Jimmy Evans - Inner Vows
I wanna talk to you about a very, very common dynamic that happens in our lives, that affects our marriages, really it affects every relationship in our lives. Very common, very destructive, and the biggest problem with this issue is that most people have no idea that it's taking place, and because of that, they don't know what to do about it, and I certainly didn't. When my wife and I got married, 44 years ago, I had never heard anyone talk about inner vows. I had a bunch of them, my wife had a bunch of them, and they got married, and began to have tremendous problems in the way that we related to each other, because we had both made inner vows. Now, an inner vow is a self-promise we make to ourselves, in response to pain or difficulty in life. One of the universal things that all of us have in common is problems and pain. Sometimes very intense pain.
Abuse, rejection, poverty, you know, rejection by the opposite sex, divorce, maybe the divorce of our parents, sickness, serious illness, and in response to pain, the right thing to do in response to pain or problems is to trust God, and to turn to Him and pray. Unfortunately, when we're young, and when we're not believers, even when we are believers, sometimes to comfort ourselves, we don't do this because we're evil, we don't do it because we mean to do something wrong, we just do it to comfort ourselves, and even though it's innocent and normal, very destructive, very destructive, I'm reading a scripture here in just a minute, and I'll show you what Jesus had to say about this, because Jesus said something about it that's very, very interesting. But you know, when we're going through problems in life, this is an example of saying, "No one's ever going to hurt me again".
You know, you're going through just a really, really difficult time, and you say, "I'm never going to let a woman or a man treat me like this again, I'm never going to be poor again, I'm never going to be vulnerable again". And so, it's innocent, and we're saying it to comfort ourselves, because "I don't wanna come back here, I don't wanna come back here, I don't want to experience this kind of pain again, so I'm gonna make myself a promise, I'm never gonna be poor again. I'm never gonna be this vulnerable again, I'm never gonna put myself in this situation". Innocent, but listen to what Jesus had to say about it, because this is interesting. "Again, you have heard that it was said to those of old, you shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord, but I say to you, do not swear at all, neither by Heaven, for it is God's throne, nor by the Earth, for it is his footstool, nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King, nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black, but let your yes be yes, and your no, no, for whatever is more than these is from the evil one".
Now, that's a really interesting comment. Jesus said, "You swear, you perform your oaths to the Lord". When you're making a promise, when you're making an oath, you can only do that to God, in an appropriate way. But if you swear to yourself, or something else, it's evil, and you're saying "Whoa". Why in the world would Jesus say that's evil? Because first of all, in any area of my life, where I have an inner vow operating, Jesus is not Lord of that area, I'll give you an example. So let's just say that I was raised in poverty, and one day I say, "I'm never gonna be poor again". Jesus is not Lord of my finances. You see people who are poor, and they make that inner vow that they don't operate their finances, typically, in a Godly way, because "Jesus isn't Lord, I'm Lord. No one's ever gonna hurt me again", well guess who's not the Lord of your relationships?
In any area, I promise, and I'm saying as a Christian person, because I know you're a Christian, and I know you love Jesus, I loved Jesus, I was a Christian person, and I had multiple inner vows, and my wife also had multiple inner vows operating in her life, and it doesn't mean you're not going to Heaven, doesn't mean you don't love Jesus, it just means in those respective areas, where Jesus is not the Lord of your life, it just means, I mean that you've made an inner vow, it just simply means that Jesus is not Lord of that specific area, and that causes all kinds of problems. You say yourself, "No woman, no man is ever gonna treat me like that again", well let me say this. Not only is Jesus not Lord in an area that you have an inner vow, it causes you to overreact and become extreme in that area.
I have counseled thousands and thousands of couples, and some of the worst counseling situations I've had, it goes back to an inner vow. Back to someone, for example, that had been through a previous divorce, and they said, "I'll never let a woman treat me like this again, I'll never let a man treat me like this again". And see, what happens when you make that kind of vow is you become hypervigilant, and your new spouse is guilty until they're proven innocent. They're not innocent until they're proven guilty. There's not a normal level of trust, is now because I made myself this vow, that no one's gonna treat me like this again, I become this hypervigilant, dominant, protective person that can't be intimate with anybody. Because intimacy requires trust. Intimacy requires vulnerability.
And when you've said, "I'll never be vulnerable again, no one will ever hurt me again", see, when we're hurting, we take it to the Lord, and we forgive, and we ask God for guidance, and we trust God. We make the appropriate response, that way we're healed, and we can go on and be normal. If we don't make the appropriate response, and we make ourself a promise, we can become very, very dysfunctional, and the truth is, we think everybody else is dysfunctional, and we think that we're normal. I've met people who were the most unbelievably abusive spouses, and almost all the time that it happens, they're responding to an inner vow. And when I began to talk to them, and I'll say, "Why are you so dominant, why are you so controlling, why are you so this"?
You'll go back to the circumstance in their life, where they were hurt, I had one man who was one of the worst husbands I've ever seen in my life, totally dominated his wife, his mother was a very dominant woman, according to him, and he said, "Every day of my life, growing up, I watched my mother emasculate my father, and I promised it would never happen to me". And he was one of the most controlling men I've ever seen, and I said to him, "So now you are your mother. But rather than a woman doing it to a man, now it's you doing it to your wife", and he kinda gave me that look, and I said, "You are your mother. You are dominating your wife because you made that inner vow, you are now doing what you said would never be done to you, but now you're doing it to another person".
It makes us, let me say it this way, in any area that you have an inner vow, you're a little crazy. You're unteachable, you're unapproachable. And again, you think it's logical, but Jesus said it's evil. Why is it evil? Because you can't be taught. See, the word "disciple" means "learner". If you're a disciple, it means you're teachable. You're teachable about money, you're teachable about relationships. You open the Bible, you read it, and you learn what it has to say. When you have an inner vow working in your life, you're not teachable. You just, no one can tell you anything, about money, about relationships, about things like that. And so, we want to be good disciples.
Now, I'm saying, inner vows destroy relationships. They at least affect relationships in a very negative manner, but they can destroy relationships. The other things about the inner vows is it creates an inner dialogue, that we begin to have self-talk, that's very negative, "Everybody's against me. Nobody's for me, nobody understands me. My spouse is against me, they're hurting me, they're trying to hurt me". It just becomes a very negative inner dialogue, all because, innocently, not 'cause we're evil, we were hurting, and we made a response to that hurt that made it worse. It didn't make it go away. It may have comforted us, at the time. But Jesus said it's evil now, because, "I'm not going to be able to be Lord of that area, you're going to overreact, you're going to be unteachable, and you're going to have this inner dialogue that's going to be negative", so what do you do about it? You bring it to Jesus. In any area, as I'm speaking right now, because we're gonna break it right now, some of you have operating inner vows that need to be broken now, because of the destruction that it's causing in your relationships, in your marriage, and your life.
Jesus, I come to you, and I say, Lord, I repent. I did not know that it was wrong to do that. I know you didn't, I didn't, okay. And I said I'd never be poor again, I said nobody would ever hurt me again, I'd say, this isn't gonna happen, that's gonna happen. And Lord, I should've trusted you. Listen, I renounce the vow. I repent for becoming God in that area of my life, I didn't know that was happening, but it was, and I renounce the vow. And I say, "Lord, related to money, related to relationships, related to being vulnerable or being hurt, or whatever, I want to be the person you want me to be. I'm not going to make any absolute statements, as though I'm God. You're my Lord, and I forgive", this is a big issue in breaking inner vows, "I forgive anyone involved in that vow, who may have hurt me, or disappointed me, or rejected me, or let me down, or made me feel vulnerable, I forgive them, and I bless them, and Lord, I pray that you will now teach me how to operate this area of my life".
See, when you've had an inner vow operating, you're unteachable, and you're operating on false information, everybody else is crazy, and you're wise, but actually, you're operating on the wrong information, and you're unteachable, listen. "Lord, I submit to You, I submit to Your word, and I submit to wise counsel, to Godly counsel. If there are people that are successful, Godly people that are successful in this area, I want to learn from them and not argue with them. But Lord, I pray You would teach me in this area". Now listen to what I'm saying, it will transform your life and your marriage, to break your inner vows. And to take this pain and put it into the hands of Jesus, and to make him Lord of this area. This is what happened to me, this is what happened to my wife, and as soon as these inner vows were broken, we saw the world in a different way. We saw each other in a different way. And my prayer for you today is every single inner vow in your life is broken now, in the name of Jesus, it's that simple. When you renounce it, when you repent of it, and you bring that area to Jesus, it's broken. And immediately, you begin to see the difference in your relationships.
Allan Kelsey: If you're just tuning in, welcome to Strengths Based Marriage. We have a guest couple with us today. Let's have a look at how their strengths influence their marriage.
Allan Kelsey: Well, I've been looking forward to this time to work with these two, and I'm so glad you guys are here. Vivian and Weston, thanks so much for spending time with us today. We're really eager to talk to you about your strengths, and learn from your experiences, and your use of them, so welcome. Why don't you start by just telling us a little bit about who you are and what you do?
Vivian: Go ahead.
Weston: Okay. I'm Weston, and I do IT security. I have known my wife for maybe a full year now, but, dated, what is it, we were engaged longer than we dated. We've been married ten months, the 11th, and we have a strength-based marriage group.
Allan Kelsey: Good. Well, one of the ways that our viewing audience gets to know who you guys are is not just from your personal stories but also from looking at you through the lens of each of your strengths. And so one of the things I'd like to do is just kinda read off your strengths real fast, just to kinda get us all situated for what's going on here.
Allan Kelsey: And don't say it, but it might be a past reminder for each of you about what your strengths are. Vivian, we'll start with you, okay?
Allan Kelsey: So, number one, positivity, coming right out of the gate, and you just see things, the glass half full, you have a positive perspective about life. Then you follow that with belief, which means that you have these moral or ethically-based values that help to define all of your decision-making, and structures all of your decision-making. And then you have developer, which means you love to incrementally move people along and kinda help them get better, there's something about you that loves to help people get better. And then you have connectedness, which means that you see the thread that God has, that tells a story, but that can join all of these kind of strange points that don't seem to make sense to other people, but they totally make sense to you. There are no coincidences for people with connectedness. And then finally you have woo, which means you just love to win other people over, and so you're the life of the party, you're fun to be around, and it's probably what hooked Weston in the first place, but I'm not gonna throw him under the bus.
Allan Kelsey: Alright, Weston, so you've got restorative, it means you just see things that are kinda maybe missing in people or situations, and you're interested in wanting to bring that back, kind of restore the former glory of what's available or what's present in that situation or that person. You have positivity, also like your wife, so you guys share that. You have strategic, which means you love to begin with the end in mind, so you'll go the outcome, work your way back from that point, and then know you have a plan or a map that will get you there, pretty confident about being able to follow through with that. And then includer, which means that you like to widen the circle, you just like to include people, you feel safer when there's more around, and it just feels good, you know, when that's the case. And then you also have connectedness, like your wife, so the two of you share two of your strengths are similar in that regard, and just love to be able to tell the story. So let's start with the strengths that you share. You both have positivity, is your positivity the same?
Weston: No. Absolutely not.
Allan Kelsey: Okay, let me know, what's going on with that?
Weston: You wanna go first?
Vivian: Well, my positivity, I feel like, is more centered around people, and, I think it's more closely tied to my woo, if that makes sense. But I think for both of us, though, being in negative environments is hard, and so being that we both have positivity, just being able to recognize, "Okay, I'm walking through this valley of, I'm feeling some negative tension, and I need your help pulling me out of this, back to the positivity that we both know is there". But I feel like, for the most part, it's mine centered around people, and making people's day brighter, or helping other people see the glass is half full, or seeing the brighter side.
Allan Kelsey: How about you, Weston?
Weston: My positivity seems to gravitate more as being number two to my number one, which is restorative. So always having an alternative solution for somebody, and so when I can see them come through something, it generates this kind of mentorship, this coaching, this, "Hey, thank you for that, this solution that you've offered", or I can tell a story to somebody about my failures and where I've succeeded, and to tell them, "Hey, don't go down this road", so that when they come out the other end, it would be much easier.
Allan Kelsey: Yeah. It's fascinating to me that you've mentioned mentoring or coaching, because the essence of restorative is that you see something that's not there, and you want to bring it back again. The essence of someone who needs coaching is, "I have something that's missing, and I need somebody to put it in there, or to help me find it". So, it makes perfect sense to me that you gravitate toward that. So you also share connectedness, tell me about that. So, it makes you both pretty good storytellers, but I think you might weave different stories somehow.
Vivian: Go ahead.
Weston: Okay, I'll go first. What is it, for my connectedness, I'm a connect-the-dots kind of person, so when something happens in my life, or a situation, I can always go back to watching the Lord deposit these seeds of where things were growing to the moment when it finally happens, I'll go back, way far back, and like, "Oh, this is why I went from here, A to B to C to D", and then the moment I get to my end game or my end goal, wherever I'm at, whatever that blessing looks like, I can always go back and retrace the steps knowing that it was the Lord that connected this one to this one. As wild and as crazy as it might be, or whatever that journey looked like.
Allan Kelsey: Yeah, how about you Vivian?
Vivian: Well, I'm always looking for the pieces of the puzzle. Like, if something's going on over here, I'm like, "Ooh, I bet that has something to do with this, and had something to do with that, and something to do with that".
Allan Kelsey: Wow. So, I love this, because it so powerfully illustrates how, it's the same word, you know, connectedness. But in your version, it expresses itself one way. In yours, Vivian, expresses it another, and it's purely because the other four strengths pull it into a different flavor and kinda give it a new perspective. It's so interesting to me that that's how it plays out. So you have similar words in your strengths, but their expression is actually quite, quite different. If I take all of your strengths, and look at them in the categories of how strengths can be broken out, then 60% of your strengths, Weston, are relationship-building strengths.
Allan Kelsey: But the same is true for you, though, Vivian, 60% of yours are also relationship building strengths, so I'm guessing maybe you have a small group, or something like that, that you work with, is that true?
Vivian: Yes we do.
Allan Kelsey: Whew, I was out on a limb there, I need to make sure. Well, tell me about that. And why you do it, how does it feed your strengths?
Weston: So, for me, well for my wife and I, when we started our small group, we started a new marriage group for young couples that were newly married, and we went ahead, and we were reading about strengths, and we were so passionate about them, that we decided to start a strength-based marriage group, to talk about how to equip young couples, to understand, new language that we could say, a new language to be able to talk to each other, and discover each other. Hopefully earlier in our marriages maybe than later. But also then give us time to use those strengths that we find out about ourselves, whether we share them or we don't, but how we can learn to love one another in those strengths, so if I do it in year one, maybe year two, three, and four, every year will get better, and better, and better, and so for me, when it plays out in my strengths, since my number one is restorative, even I like to fix things about myself. It's a strive of perfection I will know I never reach, but a strive to be excellent. And better.
Allan Kelsey: Yeah. This program seems to focus on inner vows, and inner dialogue, and there's an element to our inner dialogue that is fed by our strengths. And this is what I mean. If I'm in my relationship with Stephanie, and I get something from her, some interaction happens, and I begin a dialogue with myself in response to that occurrence, it's filtered by my strengths, so I'm gonna say something like, through my achiever, I might want to act on what she said, or through my strategic, I'm going to maybe want to evaluate what she just said. So this inner dialogue, motivated by your strengths, kind of plays a role in your relationship. Can you find a spot like that where it's affecting your relationship and somehow where there's a dialogue that you start, in any given situation, that's filtered by your strengths?
Weston: When my wife, when she's trying to tell me, if she's offering something to me, where she's telling me a story, or she maybe wants me to just listen better, my restorative will kick in immediately, looking for a solution of how to fix this, or how to fix that, and it's not necessarily that I need to fix it, it's more that I just need to just be a better listener, and I know in that, when we've, we definitely had the talk about it, 'cause I don't always have to fix everything sometimes. Sometimes it's better just to listen.
Allan Kelsey: Just to listen, hey, I get it. Vivian, how about you, do you have something, an example that comes to mind?
Vivian: Well, what comes to mind mostly is his strategic side, and really his restorative side. Fixing everything, always has a plan, always wants to fix things, and honestly I feel like that has helped me a lot, 'cause I don't have a strategic, well I guess have all of the strengths at some point, but I don't have a top anything of strategic or analytical or anything, so he's helped me out a lot in that, but I really feel like the restorative is the conversation that comes up where, "Hey babe, I just want you to listen to me, we don't have to have a solution, let's just share in this conversation and story together". And so that comes up for me.
Allan Kelsey: What I love from this story that you guys are sharing is how powerfully the strengths language has provided a way of words, a language for you to be able to communicate with each other, so that you clearly understand what's being communicated, what's being said, and how to understand one another in that way. And obviously it's brought clarity, understanding, and it's accelerated the pace of your communication, like you get me faster, I don't have to say so many words to be understood. So I'm very impressed with that, I love the display that strengths has in your marriage. Listen guys, we've run out of time, but thank you so much for joining us today, I'm so grateful that we got to see you and your marriage, and through the lens of your strengths that you both share.
Vivian: Thank you.
Weston: Thank you.
Jimmy Evans: I love to see stories like that. That's why we do what we do, and an example of the impact these powerful resources can have on your marriage.
Allan Kelsey: Yeah, for example, maybe your number one strength is empathy, and your spouse's strength is to be restorative. Being aware of that is so important, because it will help you to understand how each of you think. Because while someone who is empathetic will feel what others are feeling, a restorative spouse will see a problem and try to fix it. They both want there to be resolution and understanding, peace and growth, but their perspectives are completely opposite, and if misunderstood by each other, can be cause for some really heated discussion.
Allan Kelsey: But trust me, no matter what situation you're in, your marriage can thrive in every area, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. And we wanna help you experience that today, so request your Strengths Based Marriage resources with your gift, and discover the principles you need, to see yourself, your spouse, and your marriage in a new amazing way.