I was in the company of three naughty male cousins when we met a lovely young woman who according to them was a childhood friend. I had not met her before so I began asking general questions in my quest to know her better. One of my cousins cut into our conversation, he jokingly asked if she was available because he wanted a woman to settle down with.
She quickly responded that she was off-limits, taken and absolutely engaged. With a twinkle in her eyes, she lifted her left arm to show off a ring dazzling on her middle finger. With the seriousness with which she answered, I thought she was actually married at least traditionally.
Interested, I asked if she was married because I felt she was rather too young. She told me her boyfriend had not yet done the necessary traditional rights that would make him lay claim to her but that “He had promised”. I was shocked at the way she had completely believed in the promise without considering the possibility that the gentleman could break it.
Before I could utter a word, the notorious young men in my company burst out unanimously singing a popular praise song. “He has promised he will never fail, I will adore him, I will adore him. He has promised he will never fail, his faithfulness is forever more, his faithfulness is forever more”. We all laughed and the guys continued to tease her. She became annoyed and told the young men they did not know what was up.
She added that they were jealous and went on to vehemently defend her boyfriend’s undying love for her. I don’t know how the story will end but I pray it ends in a happily ever after and that the gentleman would fulfill his “promise” to walk her down the aisle. Even though I found it amusing at the time, I know it will not be an amusing situation if her boyfriend breaks his promise.
When I was going through marital counseling, my husband and I were so sure we would definitely end up together. We had made up our minds and had gone through all the necessary processes. It was just left with a few days and all we had to do was the traditional marriage ceremony followed by the wedding itself. The knocking ceremony was out-of-the-way, it had been announced at church and invitations were already out.
One day during counseling, the wise priest made it clear to us that until we were pronounced man and wife after exchanging our wedding vows, any of us could change our minds. We were surprised because none of us had considered changing our minds, or was I wrong? As if in answer to my question, my husband told the priest he was not going to change his mind.
I also told him I was not planning on making a mind change. He smiled at us and gave us examples of couples whose partners changed their minds few days to their wedding. Some had made announcements at church and already sent out invitations. Yet still, some were left standing at the altar alone. The sweet promises they had made to each other lay broken before their very eyes. From that time, it was at the back of my mind that anything could happen on the road to the altar.
A popular song by boyz to men caught the hearts of many back in the day as its lyrics promised an unending love. “I swear (I swear) by the moon and the stars in the sky I’ll be there (I’ll be there) I swear (and I swear) like the shadow that’s by your side I’ll be there (I’ll be there) for better or worse (better or worse) till death do us part I’ll love you with every single beat of my heart and I swear, I swear I swear. If you are familiar with this song, i am sure you are singing along by now that is if you remember the lyrics.
Who wouldn’t love such sweet words backed by promises of until death do us part? However, it is safer to believe such words on the marital altar where it is said before a multitude of witnesses and before God. Promises are beautiful but they can be broken, In fact they are usually broken. Don’t you remember a time when you were so sure you would fulfill a promise but surprised yourself by breaking it? In other words, adding weight to a promise by swearing will not make it come to pass.
Numbers 23:19 tells us that God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? That means a man or woman can lie or change their mind, it is only God who does not break his promises to his children. He is the only one who is noted for actually doing what he says he will do. King David said of the Lord in Psalm 138 verse 2 ” For You have magnified Your Word above all Your name”.
That is why Jesus cautions us in Matthew 5:33-37 “Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.
It is not uncommon to see many unmarried women wearing promise rings from their lovers who promise to marry them in future. Some even wear it on their wedding ring finger to deter other suitors. What a dangerous thing to do! What if the promise is broken and all the good men who thought you were married did not dare came near you? What if a man who could have made you happier passed you by to the next single lady with no ring on her finger?
Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 says “When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools; Pay what you vow. It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay”. This verse shows our fallibility as human beings and reiterates that it is better not to make a vow or promise than to do so and fail to fulfill our end of the bargain. If we as humans are capable of breaking our vows to God himself despite the repercussions, is it not easier to break promises we make to our fellow humans?
After all, there are so many excuses that can be appropriately used to break off a promise to a partner. With the application of such clever excuses such as my mother doesn’t like you, the one who breaks the promise takes himself out of the picture. Some even tell their partner that their parents do not agree to the tribal differences or that they had a vivid dream that revealed doom for them if they were to get married.
I am not casting a negative light at making promises which we intend to keep but rather at broken promises which has left many women broken. At times, the heartbreak and disappointment is not deliberately planned. A man can be serious at the time he promises heaven on earth. However, let us not forget Numbers 23:19 that reveals how man is prone to change his mind. Momentary feelings can be fickle and trusting in them completely can spell doom.
In the world of love and romance, men will continue to make promises to women. Some will fulfill these promises whilst others will break them due to one reason or the other. Women will also continue pledge themselves to men who have not taken serious steps towards marrying them. It is up to us to keep it at the back of our minds that promises made by man can be broken unlike promises made by God.
With this understanding, we can pray to God to allow his will for our lives come to pass. By reminding him of the promises he makes to us in His word and the fact that he cannot lie. That way, we challenge him to grant us our heart desires. Promise rings are beautiful symbols of love and many find them attractive. But the invisible seal of constant prayer on a single woman with bare fingers is better than a symbolic promise that can be broken.
When the fingers of a single woman in a relationship remain bare, her man knows that she attracts others who may be quicker in fulfilling their promises without symbols of delay. He makes himself ready to quickly lay claim to the woman he loves. The woman who constantly prays to God to fulfill his desire for her life has nothing to prove to the world. God makes sure to prove to the world around her that he is a God who does not lie.