Broken Promises

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on

Some 20 years ago, my then husband and I attended a Dwight Yoakam concert in New York City. We were in our 40s, and our lives brimmed with the hallmark of blessings: an amicable marriage, a stable home, two young, healthy children and a future showing nothing less than promise.

Dwight was one of my favorite musicians, and my ex-husband went out of his way to not only secure the concert tickets, but also backstage passes to meet the singer. After the foot-stomping concert, which was worth the one-hour tardiness of the singer, the audience milled around. Waiting to be admitted to the private backstage party, we encountered a married couple in their 20s and started conversing. We learned that the couple traveled from England, I kid you not, to attend the concert. They didn’t have a sad story but were just starting out. I detected our one-time vulnerabilities, our long-ago future uncertainties in them that all seemed to have worked out for us. We were blessed.

I glanced at my then husband, who was on the same wavelength. He looked at me approvingly because he sensed what I was about to do. I gifted the couple our backstage tickets. I did have a condition.

“Please drop us a letter (this was pre-internet times) and let us know how it was meeting Dwight and the other band members. We would appreciate that,” I explained as I gave them our address.

They were more than happy to oblige and promised us that they would send us a follow-up letter.

Though my ex-husband and I never mentioned the promised letter again, with my rose-colored glasses cemented on the brim of my nose, I anticipated that the letter would materialize.

My ex’s motto was, “Don’t expect anything, and you won’t be disappointed.”

After about three months passed, it was only then that I knew the couple had “moved on” with their lives and didn’t take the time to write the letter.

Frankly, if I had been in the woman’s shoes, I would have fulfilled the promise. My father raised me, repeatedly saying, “Promise low. Deliver high.”

For the last 37 plus years, I also have followed a program for living that is based on vigorous honesty.

Plus, I am a writer by trade. Writing a letter would have been easy for me. In the couple’s defense, everyone has different talents, interests and priorities. I mean, maybe the couple sat down and experienced a debilitating case of writer’s block and quit. Who knows what could have happened? Maybe a tragedy occurred.  Maybe …

I will never know the reasons behind their broken promise. For me, one broken promise can be like a domino effect, and I begin to ruminate about so many other broken promises made to me. In fact, if the broken promises that I’ve received in my life were shattered pieces of quartz and feldspar, I could construct a granite counter that stretches the length of a football field.

Over these many years, I’m learning to put my faith into real rock — myself — and not depend on rocky humans. My life story may amount to a backlash of unmet promises, yet I do not have to contribute to the scrap pile. I, in fact, can raise above the scrap pile.

Coincidentally, my friend sent me a quote that said: “Don’t treat people as bad as they are, treat them as good as you are.”

I have learned the hard way that life is inherently unmanageable, and I’m powerless over people, places and things. The only power I possess is over my own behavior. So, do I feel bad about giving that young couple our backstage tickets? Rarely, if ever now. If given another opportunity, I would guilelessly do it again, again and again. Let the couple have their backstage views. I have the best seat in a house built on gratitude, humility, compassion, authenticity and a wealth of other gifts that I can bank on without disappointment.

Faith Muscle

11 thoughts on “Broken Promises

  1. Stancy, Liked your dad’s advice ,”promise low ,deliver high”I am inspired to follow it.I learnt a hard lesson when people exploited my goodness. Now I do not allow anyone to exploit me. We have to use things and care for people and not the reverse
    Lots of love and prayers

  2. Stacy, I love your heart and this story so much. Broken promises~I’m currently dealing with one now. My life has been a series of them~and like you, I was raised to rise above it (your words are so eloquently chosen). I have told the truth in one of the largest school lawsuits~the person who put me in that position received half a million and then another 250,000 and I received comments like, “She doesn’t remember~she’s had a TBI~I retired early with a disability while this person carried on with more money than anyone can imagine. I told the truth. I told the truth in marriages that didn’t last. Recently, I told my truth and am now in an exclusive relationship with Jesus alone. I’ve learned that all I can do is treat people the way God would. I stopped looking for man to fulfill things as I always had high expectations~and I know that just because I would do something in a certain way does not mean others will. Heck, I don’t even understand how younger people can’t even say “thank you” or acknowledge good deeds. We operate on a like button. I’m proud of you. I love who you are and how far you’ve came after being dealt the hands you’ve endured. And like you, I would still give away the passes. Bless you my friend. Sending love, hugs, and prayers daily! Karla 💕

      • Stacey, what a kind and beautiful response. You’re a winner too. And I’m in such good company. I’m so glad to know you on this journey. Sending love and hugs. ❤️

  3. Another beautiful story, Stacy. So poignant and real. It left me thinking about those people who never really thanked you properly or shared their experience backstage. In my heart, I find it hard to imagine they just ducked out of it. I imagine a scenario where they lost your info and tried to reach you, but couldn’t. I’m also thinking that it was so appreciated and beautiful for them. I wish you could have closure to know what actually happened. But sometimes what seems like a broken promise is an unfortunate circumstance. The intention was there, but something got in the way. It’s much more impersonal that way.
    The best part was reading that you felt good about your decision and would have done it again. I felt a twinge of sadness remembering better times when I was married, not realizing what the future would bring. Such innocence and hope we had when we were younger.
    And here we are today. Looking back and realizing all the lessons we have gained from every one of our life experiences. Your generosity certainly is a part of you and I believe that it comes back to you in other ways. Much love, my friend!

  4. Hi Stacy,
    Beautiful! I loved how you are nit bitter of the broken promise. And you mentioned so many things could have happened. It could have been lost in the mail…I do have some mail that never arrived in Brazil.
    I like to believe that people keep promises, but most just have good intentions.
    Blessings to you!

  5. When this post appeared in my WP Inbox I’d clocked the headline but hadn’t opened the mail to read in full your story. I knew automatically what it meant, for me of course as I set about righting the drift away from keeping a promise that I had privately made to myself but in respect to another. Not just any ‘another’ but a person, as many are, struggling with crippling debt and having only recently surfaced from turmoil after the death of a loved one. I simply picked up the phone and made an actual phone call to a land-line number. I am glad to have done so too. I had kept not only my promise to me but also committed to the making of a lasting friendship. The latter aspect flowing quite naturally from my own promise to myself. And I am the only person who knew of the promise, except of course you, Stacy. Not the detail. That would be nuts. But the deep innate knowing made and found in the heart of each and everyone of us. And in abundance if only we said so a little more often. I have always been a bit dopey in other people’s eye’s. Gullible some say. But as I write now I am so glad of this dopiness and gullibility.

    Although I have never been into drugs I live in amongst active drug users and their dealers and a few days ago a young man took his own life. Sure, his behaviour was psychotic and at times menacing but when he was alive he’d asked me for help with the cost of electricity tokens. Others had turned him away fearing his demanding ways and not wanting to be seen as a soft touch.

    I thought and felt differently, he knew my stance on drugs and being drug free and also he knew that I remembered him in better times when the chance of a lasting friendship existed on mutual terms. So, gave him, then, enough money to buy a month’s electric tokens.

    Now that he’s past and as I hugged his sobbing, collapsing in my arms Mother she stares me in the eye’s and in that ‘from the heart’ way simply says, Thank You. He had bought electric tokens and had also passed on my message of love to her as I’d asked when giving him to do when giving him the money.

    Your story speaks to so many of us Stacy…. there go I except for the grace of God… for me such divinity lives deeply and lastingly in my heart I can’t say that I am a fan of religion and its institution I can say I believe in my constitution and the strength my own convictions to act on what my heart knows, as is the case for us all.

    So, Stacy… keep writing and keep believing too…for me we meet the people who most show us that which we need to see in order to know ourselves better… precious.

    • You are amazing, Alec. Your tender story brought tears to my eyes. Everyone gave up on the man. HE gave up on himself. You did not, Alec. YOU were the light in his life. YOU are the light that shines through the cracks of his mother’s broken heart. YOU are a light in my life too and always help widen my scope of view! 🤍

  6. This is interesting, and I always wonder about people like this. I wonder if they ever talk about “that couple we met when we went to see DY.” I wonder if they just blew it off as a kind gesture and didn’t think you were serious about the letter. I mean backstage passes are a big deal, especially years ago before social media. Maybe they wrote a 3 instead of a 5 and you never got the letter.

    You have a wise approach, though. I mean, you’re right. Ruminating doesn’t bring the letter to fruition, but I do wonder.

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