Covenant: more than a pinky promise

by Dawn Aldrich

Image by All Holding flickr.com_12315726084_7583df5247_CC BY ND 2.0

My mother never made promises. “I can’t promise you anything because I don’t know what tomorrow might bring,” she’d say. All spoken from her shattered heart knowing full well the pain of a broken marriage. Those words haunted me, (probably still do since I’m compelled to write about them), for years. I’d even avoid childhood pinky-promises, for fear of breaking them, so upon my own engagement, I trembled.

My husband and I spoke often of covenant promises. There was more at stake than a pinky promise held. This was our future, our family, our legacy. I could not–would not–face a lifetime of uncommitted tomorrows where we left open a window of mistrust or an opportunity to slink away. We either entered our marriage covenant fully committed–promising to fight for one another and our future together no. matter. what.–or not at all. 

Of course tomorrows always hold surprises, but if we don’t commit ourselves to anyone or anything, then we spend our days simply existing and accepting whatever comes. Where’s the excitement in that? Where’s the motivation to do more and be more? Where’s the hope for the future? What legacy do we leave our children if we don’t promise, commit, covenant our love and lives to one another?

We will all leave a legacy–good or bad. We will be remembered for something when we die. What people recall about us depends upon our choices; little decisions made every day that set our legacy in to motion. Listening to my aunt’s eulogies this winter, there was no mistaking her legacy and how her life impacted her family. She wasn’t rich or famous or popular. In some instances she was quite prickly, but in everyone’s memory, we knew she loved the Lord, her devoted husband, her extended family, and a good laugh. That was her legacy.

Friend and author, Lucinda Secrest McDowell says it this way, “[You] live your legacy now! Legacies are built upon your commitments [promises] of today.” So, yes, think carefully about your decisions, about the covenants you enter, making sure they are godly and worthy of your time and commitment. Ask yourself, “Is this worth fighting for?”

And how do we keep those promises? We are all fallible human beings and we will fail. As cliché as it sounds, if we want a fighting chance in this divorce-minded, disposable-thinking world, we must invite God into every relationship: our marriages, families, church bodies. When God becomes part of our relationships,  He strengthens our covenants to one another:

Though one may be overpowered,  two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12 NIV

Thirty-three years (next month), two children and six grandchildren later, we’re still together. We’ve experienced mountain top highs and we’ve hit rock bottom, too, but the common thread through it all is this: we’ve always invited God into our marriage. He’s fought alongside us, been our stability, our hope and our confidante. God has been faithful in everything. We strive to love God first as individuals, and then love one another through God’s eyes. We ask for forgiveness often. Sometimes daily. Sometimes multiple times a day. And in return, offer grace that only God can supply.

What legacy do you want to leave as an individual, a family, a church? Do your choices today align with what you hope your legacy will be? In which relationships is God invited?

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