotions reciprocated precisely in the other person.

And then, there's the truth element. I find myself listening to music that promises the world. But I realize that I won't always be there. There's no way I can be (it's humanly impossible - think time-space continuum). I can't promise to love anyone forever except in the formal, God-honoring form of marriage vows. So there's no reason to rush ahead and promise things I don't know if I can deliver. My word is my word, and I mean to keep it. Proverbs 15:4b tells us that an upright man is one who "keeps his oath even when it hurts." We can set standards for ourselves before we're ever tempted to promise something rash so that keeping our word is an infrequent occurence.

Honestly, making rash promises is a form of selfishness. If we don't think through our own words, we most likely will end up paying for them. Even if we don't, someone else does. Speaking after you think and promising according to God's standards - not our flighty feelings or boastful beliefs - is just one more example of maturity. Hebrews 5:14 tells us true maturity is being able to tell the difference between good and evil, and getting that skill by constant usage. Let's learn our lesson from Def Leppard & Aerosmith (probably one of the only lessons we WANT to learn from them!) and watch what we promise.

1 comment:

Josh said...

true. good perspective.