Do you remember when you were a child? If you were like me you held onto everything your parents said (as the standard of truth). Unbeknownst to me at the time, the little promises they made to me were very impactful.
I can remember times my mom would be on the phone and “promise” me when she got off we would go get ice cream but the phone call would last too long and ice cream would be put off until tomorrow. It was something simple, but for me, it was a broken promise.
As I grew older the promises got bigger and the ramifications of the broken ones greater. Promises seemed to be easy to make but also so easy to break. No real thought going into them. I was determined that I would not break a promise, therefore I made very few.
Twenty years ago God blessed me with a son I didn’t ask for and then 4 years later a private school with 16 more children that I didn’t ask for – He really has a sense of humor.
I remember one of the first things I told the kids as a teacher was “I will never break a promise”. The response was in unison “Oh, yeah right Ms. Debi”. Well that first year I didn’t make many promises, but I kept the ones I made. I can even remember them trying to trick me into breaking promises.
One example of this was “Ms. Debi can we eat lunch outside tomorrow?” “Sure” I said. “You promise?” They’d question. “No I cannot promise.”
“Why?!” they’d ask. Then I’d explain, “Well it could rain or something else could happen out of my control and then I would be breaking my promise and your belief in me would be lost.”
The next year those same students welcomed the new students and I overhead them tell them that Ms. Debi doesn’t break her promises – “FOR REAL”. Before this year was up I remember overhearing a conversation between some second graders in the classroom that went like this:
“Do you promise?”
“Yes I promise.”
“But do you Ms. Debi promise??”
“No, I cannot do that.”
Because to make a Ms. Debi promise meant serious business. 16 years later, this language is still used as I walk through the halls of my school. The Ms. Debi promise has become part of our school’s culture, without any promotion from myself. Kids even go home and make their parents Ms. Debi promise.
I think this promise makes my students, the parents, and even our teachers slowly think: Can I really promise that? Can I really follow through? Can I really commit to that?
Are you keeping your promises? What is a promise you can make today to a loved one that you will never break? I Ms. Debi promise to you that keeping a promise builds respect, security, and trust.