False vows and becoming what I hate

I held my newborn daughter in my arms and made a vow to her.

They'll never hurt you like they hurt me.

I was young mother, only 22. But with the fierce clarity of motherhood, I vowed to protect my daughter.

A few years later we left the abusive church of my childhood and I made another vow--this time to myself.

I'll never be like them. I will be different.

Years have passed. In my twenties, it seemed like time stretched out before me--infinite. I had so many years to change, to become better. I felt strong and confident in my ability to not repeat the mistakes I'd seen. I felt sure I could re-invent myself, cast aside the trappings of my childhood and the sins of my family. I felt sure I could move on.

Back then, everyone talked of moving on. As if we could just pull up stakes and decamp to a new land. But how do you pull up stakes on your own soul?

I had no patience for those who chose to stay, those who were unwilling to raze the whole thing and start afresh.

It is with a broken kind of shame that I realize I have failed to measure up to those shining, immutable vows I made. I do not have the power to change myself. I have tried with everything I am to be different.

To no avail.

I am as broken and as frail, as prone to failure and error as those I so brashly condemned. I heard my voice the other day--booming out an authoritative dictate to my children--and I felt sick. The realization came with such utter humiliation:

I have become what I hate.

I am no better than those I sought to condemn.

Is this how the child of an alcoholic becomes an alcoholic herself? Is this how the child of abuse becomes an abuser herself? Is this how the running away is always running in circles?

If, thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?

What prideful thoughts lied to me about my ability to change myself? Wasn't it that tiny, seductive lie that I am....better than them?

Yes. Pride is the parent of phrases like: I will never.

The truth is that there is no difference between me and those who hurt me. I can see in myself the dastardly potential for making the same mistakes--perhaps in a different context but the same mistakes, nonetheless.

I can wreak pain and havoc. I can cause suffering and fear. Jesus, deliver me from my false vows. Hide me under the shadow of Your wing. For this is my only hope:

But there is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared.