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I put vows in the same category as curses, because the healing process is similar for both of them, but vows are just a little bit different in their nature. Vows come from within, and they don’t attack our identity like curses do. They don’t specifically pronounce harm on our lives, but they can be just as dangerous and harmful in the end, and they can be just as much of a roadblock on our journey.

A vow is an eternally-directed statement, usually beginning with “I will . . .” or “I will never . . .” that represents a commitment to a specific behavior or lifestyle. Webster’s Dictionary defines it as a solemn promise upon which we are bound to act, and vows can indeed be binding.
Some vows bind us to good things (like marriage vows—“till death do us part . . . I do”), but others of them can keep us bound as slaves of our pain. “I will never be like my father.” “I’m going to make her pay for that, if it’s the last thing I do.” “I will never show my feelings again.” “I’ll never let anyone get close to me again.” “If he does that one more time, I’m going to . . . .” “No one can ever find out what I’ve done.”

These kinds of vows—the kind made in bitterness, anger, fear, and resentment—keep us from accepting the life God promised us. They keep us in slavery to unforgiveness and to our own thirst for vengeance. We say, “I will never be like my father,” and yet by our own statement, we are avoiding dealing with our pain the same as our fathers did. We say, “I’ll never let anyone get close to me,” and then let the pain of rejection harden our hearts to the point that we’re causing the very same pain to others.

By making these kinds of commitments, we miss out on so much. We miss out on healthy, life-giving relationships that will bring joy into our lives. We miss out on being good fathers to our children, because we are spending too much time trying not to be bad ones.

And perhaps we shouldn’t be like our fathers. Perhaps they were bad men. I’m not contesting that in the least. But I’m not talking about justice here. Vengeance is the Lord’s, after all (Deuteronomy 32:35, Psalm 94:1). I’m talking about your heart.

When we make that kind of commitment out of bitterness and unforgiveness—as a reaction against something bad—that bitterness stays with us as long as we carry the vow. Healthy vows are made from a place of wholeness and healing—a commitment to something good. The difference is choosing not to look at your earthly father as the example of what not to do, but to look at your Heavenly Father as the example of what to do and choosing to follow after Him.

The problem with basing our character and behavior on a negative example (on what not to do) is that we’re quite likely to make the same (or even worse) mistakes in our own way. Without having a good model to look at, we will still be operating out of our pain and causing as much hurt to others as we received and tried so hard to avoid. This is an easy way to tell if you have unhealthy vows in your life. Are you focused on what not to do, or what to do? Where is your example coming from?

Continue to Breaking Unhealthy Vows ->
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