As a 10-year-old, I took my promises seriously, at least when it came to trying to be a good girl in a Catholic culture. For Lent, I’d commit to give up candy or to place any coins –my only income at the time– into the slot of the little yellow cardboard box shaped like a church. For 40 days I would strive to help the children of Guatemala and to develop a form of discipline that today helps me to hold my promise to intermittently fast until 11 a.m.
These days I capture promises on my iPad where I keep my To Dos designed to demonstrate my priorities. I prefer to put people at the top. One of my 6 siblings, three of whom had birthdays this month. A coworker I coach. A friend I’ve had forever. My one beloved.
Next come more promises. Taxes. Publication deadlines. Must do Zooms. I can’t recall the last time I crossed off everything off a day’s list. Either my enthusiasm or my ego is bigger than my high energy or assorted abilities.
My well-established habits of a doer make me reasonably productive. They also reflect my vying to show my worth or garner even more love in my life. With these, possibilities for my priority list are limitless.
All this makes me productive. While I do my best to keep my promises to others, be it as a best friend or as an American citizen, some priorities I can forget to get on the list. Grow a flower. Dance. Read. Walk. Write. Cook. Learn. In my quest for accomplishment, I can forget that my personal passions are a priority, too.
Despite having long abandoned my devoutness to the church, I enjoy honoring the annual Lenten ritual of a period of preparation for something joyful to come. If I call forth that childhood fervor for the integrity of keeping my promises, I can spend the days until Easter keeping some I make to myself. To meditate. To move my body. To create more space in my life.
In my quest for accomplishment, I’d be served by the wisdom of a 4th grader. Perhaps then keeping any promise will be a bit more playful.
Have you looked at your priorities lately?
Do you keep promises to yourself?
What childlike wisdom might serve you?