Our last blog focused on the false promises you make to yourself during or after divorce.
These promises–sometimes called inner vows–are made when you experience deep pain. A false promise is a way to take control of the future so you avoid future pain. It’s a way to claim authority over your life that supplants God’s authority. The previous blog talked about how these vows show up when we marry and cause problems in our relationships. In this blog, we will tackle the process of letting go of inner vows and walking in wholeness.
Cleaning Out the Storage Unit
When you get home from your honeymoon and begin to build a new marriage and blended family, a U-Haul arrives. Only this moving van doesn’t contain furniture for the new house. It carries all your emotional baggage–those inner vows you (and your spouse) tucked away for later. Most of the time, you just move that baggage to a storage unit in your heart to deal with eventually (hopefully never!). The thing is, you can’t hide your baggage forever, not if you want a healthy marriage and blended family. Those issues that have caused you pain over the years will eventually resurface–usually at an inopportune time. The solution? Clean out the storage unit and get rid of those inner vows. Otherwise, like an infestation, they will grow. They will choke out anything good and will take over your heart.
How to Let Go of False Promises
Our first bit of counsel when it comes to false promises (inner vows) is to deal with them ahead of time if possible. We highly recommend premarital counseling as a safe place to talk about these painful areas of your past before you tie the knot. The less baggage you have when you walk down the aisle, the better off you’ll be after you say, “I do.” If you’re already married, you still might consider therapy. When we sit down with couples, here are steps we suggest:
- Reveal. Ask God to search your heart. Psalm 139:23-24 says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!And see if there be any grievous way in me and lead me in the way everlasting!” Ask God to reveal to you any false promises you’ve made. Ask Him to show you any area(s) where you might have put up walls around a painful wound in your heart in an effort to protect yourself from future pain. You might be surprised to discover that some of your inner vows were made long before you were married, possibly as far back as early childhood.
You want to completely cleanse your heart and mind of any of these ungodly vows, so take this step seriously. Look for any deep-seated attitudes and beliefs that might start with “I can’t,” “I won’t,” “This will not,” or “I will never.” Let God shine a spotlight into the dark spots of your soul, bringing these harmful inner vows into the light. Only then can the Great Physician clean out the wound so healing can begin.
- Repent. Ask God to forgive you for trying to take away His lordship and sovereignty in your life. By repent, we mean you must lay it down, turn your back to it, and walk away from it and toward God instead. Your inner vow is a lie made with the father of lies. It was born of pain and suffering. It was never of God, so it is time to lay it at the feet of Jesus and be done with it forever. That might feel very scary but trust us– surrendering to Jesus in vulnerable trust is the safest place you could ever be. Take a moment right now to pray, repent, and turn to God so that you may receive a new outpouring and refreshing from the Lord (see Acts 3:19).
- Renounce. Renounce your inner vows. Abandon them. Put them aside and walk away from them. In doing so, you are giving control of that area of your life back to God. Here, you’re replacing the false promise with a new declaration of God’s control, power, and blessing in your life. Proverbs 28:13 declares, “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (NIV). When we honor the Lord and confess and repent of the sin we’ve been harboring in our hearts, we receive His mercy and open ourselves to experience true joy and inner peace.
- Forgive. Letting go of false promises requires forgiving the person who hurt you. We know this might sound irrational—maybe even impossible—especially if the other person is unrepentant. You might feel inclined to hold on to your pain, thinking your ex or whoever hurt you doesn’t deserve your forgiveness. We understand how hard this can be. We’ve been there ourselves.
Scripture is full of verses that challenge believers to forgive others. When Christ died for you and me, He said, “Father, forgive them…” (Luke 23:34). We may never look more like Christ than when we forgive others–and ourselves.
Ultimately, forgiveness is more for your personal freedom than for the person who hurt you. We can easily become captives of our own bitterness. Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to get sick. Now, forgiveness doesn’t mean you will reconcile the relationship. It is about letting yourself go as much as the other person. And freeing yourself from the burden of unforgiveness will bless your new marriage.
Moving Forward in Freedom from Inner Vows
Healing and freedom from false promises occurs on different levels and during different seasons. As you continue in your blended family journey, you may come across an inner vow that rears its ugly head–and you didn’t even know it existed! You discover that you need more healing and more attention in a particular area. That’s okay. Continue to surrender to Him. Give Him the pain. Be honest about your anger and disappointment. Share your struggle with your spouse, and allow this pain point to bring you closer together. Inner vows only keep you apart.
Satan sees marriage as a threat, and He will try to get a foothold into that relationship by any means necessary, including inner vows. Taking God’s authority as our own is destructive and the enemy knows that! He wants us to hold that shame, anger, and control. When we refuse to let go of them, we open ourselves and our marriage to His attacks. However, we can surrender our inner vows, our pain, and our fear of being hurt again. We can entrust them to Christ, the One who has felt the sting of rejection, unimaginable pain, and deep, deep grief (Isaiah 53:3). When we release our vows into His nail-scarred hands, our hands are open to receive the blessings He offers.
Scott and Vanessa Martindale
Founders of Blended Kingdom Families