…You’ll be the most famous of men, successful in your endeavors, with an unparalleled ability to influence those around you. Those you bless will be blessed. The land that lies before you will be yours and for your posterity…
Thus was initiated the formal relationship between Abraham and G-d, and the spiritual quest of humanity to build the world with courageous perspectives. It was at this point that the universal concept of a promise began to take shape.
Abraham is revered as a giant of selflessness and kindness. He is acknowledged for his courage in confronting mankind with an earth shattering worldview. He was a warrior and a diplomat – fighting when necessary and celebrating victory with benevolence and dignity. He was a zealot and a patriarch.
The expression of his greatness that’s rarely discussed is the fact that through him the concept of covenant or promise was established.
What’s a promise?
A promise means that one commit to certain specific, carefully articulated conditions. And then goes further and commits to all that’s behind those conditions. The words: “I love you,” for example, are a promise, in that they establish an ongoing commitment and responsibility – both articulated and unstated. The words “I love you,” said to another, imply that one commits himself, with all of his heart and mind, to make that person’s life as joyful and enriched as it could be. He commits to be with the one he loves mentally and emotionally whenever he’s with her physically. And he commits to work hard to further that love and deepen it.
So words establish promises – but promises can’t stand on their own. They’re contingent on something profound and elusive: trust.
A well-earned and honestly maintained level of trust is the enabler of a promise. Without trust – promises have no value and no voice.
Abraham taught us the perspective of trusting in our Maker – and making serious, life changing commitments based on that trust. Shortly thereafter, Isaac our forefather, taught us the concept of trusting in another.
Trust is the foundation of all relationships. It provides each relationship with the resilience necessary to withstand challenging times and it heightens the joy in positive times.
There are two prominent venues for trust:
TRUST I: The Trust Others Feel in You
Think about the trust felt towards you by those who have given their love to you – a child or a friend, for example. If there is a failure of trust – or a qualifier of some kind, confront it. If over time you’ve “convinced” your child that she can’t fully trust you – begin a new chapter. Start engaging in trust building conversations and interactions between the two of you. Commit yourself to a long term effort to win back the trust that should be between you. Monitor your words, tone and gestures. Give her valid reasons and demonstrate why she should trust you. Do not violate that trust as you move forward.
TRUST II: The Trust You Feel in Others
Think about how much you trust those to whom you’ve given your love – a spouse or parent, for example. Explore your feelings for that person and the reality of your relationship. Gauge the level to which you trust them. If you do – but with limitations, think about how your trust was violated. Ultimately, when you confront the person and describe what you’re feeling, your words should be carefully chosen as should the timing and setting of your conversation. If the conversation goes well, there should be mutual agreement on a goal – the level to which the trust should be rebuilt – and a plan to get there which demands commitment and action from both sides.
Trust in another allows important things to happen. It allows promises to be put into place and fulfilled. Abraham, the “promise pioneer” enlightened the world and all of mankind. He enjoyed an unprecedented level of trust with, and in, his Maker. If we can build an honest and unshakeable trust with those closest to us, we will have the opportunity to make promises, fulfill them, and build happier and more rewarding lives.