Last week I had an appointment with a client for 12:30PM across town. Knowing the drive usually takes 20 minutes, I planned to leave the office at 12:00 to have a buffer for lunchtime traffic.
As can happen, I received a quick phone call that quickly turned into a long call, and at 12:15 I was still at my desk. As I walked out the office, I considered calling my client to inform them I’d likely be late and offer to extend our time together to make up for my lateness. And then I had another thought: what if I just keep my word and arrive on time?
What if I just keep my word and arrive on time?
I really had no idea how I that could happen. By the time I got on the road, I had 12 minutes to make a 20-30 minute drive through lunch hour traffic in town. There were numerous variables between me and my destination, and no way for me to control them. So I asked God to help me keep my word. And what happened next was a thrill. It was like the parting of the Red Sea; traffic literally moved out of my way. I even drove the speed limit! Eleven out of twelve traffic lights were green and the one that was red lasted one minute (I know, I was counting). And at 12:30PM I was sitting face to face with my client.
What we can do trumps what I can do any day.
What I got present to in that moment is that many times my commitments will involve factors beyond my control, but I can still take a stand for keeping my word anyway. I will ask for help to do so. Help from God—I suspect that sincere prayers for help in keeping one’s word tend to get God’s attention. And help from others—what we can do trumps what I can do any day.
How I live this moment is how I live every moment.
I have never kept my word in the future, as in tomorrow, next week, next year. I’ve thought about keeping my word in the future. But my experience with keeping my word is that the only time I can actually do it is now. And now. And now. With each new now I keep my word, my quality of life and real service to others elevates.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with not keeping my word—it just produces a certain result. What do I get when I give my word and then take it back? I get my old life back. There is real risk when I give my word to something beyond my control and take responsibility for the outcome anyway. It’s a stand I choose to take; not like the right stand, but a stand for a possibility beyond myself for family, friends, clients, community and the world.
There is real risk when I give my word to something beyond my control
and take responsibility for the outcome anyway.
This moment, every moment, I have a choice. It’s always life or death, no matter how inconsequential it appears on the surface. I choose life and grow or choose death and shrink back. So I choose life; it works.