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Part of growing up is learning what does and does not work. And our success depends on committing to doing what’s good and trying to avoid the rest. But often we make premature vows in our early days that no longer serve us well as we get older. And many times we’ve forgotten they’re even in operation as we assume this is just an unquestionable fact of life.  

For instance, as a kid we might have witnessed our dad’s stoicism and made a commitment to never show our emotions ourselves. Or perhaps we were made fun of after sharing something important with others and we decided at that moment never to share our vulnerable hearts again. Or maybe we were praised for doing well in school or sports and the promise we made to ourselves was to never fail.

Often these young vows contain elements of truth. As such, they can fuel our behaviors for years undetected. But later in life we might start to wonder why, for example, we struggle so much with emotional expression, cultivating true intimacy despite our deep desires, or why we’re also so hard on ourselves. Nothing in our present life seems to explain it. But clarity is gained as we rediscover those forgotten vows from years ago.

And with greater maturity we must now consider if these are noble vows to honor and keep, or misguided vows to break and discard. While there’s wisdom in not letting our emotions get the best of us and staying grounded to complete the job at hand, is it true that being a man requires us to be emotionless? And, to be sure, there are risks in sharing our hearts with others, but wisdom comes in counting this cost and not through shutting our hearts down altogether. Likewise, intentionally cultivating our gifts doesn’t mean we can’t extend to ourselves grace whenever we fail in learning new things.

In the end, revisit again those forgotten vows of your youth. You might be operating on faulty assumptions that don’t serve you well today.

Photo by awar kurdish on Unsplash

Dr. Corey Carlisle

Licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist - providing Christian counseling and soul care to individuals and couples, with a special emphasis on developing the masculine soul. Suwanee, GA 30024

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