Hand Me Downs


“A self-promise is an agreement with ourselves that binds us.”

Thom Gardner

I received many of my sister’s clothes growing up, because I was the youngest daughter. Hand me downs is good stewardship. But in the emotional realm, there are unbeneficial kinds of hand me downs we can pass on to our children and others.

As long as I live I will pursue emotional wholeness, for that’s how God has wired me. My motivation to have my heart made whole is to have closer connections with God and people. Lately I’ve been looking at my responses to hurt and the lies I’ve believed or decided. Vows and judgments not only rule and ruin our lives but are handed down to those closest to us.

Let’s say a close friend betrayed me. What I decide about the offense becomes a judgment: “No one can be trusted. All close friendships will eventually turn on me.” Making a judgment puts me in the position of a judge. God the Father though, is the only one who has the right or authority to judge. In Matthew 7:1-2 Jesus commands us not to judge. “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” When we pass judgment onto others we in essence condemn ourselves. Judgments are sins that need to be confessed so God’s forgiveness can be received.

The outcome of judgments is a vow or promise I make to myself to live a certain way. Typically vows are “I will” statements. “I will never trust anyone. I will never allow someone to become close to me.” Vows place us in the driver’s seat controlling the situation instead of sitting in the back seat allowing God to be in control. Repentance and renouncement abolish vows. We need “to disown and reject” them as no longer having authority in our lives, returning control to our wise and sovereign God.

Vows and judgments become strongholds in our life which dictate our lives and are passed down to our children. It all begins with a lie we’ve believed. Just as an apple tree can only produce apples, we too produce from the beliefs, (lies or truth), within our hearts. After vows and judgments are confessed and renounced then the lie has to be pulled out from the heart with new seed of truth planted in its place. As we confess truth, the ungodly patterns that have held us captive, will be released. (II Corinthians 10:5)

The hand me downs I want to leave to my children are a legacy of truth, emotional freedom and intimacy with God. My desire is for my kids to be clothed in those.

“The promises we make to ourselves usually show up in the way we live, and they become an operating system that governs our lives.”

Thom Gardner

Relevant Reflections:

1. What decisions or judgments have you made regarding a recent offense?

2. What self-promises are your forms of protection or control?

3. Repent, renounce and replace the lies with God’s truth.

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4 Responses to Hand Me Downs

  1. Carolyn Tobias says:

    This is GREAT…..the legacy we leave our children is indeed important, because each generation will need to be wiser, stronger than the last!!! I’m on my soapbox, again, just heartily agreeing with you 🙂



  2. Mary Kay Jensen says:

    This is beautiful, Norma. xo MK


  3. Shelly Peterson says:

    Norma- I feel this is the best definition I have heard of what a judgment and a vow really are. I had never considered the danger of handing down strongholds but had been noticing this reality lately in the life of some people I care about.

    • nldonovan says:

      Thank you Shelly. I’ve been reading “Healing the Wounded Heart” by Thom Gardner and it’s helped give clarity. I see how I’m still living out of those vows from my childhood. And I’m breaking them off!

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