Do you ever get the feeling something is holding you back from getting the promotion you desire, walking down the isle at your wedding, saying hello for the first time to your child or experiencing the true joy that comes through living a life of pure peace?

Somewhere in the middle my climb up the career ladder, I landed a job that maybe I wasn’t quite mature enough for. I struggled to understand the politics of the company. I had more responsibility than the others who had my title and took jobs away from the more senior designers. I seemed to always be disappointing someone no matter how hard I tried. I would have particularly bad days and find myself making comments like “things will never change for the better as long as I am in this job.”

Nothing I did seemed to please anyone. Coworkers or management was always criticizing me. No one took me under their wing and mentored me. I felt like I was fighting a losing battle everyday, and eventually, bruised and emotionally broken, I left that job and never looked back.

Not only did I struggle in my work life, but I also seemed to jump from one bad relationship to the next. Something always drew me to the wrong guys to date. I used to joke that if there was a loser in a two-mile radius, I’d be completely attracted to him. I aggressively went after the “bad” boy, and then fell apart in complete shock when he did something really bad to me. I remember once meeting a guy in college and was in love instantly. I remember thinking it was awesome that he dumped his girlfriend for me. He jumped from one relationship to the next without a single regard to the young woman he was hurting. And low and behold, I was totally blown away when he did it to me nearly a year later when I was so deeply in love that it destroyed me. He cheated on me, dumped me and never looked back.

This break up damaged me in ways I’ve just started to understand. After this trauma, I spent the next few years shut down, thinking of myself as unworthy of love. I can remember saying things to myself like “I will never let myself fall in love and get hurt again. No one will ever love me.” Pair a low self image with feelings of unworthiness, and I began to identify my worth by my career title rather than who I truly was in God.

Since I was a young girl, I longed to be a wife and could not understand why I never met the “one”. As my friends were getting married, and I could barely get a second date, I started making careless statements in order to outwardly project to my friends that I was “okay” with not being married even though I was shedding tears on the inside. I would say silly things like “I don’t need a man to be fulfilled in my life. I never want to be married.” I even went as far as to say ridiculous jokes like “I will never marry. I will just be the editor or creative director of a magazine and will just have flings with hot men.”

When my friends started having children, I convinced myself that I could date Mr. Wrong, raise his children, and that would make me happy. I can recall saying, over and over, “I’m fine never having a baby of my own.” Oh, how I think back now and truly regret those words.

What I’ve realized now all these years later is that I set myself on a path that kept me single, unmarried, childless and miserable. The many declarations and oaths I declared made it so that I could not fulfill God’s plan for my life. In every instance, I made these inner vows in an effort to protect myself from further pain. But all I really did with my words was create agreements with Satan. My statements paved the way for the enemy to torment me and have power through me.

Have you ever made an inner vow or promise completely unaware of the lasting, negative effect they have on us? I know I’ve made many. Even now as I am two years into trying to have a second child, I find myself (if I am not careful to guard my mouth and protect my heart) easily thinking and uttering comments like, “I’ll never get a complete family.” And no sooner do the words leave my mouth do I instantly know the potential damage I’m causing myself and my family.

What I have come to understand is the “I never” vows have tremendous life-shaping power, whether we really understand what we are promising or not. The honest truth is I was held captive for all those years in my ignorance as it says in Isaiah 5:13 “Therefore my people have gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge.”

I made my vows out of hurt, suffering and sorrow. I didn’t realize I was making statements that were keeping me trapped in my pain. My inner vows, which had been spoken as a wall of protection, had become a prison I couldn’t escape from. I wasn’t breathing life in my future. I was essentially killing my future with my own words.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” Proverbs 18:21

I have come to truly understand what that verse means. It only took until I was 40 years old for me to get a clue, and, obviously, I still tend to speak before thinking sometimes.

Where I have grown in knowledge is in my understanding that with God vows and promises based on lies can be permanently broken! I know I can turn to God when I’ve spoken death into my life, and have Him bring my future back to life.

When I find I’ve said something that could be a new vow or done something that triggers memories of an old vow, I turn to the tools taught to me in freedom ministry and do the following:

• Ask God to verify to me what vows I’ve made
• Seek forgiveness for believing and speaking lies into my life
• Ask God to show me truth
• Willingly come into agreement with His truth
• Honor God’s mercy, grace, love and forgiving nature
• Praise Him for healing me of old wounds

Through this freedom process and lots of prayer, God has helped me identify myself as a woman of worth. A purposeful daughter. I am no longer the girl who couldn’t do right in her job, nor am I the one who is not worthy of a man who truly loves her. God also showed me that even though I lost so many babies, I don’t have to suffer through the lie that I spoke so long ago that it was okay to never children of my own.

What vows have you made? Were there moments in your childhood that you said “I will never be like my mom” or “I will never get hurt by a man again”? What ever lies you spoke in the form of a vow, know that you no longer have to stay a victim of those vows.

John 8:32 says “…you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

The truth you seek is with your God who loves you. If you find you are in a place in your life where things are stifled and dreams are not coming to pass, seek God. Ask Him if there is a vow you’ve made, and if so, seek to break the hold it has on your life.

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