Some Thoughts About Making and Breaking Vows
Vows are one of those things we don't really think about on a daily basis, except maybe if we are getting married. When we think of vows, we think of promises that we make to someone for one reason or another.
The subject of vows is so much more than that!
We make vows in one way or another fairly frequently.
If we do something that was difficult, challenging, or perhaps did not yield the result we desire, we may vow to "never do that again!" Maybe we make a vow based on guilt. If we took an action that took an unexpected turn and affected someone's life in a difficult way, we may make a vow to make it right, somehow.
Perhaps if we as a parent made a decision or did something that seemed to have an adverse affect on our child or children, we may make an inner vow to make it up to them.
We may see someone suffering and vow to do whatever we can to take away their pain.
Vows can be a little tricky because when we made a particular vow, it may have seemed like the right thing to do. However, over time, sometimes vows can boomerang and come back to affect our lives in a negative way.
It seems in modern society we don't take our words as seriously as we should. We don't recognize that just because a situation has changed doesn't mean our vows automatically lose their power. When we forget about a vow we have made and begin to act in ways that are contrary to the vow, we can begin a spiral of events that begin to wreak havoc on our lives, and we may wonder what has happened. We may think we are cursed, or we are just bad luck, or someone up there hates us, or all kinds of things that have nothing to do with the actual cause of a series of unfortunate events.
As I mentioned before, in today's world we mostly think of vows in terms of a marriage. We vow to "love, honor, and cherish" another person for as long as they live. This is fine as long as we made the vow out of love and we remain in that relationship, and that the relationship continues to have a foundation of love.
Then life happens. We may fall out of love. We may make regrettable choices or our partner may betray us or wound us in such a way that we cannot recover from the wound. These are things that happen. But just because we go to the courthouse and get a paper that says that we are no longer married does not neutralize the vows we made to that person. It is important to do some sort of ritual that releases us from the vows we have made when circumstances change.
The nature of the vows we make create the necessity for some sort of statement or prayer or intention or declaration that releases us from whatever the vow originally stated.
A vow is like a contract. It is normally a spoken contract but sometimes it is a contract with our own soul, or with some sort of Spirit or Deity. We may make a vow to a particular religion, or to a particular Spiritual Being, or to an organization of some kind.
Sometimes we are not aware that we have even made a vow. If we say something with great emotion within ourselves that binds us to do something, be something, or make up for something, then we have made a vow.
There are vows of poverty, vows of loyalty, vows of action or inaction. Whenever we say, "I will never..." or "I will always..." these are statements that create an inner vow. Inner vows have powerful repercussions. When you say, " I will always be there for you" or "I will never leave you", those are vows. They may seem good at the time, but when the situation changes, it may create an unhealthy bond with someone. We hear it all of the time in love songs. "I will always love you" or "I'm never gonna let you down" are vows that we may have the best intentions of keeping, but can also backfire and create problems when the situation changes.
When I got married the first time, I assured that husband and myself that the only reason I would leave him is if he cheated on me or was abusive physically. In my mind and because of my religious beliefs at the time, any other reason was not a good reason to leave. After eighteen years, I had to recant that vow because I realized there were other deal-breaking behaviors that were unacceptable. These other character flaws were evident the whole time, but I tried to cover over them, make excuses for them, make up for them, and do more and better things to make things better, until I couldn't do it anymore. That also created an unspoken and perhaps unrecognized inner vow to make it up to my daughter for causing her pain and trauma due to the divorce. I took on myself the weight of the whole situation.
When we make a vow of loyalty or make some sort of agreement with an organization or belief system, those vows are extremely powerful! When we align ourselves with an organization, we are essentially agreeing to be a part of everything that organization stands for!
A few years ago I considered becoming ordained through a particular religious group so that I could have certain benefits of being an ordained minister through a traditional recognized religion. A lot of the things I do are also done in recognized religion under different names, but I ultimately decided against aligning myself with any particular group because I could not align myself with all their beliefs. When you become a member of an organization, join a particular religion, or sign a contract of any kind, this is like a vow you are taking that you agree with an align yourself with the practices of that particular group.
When I recently went to Greece, I went because I had a visitation from Jesus twice and both times he had encouraged me to go. The first time was probably twenty five years ago, and at the time I decided He was not actually asking me to go. I decided it was symbolic.
However, twenty five years later when He showed up again and brought it up to me, I became aware that He actually wanted me to go. He even remarked that it was taking me long enough to get there.
When my luggage missed my plane and I ended up two days without any luggage, I realized that perhaps I was going there to release some old baggage of some kind. I ended up finding the exact spot where I saw Jesus standing in my vision. Unfortunately, I did not see Him when I actually got there but I had some sort of past life memory of being there and a vision of a vow I had made when I was there. I had vowed to return.
The only way to fulfill that vow was by actually going to Greece and somehow finding that little village on a remote island.
At that moment, no stars fell out of the sky. No "aha" moment. No fireworks. And no Jesus. But I left that village different. I had done what I promised to do, even if it was centuries later. The vow was fulfilled. And I was free.
I admit it would have been a lot easier if Jesus had just told me about the vow while I sat in the comfort of my home and I could have reversed the vow without having to travel halfway around the world. But in my soul I felt a shift.
I share this story because I believe that sometimes the things that hold us back or cause us problems are not the things we think. We strive and strive to do better, to be better, to make up for some perceived wrong, and so many other things and yet our lives don't seem to improve all that much. And then one day, something happens and we realize what has been holding us back all along.
Remember. A vow is a promise you make to someone else, to yourself, or to God or your understanding of the Divine. When life changes and the vow is no longer applicable to your current timeline, it is important to do some sort of ritual releasing yourself or others from whatever vows or promises you have made.
A lot of times, other emotions are involved. Guilt and shame are huge motivators when we make vows. I have written about guilt and shame here. A lot of organizations and religions use guilt and shame to encourage us to make vows of one kind or another. If we believe that money is evil, we may make a vow of poverty. If we believe we are sinners in need of a savior, we may make a vow to give our soul to Jesus to save us from hell. I wrote about that here.
So how do we rescend a vow that is no longer valid in our lives?
It is important to realize the power of our intention and our words. We are creators. We created the atmosphere in which the vow became a powerful force in our lives and we can create the reversal of the same atmosphere.
With our words, we can declare that a vow has fulfilled its purpose and is no longer viable.
You could say something like this: "I hereby declare that the vow I made: .........(name the vow here)... is no longer active in my life. I rescend this vow and declare it null and void through all time, space and eternity. I am free and all those who have been affected are also free. And so it is."
You may feel something and you may not. But life will change for you. And that is the point.
If you want to say the prayer and believe it will help but you are a bit unsure of what vow you may have made that is affecting your life in a non-beneficial way, you can say a general prayer to release yourself from any non-beneficial but forgotten vows or vows that are no longer beneficial to all parties concerned.
An important thing to remember is that life is impermanent and unpredictable. We don't know what will happen tomorrow, or even in the next hour or the next minute. Vows hold us to a particular situation and that situation may have changed. It is okay to renegotiate contracts when situations change. Holding yourself or someone else to a vow that may or may not be viable in the current state of affairs is not healthy to you or to the person or situation.
The only thing we can really promise is to do our best. We cannot promise things that are not in our power to promise. We can't really promise to always be there for someone, even though it sounds good. We can promise to do our best to always be there.
We promise and vow things to ourselves, to others, and to our understanding of the Divine with the very best of intentions, usually. We have every intention to love, honor and cherish the other person. But some days we may be grumpy and some days we may be angry and some days we may not feel very loving. And things may happen to change the situation completely. All we can really do is the best we can do.
Vows need to be made with love at the core of the vow. We are human. We will fail. We will falter. Life is unpredictable and situations change. But if we only vow to love and to do our best, then we wil be okay.
Give yourself a break today. Give other people a break who may have broken a promise to you. Give the Divine a break and recognize that life is impermanant, unpredictable, and completely flawed. But it is also wonderful, and amazing, and spectacular. Live every day in the very best way you can. Try not to make promises you can't keep. And recognize when some promises are no longer valid for you to attempt to keep. Make amends if you need to. Apologize if you have wronged someone. But don't attempt to keep vows to the detriment of your soul and your peace of mind.
If you feel you have possibly made a vow that you are unsure how to break or need help navigating the details, you can make a private appointment with me and we can work through it together! I see clients via Zoom, phone and in person at my home office in Winchester Virginia.
If you are interested in attending an event, purchasing one of my books, or checking out who I am or what I am about, feel free to visit my website! I look forward to connecting with you in some way!