Tag Archives: promises

Let yes be yes, and no, no

promises

“Now what do you think? There was once a man who had two sons. He went to the older one and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’

‘I don’t want to,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.

Then the father went to the other son, and said the same thing.

‘Yes, sir,’ he answered, but he did not go.

Which one of the two did what his father wanted?”

“The older one,” they answered.

So Jesus said to them, “I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John the Baptist came to you showing you the right path to take, and you would not believe him; but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. Even when you saw this, you did not later change your mind and believe him.” (Matthew 21: 28-32).

This was a parable told by Jesus to His disciples. One brother refused to go to the vineyard at first, but later he changed his mind and went. The first brother signifies those who are considered sinners by the society; those who hear of God’s word but refuse to believe in Him. Like the brother though, after some reflection they change their minds and commit their lives to God.

The second brother refers to those who consider themselves righteous; they hear God’s word and believe it so readily, but later on, down the line they stop believing and fall from His grace. One might condemn the older brother because he didn’t accept to oblige to his father’s will at first, but the thought that he realized what was the right thing to do later is what counts.

In our daily lives, some of us are like the older brother; we say no to something without giving it much thought but later on we do what we’re expected to, while some of us are like the other brother; saying yes to something then reneging on our promises.

A story is told about a man and a woman, who were tying the knot. When the time came for them to exchange their vows, the bride developed a cough. “I promise to love you, in [cough] and in health, in good times and in [cough], till [cough] do us part,” she vowed.

“What’s wrong?” The priest asked.

“I seem to have developed a cough father,” the woman replied and the priest unsuspectingly, went on to unite the two. Some weeks later, the married couple started experiencing some difficulties. “I’m leaving,” the wife announced.

Shocked, the husband stood up in protest. “But you vowed to stay with me till death do us part.”

“Did I?” The wife asked. “We can watch our wedding video to confirm. I was coughing the entire time so no, I didn’t promise to love you forever. I knew there would be bad times ahead, and there’s no way I was going to spend the rest of my life in difficulty.” And just like that, she walked out on him.

The wife is like the younger brother; she accepted to marry a man but later left him. The parable encourages us to be firm in our decisions; if it’s a yes, let it be a yes and if it’s a no, let it be a no. It’s good to change our minds, but sometimes that is never a viable option. Ergo, when making decisions in life, we should take time to think about what we really want so that in the process we don’t hurt others.

In the man’s case for instance; he married a woman, hoping to spend the rest of his life with her but she broke her promise. Obviously he was hurt. We’re encouraged to put some thought into the promises we make, so we don’t go back on our word. But just like the first brother, if we realize we made the wrong choice, we can always do what’s right.

For better or for worse

for better or for worse

Did you swear to love him/her forever; in good times, and in bad; for better or for worse… and now you feel you can’t keep that promise?

Do you want to leave your partner because you feel you don’t love them anymore? Because all the love you once felt for them is all gone?

Well here’s the thing. Love is not just a feeling. If it were, there would be very few people staying for decades together. Love, it turns out, is a decision; a choice to stand by one, for better or for worse. I’m anything but a love guru, but one thing I’ve learned from experience/observation is that love is not the only feeling that binds a couple.

In most cases, love sought of takes a back seat, especially if the two people in the relationship have been together for long and virtues like tolerance, acceptance and understanding keep the relationship going.

My parents for instance; it’s been eighteen years since they officially said, “I do,” swearing to love each other for better or for worse, but have been in a relationship for more than two decades. Is it love that has seen them this far? I would strongly disagree. In my opinion, love only pops every once in a while, but most of the time it’s the vow they made that keeps them together.

If they weren’t legally married, sometimes I get the feeling mom would have left dad a long time ago. She constantly says he is not the man she hoped he would turn out to be. Dad, as I’ve constantly said in previous posts, isn’t the most generous man I know. When my sisters and I were small he would leave home for the office early in the morning and would return after midnight.

Normally that wouldn’t be too big an issue if we were all fed. Problem is he hardly bought food and mom didn’t have a job at the time. His behaviour was the root cause of most of the arguments he and mom used to have. Mom usually blames herself for her failure to read the writings on the wall when they started going out.

“There were very many red lights,” she says in retrospect, “it’s just that I was too in love to take notice. There were tell-tale signs everywhere. If only I hadn’t ignored them. Even when we were dating, he neither took me out to nice places nor bought me gifts.”

Years later, she is still the one who buys him gifts and he never feels the need to reciprocate. On special days like valentine’s days, he doesn’t do anything special for her.

I always find it ironic that on such days, she gets hit on by other men, like those from her workplace and all, with some even confessing they have been secretly in love with her for long. Even some of our neighbours hit on her. Still, mom has never cheated on dad.

The way I see it, the only reasons that prevent her from having extra-marital affairs are the vows she made on their wedding day; ‘for better or for worse, in good times and in bad, till death do us part’. It’s a choice she keeps reinforcing, to stay with dad, as flawed as he might be.

When my sisters and I were growing up she stayed because she didn’t want us to grow up in a broken family; she weathered the storm for us. Now we’re old enough, and the solemn vows are what keep her by his side.

Everytime mom laughs when I tell her I pray that God will give me a husband I will never be tempted to cheat on. The last time I told her that, about a fortnight ago, she asked me, “What makes you say that. Is it because you feel you might cheat on your husband?”

“It’s because I’m almost sure if I get someone who behaves like dad, I will cheat on him,” I paused before continuing, “It’s true what they say, when God gives you a difficult situation He also gives you the strength to deal with it. You’re strong woman mom, not many can live the life you live. It’s difficult.”

I admire her for her resilience. She knows she deserves much better from dad, yet she wakes up each morning, determined to stay faithful to him; to ward off any suitors who promise her all the things dad doesn’t do for her. He hardly makes any effort to make her feel special, only buying her gifts when we ask him to, and everytime he spends his money on her, one can feel the obvious reluctance.

Looking at my parent’s relationship, I can confidently say, it’s not always love that makes two people- married or just friends- stick together. It’s a choice we make, to accept people as they are, and to put up with their shortcomings.

So if you’re afraid you have fallen out of love with someone, just remember, love alone can’t sustain a relationship. Love may pop in every once in a while, but most importantly, it’s tolerance that makes it work and most importantly, the personal decision to stay by one’s side, for better or for worse.

Still, this shouldn’t be reason enough for one to stay in an abusive relationship; one could end up dead while trying to salvage a dead relationship.

Feeling abandoned?

But the people of Jerusalem said, “The Lord has abandoned us! He has forgotten us.”

So the Lord answers, “Can a woman forget her own baby and not love the child she bore? Even if a mother should forget her child, I will never forget you. Jerusalem, I can never forget you! I have written your name on the palms of my hands.” (Isaiah 49:14-16).

How many times do we think, “The Lord has abandoned me,” when we feel everything in our lives is going downhill? How many times do we find ourselves questioning God’s presence in our lives when we are burdened? I used to think like that too, until I found out that whenever we feel like we’re walking alone, thinking God left us, He’s always there with us, waiting for the right time to come so He can act.

In a previous post I wrote about there being a time for everything. God acts in time. Sometimes we may feel we’re in desperate need of something, and when we pray for it and don’t get it straight away, we feel our heavenly Father has abandoned us. The verse above is a reminder, straight from God’s mouth, “I will never forget you.”

Even in that time of great need we should keep our faith in him, believe that He will come through for us when the time’s right. He gives an example of a woman. In reality there are many women who abandon their children, so in a way someone who has been abandoned by their mother might not be able to relate to this, but a great percentage of women will die for their children.

That’s why majority of us sing in praise of our mothers. They would go through anything, do just about anything, to protect their children. So God asks, “Can a woman forget her own baby and not love the child she bore?” He knows we’re only human and are bound to make mistakes at times; but even so, He promises, “Even if a mother should forget her child, I will never forget you.”

A mother’s love is said to be the greatest. But God’s surpasses that. Such is His love. He loves us unconditionally; He loves us at our best, and even when we’re at our worst, afraid He would abandon us because we wronged; He loves us even more at that time. And when one finds themselves going through unmitigated pain, they would ask, “If He loves us that much, why would He allow such agony?”

Imagine if we were always happy, if things always turned out the way we wanted? The way I see it, from my own experiences, I appreciate food when I see it because I’ve been hungry. I empathize with a hungry person on the streets because I know how it feels to be hungry. When I feel happy, I try all I can to hold on to the beautiful feeling because I’ve been trapped in the dark depths of depression. When I wake up without any aches/pain tormenting me, I realize it’s a blessing because I know how it feels to be sick. In short, the bad moments help us appreciate the good moments.

God allows us to go through painful moments because He knows from it we draw our strengths. Before Jesus died on the cross, He asked God, “Father, why hast thou forsaken me?” He felt alone and abandoned. But God, in His infinite wisdom knew by dying His Son would achieve so much more. If God knew the pain would be for naught, He wouldn’t let Him go through it.

In the same case, when we suffer, it’s because He knows we will gain something better. If we embrace our pain, and look at it with faith, we will reap so much from it. God is assuring us, “I will never forget you.” We make promises and break them, but when He promises something, He fulfils it. He is a faithful God. When things are not going the way we expect; when our prayers don’t get answered immediately, we should remember those words. “I can never forget you. I have written your name on the palms of my hands. ”