Growing up in my family, weakness was unacceptable. In my father’s eyes, weakness equaled failure and failure was not an option for him or his children. The world further amplified this belief with sayings like: Only the strong survive. It is survival of the fittest. Strengths are the path to success and greatness. One of my core beliefs became: WEAKNESS=VULNERABILITY=FAILURE The world teaches us to hide our weaknesses and insufficiencies and hope no one sees them. This hiding can permeate all of our relationships in the work place and community, and be evident in our most intimate familial relationships with spouses, children, parents, and siblings. This end result is often fear, lying, and manipulation to keep our secrets safe. Our enemy, Satan, also has a strategy in regards to weakness. He constantly reminds us of our weak and deficient areas. His goal is to convince us our circumstances will never change. Our Creator sees things differently. He sees: WEAKNESS=STRENGTH=FREEDOM. Paul wrote, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness. So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, NLT). I like Paul’s strategy. He challenges us to know God is strong in our weaknesses. We acknowledge them, surrender them, and seek His strength, His direction, and His truth. We don’t have to hide our weaknesses from the God who loves us. Like the Apostle Paul, when we begin our adventure to freedom in Christ it is necessary to have our beliefs redefined and think in a new way. In my case, the redefining of weakness began when God revealed the protective vows I made as a child. Vows are conscious or unconscious commitments we make with ourselves that we can’t fulfill. The intent of a vow is self-protection or self-defense, and it generally occurs after an actual or perceived infraction done to us by ourselves or others. An example of a vow would be, “I will never allow anyone to hurt me again” or “I have to be the best at everything I do.” According to the Bible, a vow brings a curse on us and creates an open foothold for the enemy in your life where he works to further reinforce lies and wound us. The truth is we were not designed to be self-protectors; that is and always will be God’s job. I made two childhood vows that prevented me from having healthy relationships. First, I would never allow myself to be vulnerable beyond a particular point with others. Second, I vowed I would always take care of myself. As you may guess, these words affected my relationships with my family and friends. Ultimately, they were devastating to my relationship with God. With these two vows enacted in my life, I was the picture of a very stressed, controlling, wounded, and deceived woman who feared people and God. Take my word for it, not a pretty picture! When God revealed the vows I made the choice to renounce them, surrender them to Him, and ask Him to cleanse me of the effects of these powerful words. My healing has been a journey. As the Lord reveals the past to me I choose to accept His offer to step into freedom. Perhaps, like me, you made vows throughout your childhood and want to be free of them. You can pray something like this: Dear Lord, I confess that I made these vows _______ (name them), and I am sorry. I surrender these vows back to you; please cleanse me of their effects. Lord what are you returning /restoring to me? Amen The moment I prayed, I was cleansed of the effects of the vows I made. The Lord returned peace, friendships, the ability to be vulnerable, and most importantly, the ability to rest and trust in His protection. Praise God!! Over the past two years since I surrendered these vows, I can see the evidence of His cleansing and restorative power. I am more vulnerable in relationships with friends, my children, and my husband; my trust and relationship with the Lord has deepened; and I can enjoy life more and sleep through the night because of the restored peace and rest. I now acknowledge God as my Father and Protector, and weakness has been redefined in my life. Freedom is an adventure with Jesus Christ. He offers it to all of us. Jesus wants us to bring our perceived weaknesses, insecurities, and insufficiencies to Him. There are often lies from the enemy and subsequent protective vows that may need to be broken. Let Him speak Truth into Your Life. He wants to share some freedom with you. He is knocking on the door of your heart – will you answer the door?