Sunday, June 3, 2012


Without realizing it, many of us have hidden self-protective strategies (often called defense mechanisms) that prevent deep emotional wounds from ever healing. All too often, these unconscious tactics we fall into to when we seek to protect ourselves from further hurt, end up becoming a wall or blockage which prevents or hinders the light of Christ from ever penetrating and healing the wound.

Unbiblical Vows. “An unbiblical inner vow is a strong decision, oath, or declaration of what we will or will not do in order to protect ourselves from pain or further hurt or to obtain what we feel we need. These vows are usually made unconsciously in the midst of a wounding event and involve relying on ourselves for protection rather than trusting in God and His power1.”

Imagine you were hurt repeatedly by the way your father or mother treated you while you were growing up. Zoowey’s dad criticized her constantly as a little girl, adolescent, young woman, and still does as an adult. She grew up believing the lie that no matter how hard she tried, it was never good enough. Somewhere along the way she cut herself off from her heart.  This vow of self-protection developed into an unconscious strategy.

Hidden Strategies“A strategy refers to a largely unconscious plan, method, or series of maneuvers that help us obtain what was vowed. Faulty self-protective strategies often grow out of hidden lies and vows2.” As one hurt piled up on another, Zoowey unwittingly began to follow a stratagem of never being vulnerable, authentic, or offering her heart from anyone.

In the short term, her hidden vow and strategy seemed to keep her father’s words and actions from damaging her more deeply. It also seemed to protect her from being hurt by others. But as the years passed, it was as though she died on the inside. She longed for deep connection with others and with Jesus. But the vow and strategy became a prison that kept everything out, including the healing she yearned for. 

Zoowey lived behind her walls of self-protection throughout her adolescence, into young adulthood, and was approaching forty.  She became friends with a couple who was skilled in facilitating inner-healing prayer. At first she pretended that everything was just fine in her relationship with this couple. Then she let them in just a little bit and told them bits and pieces of her story. In this friendship, as days became months, and months morphed into years, the prison walls began to crack and crumble.

A year or so ago the real Zoowey went through a spiritual metamorphosis and emerged from her oppressive cocoon. With Jesus’ help she renounced3 the lie, vow, and strategy. She began to develop a listening relationship with God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As she listened, little by little He began to call her forth into being the woman He had created her to be. About three months after she escaped from her self-made penitentiary, she slowly, but surely, began to radiate the love of Christ. She also forgave her father not only for what he had done to her, but also forgave him for how his abusive words had affected her as a woman. 

The work that God did in Zoowey as she surrendered her self-protection and fell into the arms of Jesus reminds me of Psalm 124:6 & 7 in The Message:
Oh, blessed be God! He didn't go off and leave us. He didn't abandon us defenseless, helpless as a rabbit in a pack of snarling dogs. We've flown free from their fangs, free of their traps, free as a bird. Their grip is broken; we're free as a bird in flight.

It also reminds me of the song “You Raise Me Up” that musically describes what God did in the heart of Zoowey. Have you heard and seen this rendition of the song by “Selah?” I guarantee it’ll touch your heart.

1 Rusty Rustenbach, A Guide to Listening and Inner-HealingPrayer, (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2011), 96.
  2 Ibid, 96.
  3 Renouncing lies, unbiblical vows, and faulty strategies is an act of biblical repentance. One definition of repent in the New Testament is “to change one’s mind or purpose” (1995 New American Standard Bible with Strong’s numbers, footnotes, cross-references, and lexicons).

  How about you? Where are you in your journey? Take the time to tell your story, ask questions, make comments, and possibly to emerge from your cocoon. 

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