I am in my car listening to the Garth Brooks song If Tomorrow Never Comes.

A tear jerker of a song but on this day one verse catches my attention.

“So I made a promise to myself.”

It’s funny how you can hear words over and over again yet simultaneously feel as if you are hearing them for the first time.

All because emotion in some form has shifted in our lives. 

And therefore, on this day I listen to these words as if I have never heard them before.

We all make promises to ourselves.

And they are often the youthful pledges we made to our young selves.

We are going to live in houses with white picket fences. We will have the same wonderful marriage our parents experienced or we will swear to do the opposite of what they did.

We will have two kids or maybe five children. We will provide them more opportunities than we had. We will make sure they have a great college experience like we did or perhaps because we never did.

We will be better communicators. We will save more for retirement.

We will work outside of the house or be a stay at home mom because our mothers did or never did.

And on and on and on and on.

We will either duplicate our past or right the wrongs of it.

We made promises to ourselves.

And they didn’t include lost jobs, relocations, financial struggles, sick parents or divorce. They didn’t include anything except perfection – our personalized version of utopia.

Because (as I once heard on a television show) we were ‘wise young fools.’

We would have the perfect job, the best marriage, plenty of money, and parents who lived forever.

We made promises to ourselves. And we can’t let them go.


We carry them and hold onto them like fancy colored balloons which travel just above us – seemingly within our reach.

We hold on tightly because if not they will be popped or swept away by the wind.  

Yet it does not matter how firm our grip for balloons are fragile.

As delicate as youthful pledges.

Made during a time when we had not experienced enough of life to understand perfection is for the foolhardy and imperfection is for the wise.

And that our parents had made promises to themselves too.

Some they were able to keep and some they had to release.

We can’t let go when our lives take an imperfect turn because it means rewriting our own master plan. One we have carried forward with us. And of course, we knew how best to live our lives.

We knew the promises we made to ourselves. 

We knew how important each and every one was.

Accepting an interruption of life or a less than perfect path is akin to losing a portion of our youthful selves. The lens we continue to view ourselves through. And therefore, it is accompanied by adult tantrums and sullen brooding. Grown people symbolically stomping our feet.

Demanding a new balloon for the one the wind swept out of our hands.

The same childhood scene enacted when we spied a bouncing balloon we promised ourselves slither out of our hands and up towards the sky. Only back then we recovered quickly as our parents promised us another helium-laden ball of magic.

We must release some of our self-made promises.

To grasp that colorful air-filled ball of magic which God is promising to send us next.


(Photo courtesy of Pexels)

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