There is a Presence inside you. There is a Presence inside everyone. Though you may have long ignored it, perhaps even willfully turned the other way, that divine Presence is alive and well and growing. It is a pulse, silently tapping out the rhythm of the ancient dance of longing for something more, something bigger, something to mark your every step as holy, important, and good.
That Presence knows you. It knows who you are and who you long to be. It knows that the life of the Divine is your life, the love of the Divine is your love, and the Presence of the Divine is expressed in, and through, and as you. That Presence is now calling you to step into its tender embrace to learn the words and music and movements of your dance of divine Presence—Soul Vows.
Welcome To Your Soul Vows Adventure
In 1997, my marriage disintegrated in rather dramatic fashion, and I was catapulted into a spiritual life I didn’t know existed. At first, I did not recognize my divorce as a divine invitation; I was too angry and too frightened. I froze into a relentless state of panic.
My one relief was a daily conversation with “Dear God” in my journal. Somehow, all that furious scribbling activated a wise, loving voice inside me. For three years, I turned to that voice every morning, sobbing out my story and begging for help.
Help always came — sometimes through life, sometimes through dreams, sometimes through friends, but most consistently through the voice on the page.
I began to trust that voice. I discovered there wasn’t anything I could not say, any feeling I could not express, any fear I could not expose. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was giving birth to the spiritual practice of deep soul writing.
The Sticky Muck Of Vows
One of the first topics I hashed out with “Dear God” was the sticky muck of vows. Marriage vows, I wrote, don’t mean a damn thing! So are all vows suspect? Are vows by their very nature hopeless? Can a person ever declare vows that are true and holy and good? And live them — actually live them — always, forever?
Get The Latest From InnerSelf
A few days after I blasted out my questions, I stumbled upon The House of Belonging, one of David Whyte’s early books of poetry. In the first few pages, I read in a poem called “All the True Vows”:
All the true vows
are secret vows
the ones we speak out loud
are the ones we break.
The second I finished reading Whyte’s “All the True Vows” I raced to my journal. “Dear God!” I wrote, “I know the vows I want! I want vows to me, to my self, to my soul, to You!” And with that declaration, my divine voice and I began long, intense conversations, diving deeper and deeper together into the well of my soul to find my true vows.
Releasing Old Underlying False Vows
About a week into our conversation, I realized that before I could declare my new, true vows, I had to uncover and release the old underlying false vows — the fears and beliefs that had held me hostage since childhood. It took a lot of deep soul writing to excavate them, but once I’d dredged them up, looked them in the face, heard their stories, and thanked them for their service, I was able to let them go.
I prayerfully told each false vow, “You can go now,” and — wonder of wonders — they left. For the first time in my life, I felt the genuine breath of freedom.
From this clean empty place, I was ready to call in my true vows. I sensed the import of what I was doing, so I didn’t rush. I spent weeks in dialogue with “Dear God,” talking over all the possibilities and trying some on for size.
My Soul Vows
My new set of vows was the most exciting thing that had happened to me in years. Here are my soul vows. I speak them aloud every morning, adding the pronoun I in front of each. I pray my soul vows in the order of the chakras, from bottom to top.
7. Pray Always
6. Seek Truth
5. Surrender. There is no path but God’s
4. Come from Love
3. Honor myself
2. Live in Partnership
1. Unite to Create Good
These words never fail to inspire or surprise me. On any given day, one of them will reveal a layer of meaning I never noticed before. Let me give you one example.
For years when I said, “I come from love,” I thought I was saying, “I, Janet, come from a state of love. I do my work with love. I write with love. I treat people with love. I emanate love.” This was a lovely sentiment, but it also felt a bit like a burden. When I said this vow, I heard, “Gee, Janet, you better come from love, or you’re not living your soul vows.”
Then one morning, as I was staring at the words and speaking them aloud, I felt something shift in my heart. I stopped. My hands flew to my chest, and I burst into tears. “I come from love” doesn’t mean I have to generate love; it means I was generated by Divine Love. Love doesn’t come from me; it comes from my Divine Source. That’s a huge difference in meaning — and it only took me nine years to realize it! This deeper understanding has led to a huge shift in how I live this vow.
I long ago stopped pretending I know what my soul vows mean. I recognize them now as lifelong companions whose beauty and depth I can never exhaust.
Soul vows bear little resemblance to business contracts, legal agreements, or even most marriage vows. Those kinds of human documents outline the promises, obligations, and responsibilities of the parties — who does what, what happens when they do, and what happens when they don’t.
Your soul vows are very different. They’re simple. They’re short. They don’t require any details or definitions or clauses, and they don’t lay out consequences. And yet these few simple phrases will carry you far beyond the benefits of any human partnership, all the way into the joys of divine partnership.
Soul Vows and Soul Purpose Are Not The Same
Your soul vows are not the same as your soul purpose. The two work seamlessly together and support one another, but they’re not the same thing. Your soul purpose is your why — the destiny embedded in your being.
Your soul vows are your how. They describe how you choose to walk this earth — not just at work or at home or in a relationship, but in every moment of every day. They are your grace points. They are how you receive and spread grace.
As you live your soul vows, you become a fertile container in which the seed of your soul purpose can take root and flourish. If you long to know your soul’s purpose, finding your soul vows is an ideal place to begin.
Soul Vows Are Qualities or Behaviors
At first glance, soul vows appear to be a short list of qualities or behaviors. “Oh, great,” you might think. “A list. How boring!” But Mary Anne Radmacher, a creativity teacher and the most prolific artist and author I know, disagrees.
“A list is a door to seeing. A list is a door to knowing. A list is a door to deeper understanding,” she says. But not just any list can be these things. In every creativity workshop she teaches, Mary Anne asks participants this question: “Which is a more successful shopping list — the one you make right before you walk out the door or the one you develop over days of noticing what you need?” The answer is always the same — the list you make over time. Why? Because as the awareness of need arises, you jot it down, which triggers you to remember it and then take action. Noticing, memory, and urgency are all heightened by the simple act of making a list.
Soul Vows: A Sweet Love Pact
Soul vows aren’t a list of obligations; they’re a sweet love pact between your divine Self and your God. So of course they’re unshakable. Why would anyone walk away from all that love? And they are unbreakable because they describe who you are at your core, your essence, your very soul. To break them, you would have to stop being you — and that, by definition, is impossible.
When you speak your soul vows, you are calling your full divine Self into this particular space-time experience. Your presence on this earth at this moment is not your total Self. It is an expression of that Self, one face of that Self, but it is not your full, multidimensional Self.
Each time you speak a holy quality, you invoke more and more of your full Self to be present in your current human expression. Visualize your soul vows as stitches reaching through the space-time barrier to gather more and more of the wildly expansive Self that is your potential fullness. That fullness contains previous expressions of you, future expressions of you, and radiant facets of your share in divine Presence. Over time, as you live your soul vows, you weave together a larger, more fully present version of your Self on earth.
In the fourteenth century, Meister Eckhart described this transformation as “God must simply become me and I must become God — so completely that this ‘he’ and this ‘I’ share one ‘is’ and in this ‘isness’ do one work eternally” (Breakthrough: Meister Eckhart’s Creation Spirituality in New Translation by Matthew Fox).
A woman in a Soul Vows course described her “isness” transformation in slightly more modern terms: “Before soul vows, Wendy 1.0. After soul vows, Wendy 2.0!”
But your individual soul vows do something beyond building your personal expanded, 2.0 Self. As each of us calls our expanded divine Self into this space-time experience, together we build the global divine body. That’s the real power of your soul vows and the real power that alters your experience here on earth. Soul vows are a living construction of a whole and holy Divine in you, through you, and as you, which builds collectively into the expression of the divine in us, through us, and as us.
Surely this is how we create heaven on earth.
©2015 by Janet Conner. All rights reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Conari Press,
an imprint of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC. www.redwheelweiser.com.
About the Author
Janet Conner is a writer, speaker, teacher, retreat guide, and radio show host with one compelling message: what you seek is inside. She is the author of Writing Down Your Soul and The Lotus and the Lily. She created The Soul-Directed Life radio show for Unity Online Radio. She lives and writes in Ozona, Florida, a tiny town on the Gulf of Mexico. Visit her at www.janetconner.com.
Watch a video: The Perfect Prayer (with Janet Conner)