Russia Invades Ukraine

I watched the news today and got a little of that déjà vu thing.

Russian troops moving to take over part of another country.

This morning the world is racing to respond to a crisis in the Crimean portion of Ukraine. Before it turns violent or spreads. As I write this, the stock market is dropping because, as one investor said, "money doesn't like war."

Russia claims it's protecting the security of the Russians who live in that part of Ukraine. Many Western leaders claim it's an invasion of another country's territory.

I'm not smart enough to sort out all the back-and-forth arguments on this. But, for me, it surfaces an issue that's much more personal and closer to home.

About promises.

Apparently, Russia signed a treaty awhile back that traded Ukraine giving up nukes for Russia respecting their "territorial integrity." Many believe they just violated that treaty. And how many crises, how many wars have started that way?

Not just between countries. But between people.

Politicians promise. Get elected. Forget the promise. And hope turns to disillusionment.

Native Americans know about broken promises. Their lives are built on the rubble of one broken treaty after another. Land taken. Livelihoods destroyed. Lives lost.

What about the deeply personal toll taken by promises broken? Marriages shattered. Once-close relationships turned to animosity and bitterness. People wounded by a leader's betrayal. Children who've learned not to trust anymore.

I try to listen to the aging recording of our wedding each anniversary. Because I need to hear again what I promised this woman who was, in essence, trusting me with her life. And I need to make right what I've not always lived up to.

Beyond our vows, most of us promised some things before we ever got married. Things "I'll never do." That we've done. Things "I'll always do." But that we've failed to do.

Then comes the disappointment and disillusionment. Creeping resentment and growing distrust. Increasing alienation.

I can't help but wonder how many divorces trace back to a long-ago broken promise. And the ugly garden that grew from that seed.

And how many children carry the wounds from a parent who kept making promises? And breaking them. We get busy and forget our promise. Our children never forget.

Broken promises lead to broken relationships. Broken trust - where people stop believing what you say. Broken hearts that sting from what feels like betrayal.

I want to be a trusted person. Whose words are believed. Who doesn't raise hopes, then dash them.

So I guess I need to make four promises. To myself.

1. Promise carefully.
Or, as it says in the Bible, "It is better to say nothing than to make a promise and not keep it."

2. Promise sparingly.
Underpromise. Overdeliver. Build trust.

3. Apologize quickly.
When you drop the ball. Even if you have years to make right.

4. Deliver sacrificially.
Do whatever it takes to do what you said you'd do. Even if it's hard.

Every promise I keep says, "You can trust me."

And trust takes a long time to build.

And not much to lose.

relationship repair