A Vow By Any Other Name

July 20, 2006

For those with any Judeo-Christian upbringing, we are warned about vows. If you haven’t been duly warned, let this passage of Scripture be warning enough about letting casual promises to God slip out of your mouth.

Anyways, one of the fallacies about vows is that they have to be promises to God. More often, a vow is a promise to yourself. These can be much more devastating.

As I was going through therapy for lie-based thinking, I was lead to a very simple, almost mundane memory from third grade. During that class, I was caught by the teacher in a lie (“Yes, I did my homework, but I lost it on the way to school” I believe it was). In the memory, I stood in front of the class as she made an “example” out of liars. You would think that this was the source of the pain in the memory. It wasn’t. It was on the way home as I nursed my emotional wounds, that I said to myself “I will never let anyone make fun of me again.”

That is a vow. My life became bent around fulfilling that vow.

This meant I could never allow anyone to finish ahead of me. Think of how that would affect conversations, friendships, driving on the freeway. Marriage. And again, marriage.

My mother kept all my report cards. In the first three years of school I got average grades. And the comments were always variations of “Michael is a pleasant boy and enjoys lots of friends and life in general. He could put a little more effort into his work.” After third grade until post-graduate work I maintained near a perfect 4.0 average. And the comments about my happy-go-friendly attitude also left.

The friendly man finally came out again as I let go of that vow.

What vows do you have to let go of that you made early in life?



  1. Ouch.

  2. When I was young, I believe I said something to myself like “I will not let anyone hurt me ever again.” I have definitely seen a reluctance on my part to get close to other people in relationships. Do you think this may be why?

  3. Wow, this is powerful.

    I’ve come up with two more lies that I need to root out, but the statements with them are more about what other people won’t do (accept me), rather than what *I* will do.

  4. TBM…so what hurts? The idea that we have vows or a particular one?

    Rick: That vow would exactly explain what is happening in relationships.

    Alli: Well, a statement we believe about someone else is certainly not a vow (after all, we can’t hold others to what we believe) but it can be another kind of lie-based thinking

  5. How’s this for a vow (as opposed to lie-based thinking)?

    “I will NOT chase a man. Just won’t do it.”


  6. That one is good! I doubt it sprung up as a child however (unless the boys were pulling your pigtails).

  7. Enjoyed a lot! » »

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