Early in my adulthood, I suffered bouts of insomnia. A constant churning in my mind led me to lie awake questioning my value and my choices. I’d ponder, “Why haven’t I met the man of my dreams?” Or thoughts such as “I’ll never be good enough to start my own business” would stream like a CD on repeat.
In my mid-twenties, I landed a job I wasn’t quite mature enough to handle. I had more responsibility than others who shared my title, and I took jobs away from senior designers. I was constantly disappointing someone and found myself going to war in my mind at night. Negative thoughts surfaced that I wasn’t good enough. It seemed there was nothing I could do to improve my situation. Eventually I verbalized the ugliness: “My life will never change for the better as long as I am in this job.”
Unable to please coworkers, I endured lots of scoffs and sneers that resulted in feelings of rejection. In the wee hours of the morning, I would hear their criticism as if it was playing on a loop while I was being flooded with devaluing thoughts.
I felt I had no control over the scrutiny, so I quit my job, bruised and emotionally broken.
Not only did I struggle in my work life, but I also endured a string of unhealthy relationships. Initially attracted to the “bad boy” look, I seemed to always end up in complete shock when he did something really bad. A perfect example is my first love; I was like a moth to a flame. I didn’t slow down to see the red flags.
After several months, problems started to arise. I found myself mulling over every argument in the wee hours of the morning, thinking “I’ll never be loved by anyone better, so make it work.” So during the day, I twisted myself up in knots trying to change into the woman he wanted. The harder I tried, the worse our relationship got. And even though the writing was on the wall, I was blown away when he betrayed me a year later. He cheated on me and never looked back.
While he blazed a trail into the arms of his next girl, I fell apart. I shut down, allowing my thought life to convince me I was better off without love in my life. In my pain, I dug my heels in and made declarations like, “I’ll never be cheated on again,” and “I’ll never let myself fall in love and get hurt again.”
Eventually my thought life caught up with me, and I began to verbalize my bitterness. “I’ll never find someone who loves me.” The toxic cocktail of a low self-image mixed with feelings of unworthiness left me certain I would always be alone.
I spent the next decade flowing through relationships that were not right for me. I experienced physical and mental abuse and stayed far too long with a man who was never capable of being “Mr. Right.”
As my friends were getting hitched, and I was simply a bridesmaid, I made careless statements to project an image that I was “okay” with not being married. I would say silliness such as “I’ll never be married.”
My Own Worst Enemy
After my life reached an all-time low, I began to question God. As I blamed Him for my lot in life, He began to show me how I set myself on a path that kept me miserable and unfulfilled in every area of my life.
I was unaware of the toll that bitter judgments and inner vows were taking on my life. I was derailing my future by making inner vows in an effort to protect myself from further pain. All of my so-called protective walls had become a prison from which I could not escape.
My negativity was hindering me from fulfilling God’s plan because I wasn’t breathing life in my future. Instead, I was essentially killing it with my own words. This realization brought new meaning to Proverbs 18:21, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…”
My judgments resulted in agreements with the enemy. My statements paved the way for Satan to torment me—keeping me focused on my inadequacy instead of seeing my potential.
I’ll Never Say “I’ll Never” Again
Frankly, it’s tiring lugging around a decade worth of vows and resentments. I had flooded my life with negativity and untruths, and I was desperate for an escape route.
Before I hit bottom, relief showed up as I started attending a small Bible church. The more I delved into His Word, the more I realized the enormity of lies I had bought into. I learned “I’ll never” vows have tremendous life-shaping power, whether I truly meant them or not.
God did more than gently show me the error of my ways; He also showed me the road to freedom. When judging myself and traveling down a path contrary to God’s Word, or doing something that triggers memories of an old vow, I employ the following steps:
• Ask God to reveal the vow or judgment 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 and forgiving nature.
• Praise Him for lovingly healing me of self-inflicted wounds.
By taking this step of faith, I found that God transformed my mind, allowing me to see myself as a woman of worth. I am no longer the young girl who couldn’t do her job right, nor am I the one who is not worthy of a man who truly loves her.
What Vows Have You Made?
Were there moments in your childhood that you claimed, “I will never be like my parents”? Did you experience rejection as a young adult and vow to never be vulnerable again? Ask God to reveal the ways you unknowingly sabotaged your destiny. Trust that God’s Word says you no longer have to stay a victim of your mistakes. Seek freedom by letting His love resonate in your heart.
If you find you are in a place where life feels 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 you. Seize the promise made in John 8:32, which says “…you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”