07 May 2007

A promise made...

(Warning - lots of psychobabble ahead...)

At a recent wedding I attended, the preacher - when extolling on the challenges of marriage - said something that piqued my interest: "A promise broken is still a promise made."

At first, I rather liked the phrase - it spoke of the virtues of forgiveness for errors made. It gives hope that two people may feel betrayal or loss or disappointment, yet still be able to look beyond it, open their hearts to ask for forgiveness, be willing to give that person the opportunity to earn it, and thus, reconcile. The idea that reparations can be made when even the most basic tenets of commitment to the promise are lapse is certainly appealing.

But is it really feasible? When the promise is broken, but no repair is possible, what happens to the promise then? The phrase then speaks of an unhealed rift that is never able to be closed... "A promise broken is still a promise made." If this is the case, how do you 'move on' once a promise has been broken? What if a promise is reciprocal, but not reciprocated? Can you ever, then, "leave behind" an unresolved broken promise? If you read the phrase in a different perspective, it becomes more of a mental ball-and-chain than a hopeful guide to overcoming strife. I suppose in the context of a healthy marriage, the theme is optimistically applicable... but in the rather messy reality of what my personal life has become, it seems to have little validity or application other than to haunt. I've had no choice but to give up on the hope that some promises broken would ever explained (much less repaired) and find some other external sense of resolution. (And finding a comfortable sense of resolution is quite different than finding "closure," I can assure you.)

Not that I don't have hope for a better future of "promises," mind you. I would like to think that I have not become such a pessimist or cynic that it's not within my realm of imagination to use this phrase in its optimistic, uplifting and strengthening interpretation... and hope that this will become applicable in my (not-so-distant?) future. Admittedly, I'll have to overcome many of my own not-small mental hurdles in the process (I'm workin' on that)... but as for my past, in trying to work the pieces together looking backwards, it simply doesn't seem to have a place... it doesn't fit... except to say that this will be with me forever.

The idea of "a promise broken is still a promise made" is ideal between two people who want and strive to live up to the expectations of their promises... and as well, the other, offended party is open to the idea of such reparations. But where does that leave the soul when the promise broken has no opportunity to be repaired? Is it inevitable that the reciprocal promise is then also broken? And is that a judgement? And if so, is it a judgement on the promisor, or the promisee? And is there a difference? (Or, am I so emotionally entrenched in the subject matter that I cannot reconcile this idea without it becoming a judgement, even if it's just one that I've created and forced upon myself subconsciously?)

I guess the idea of leaving behind such a broken promise - one made with such gravity, broken without explanation, and deserted without attempt at repair - is not something that one should expect to "forget." The experiences of my past undoubtedly will color my perceptions of relationships, trust, and my own self-worth forever, requiring more from the other half of any relationship than I am at all comfortable asking. In that regard, it makes sense that the phrase haunts. But dang it, I don't have to like it.

My hope - and my faith - is that the next promise made will outshine the shadows made by the previous one broken...

Here's to hope...

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