La La Land

boy_scout_with_oath

When a man makes a vow to the LORD or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said. (Numbers 30:2)

This one worries me. I break vows like I break wind: abruptly and without forethought. I then blow out of there as fast as I can. If breaking vows is as odorific to God as breaking wind is to me, I’m in big trouble.

I remember the first vow I made to God. I was a kid and really sick. I told God that if he made me better I’d do whatever he said. I got better, after which I promptly annulled the deal. I figured God wouldn’t enforce contracts entered into under duress. Besides, I probably got better on my own anyway. So no big deal.

Since then my life has been wallpapered with trashed divine contracts. It’s always the same: I get into trouble and plead to God for help, throwing in some kind of Hail Mary promise to reform my ways. I evade the disaster and instantly shrug off the stipulations. If I’m lucky I even forget about them altogether. It’s a good system overall.

Except I have this tiny little feeling of dread deep in the bowels of my psyche. (My psyche has bowels, anyway.) It’s like my bowels know something about breaking vows that the rest of me would rather ignore. That little voice—I’ll call the feeling a voice now so I can make it talk—that little voice deep in the bowels of my psyche keeps up its little recitation: “You made a promise to God. You made a promise to God. You made a—” I usually cut it off at that point by putting my fingers in my psyche ears and chanting “La la la la.” It’s a good system overall.

In addition to just ignoring my vows, I often mix in a dose of religious rationalization. You know, stuff like God loves me and forgives me for all my sins and knows I’m only a dweeb in sheep’s clothing and I’m only saved by grace anyway so why make a big deal about my faults which are sterilized in the Purell of the Lamb anyway and did I say the God loves me and forgives me from all my sins thing yet? I mean, why cry over spilt milk when there’s a whole freaking fatted calf of grace in the barn? So what if I’ve broken a few vows to the God of the universe? That’s small potatoes compared to Hitler or Martha Stewart.

Except that bowels of the psyche thing tends to come back. “You made a promise to God. You made a promise to God. You made a—” and I wonder if my “La la la la” really works as an effective cloaking device. And I wonder, if God doesn’t care about broken promises, what does that mean for the promises he’s made that I depend on, including the whole forgiveness and salvation thing. If he doesn’t care that I don’t care about promise-breaking then maybe I shouldn’t be quite so sure about all those promises he made. I really hate the bowels of my psyche sometimes.

So, in order to hold God responsible for keeping his promises, I figure I’m going to have to allow for some kind of penalty on my own broken vows. I’m still working on the details, but I’m thinking that a mild reprimand might be acceptable as long as there are no long-term consequences. Another possibility is that God would consider my intermittent bowels issue punishment enough and call it even.

Until I get this hammered out, I guess “La la la la” is just going to have to do.

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One Response

  1. You mean like a covenant??
    Ah, it’s probably more like a service level agreement – no one takes those very seriously.

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