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"What is a promise?"

The answer to that question may not be the same for different people. What you understand as the meaning of the word promise, may not be what is understood, by the next person. People everywhere, have differing perceptions.  

Keeping promises is an art. But like every other art, it has a degree of imperfection. No painting is ever one hundred percent perfect. The art of promise making and promise keeping always has room for improvement.

Ask yourself first of all, if you are by nature a promise maker and a promise keeper? Maybe you are more of a promise maker and a promise breaker?  

Let us examine the nature of promises, with the understanding that we all make promises to ourselves and others, every single day of our lives. Consider these three examples for a moment.  

1. "I promise that I will be there."  

The next thing you know, the promise that you made is broken. You are not there, in spite of your promise to be there! Perhaps something came up and you have a legitimate excuse for not being there? Or maybe you really had no intention of going there at all, but you promised someone that you would be there, for whatever reason. Maybe you simply changed your mind, after you made the promise?  

2. "I promise that I will do that."

All of a sudden, you realize that you did not do what you promised you would do. Maybe you did something else instead? Perhaps you forgot the promise that you made? Maybe you made the promise simply to please someone else, or to make a good impression on a group of people? Maybe your circumstances did not allow you to do what you promised. Unfortunately, again, a promise has been broken.    

3. "I promise to love a particular person."

The promise to love someone was made by you, at some time or in a particular place. Maybe the promise was not kept, because that person did or said something that was offensive to you, at a later time or date. Of maybe your understanding of what it means to love someone, is totally different than the other person's understanding. Perhaps there was simply a misunderstanding of some kind. Maybe you got into an argument over something really trivial, or something far more serious. The promise to love was not kept for whatever reason.    

What a promise really is, or means can become a very complex issue at times.  

A promise is a declaration by you, that you will do, or will not do something. The onus is on you, to make promises that you can and will keep, simply because if you don't keep the promises that you make, your credibility is at stake.  

It is entirely up to you, not someone else, to keep the promises that you make. No one else can keep your promises for you.  

If you are not able to keep a promise, make a point of explaining why the promise was not kept, or had to be broken. Apologize to the other person or people, for breaking your promise. "I am sorry," goes a long way towards mending fences. Forgive those who break their promises to you.        

There are legally binding promises of different kinds and breaking those problems can lead you into serious legal problems, at a later date. A person, to whom a promise is made, has the legal right to expect that promise to be fulfilled. Maybe you have signed documents that constitute a promise to pay something. You can be taken to court, if you do not meet your obligations.    

There are times when we make promises to ourselves or our families or children, with regards to self improvement. Maybe we have promised to improve our appearance by losing weight, upgrade our skills or education, change our inappropriate behavior, etc. There is no end to the number of promises that we are capable of making. But the promises that we break, can be endless too.  

Promises made to children are really important. Remember that if a child sees you intentionally making and breaking a promise, he or she can lose his or her trust in you immediately. That can be difficult to gain back. Set a good example for children, by always trying to keep the promises that you make to them.      

In a perfect world, every promise that is made would be kept. In our less than perfect world, or the world that we see as less than perfect, some promises are going to be broken.  

When making promises, or pledges of various kinds, to others, be realistic. You generally know, at least to some degree, whether or not you are in a position to keep the promises that you make. If you are aware that you cannot keep a promise, be honest. Let the other person know that you may not be able to do whatever you are promising, but you will try to keep your promise, if at all possible. Then do your utmost to keep that promise.          

Others also know to some extent, how credible your word to them is and whether or not they can expect you to keep your promises. So be careful, when you are making any kinds of promises to others. You really do not want to lose your credibility.

There are some who will suggest that promises are made to be broken. That is the typical attitude of a pessimist. Promises are made to be kept. The very definition of the word promise, suggests that it should be kept. Become an optimist, if you are not one already.  

Expect to have the promises made by you and to you, kept. Certainly there may be times when you and others are disappointed.    

At best, we will all fall short with respect to our promises. God alone keeps all of His promises. Remember that keeping promises is an art and you have the ability within you, to be the artist.


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