Here’s Why Trust is Conditional

Here’s Why Trust is Conditional

There’s a quote I found recently that said, “My love is unconditional, my trust and my respect are not.” Intimate partner and family relationships suffer the most confusion with the concept of love, trust and respect. It’s a mistaken belief to assume that someone we love is also someone we trust and respect. I can love and bless someone, but that does not mean that I rely on that person nor that I will want to emulate them.

For now, I’m going to zero in on trust. Our character may be on the line with many people, who believe that loving, while not trusting, is unfaithful, judgmental and grudge-holding. I want you to ask yourself, “Would I want a child I love to trust someone who’s offended them without their offender proving that they care about what they’ve done?” If your answer is no, well done. Now, it’s time to apply it to you.

Specifically, I want you challenge yourself to see that in intimate and familial relationships, we are not designed to be oppressed by the tenuous anxiety that love equals trust. Trust by definition as a noun is firm belief, reliability; and is synonymous with conviction, assurance, confidence. Trust is also a verb, which means to rely on, bank on, be sure of. Reputations are built on a person’s ability to prove their trustworthiness.

Trust is a dynamic condition that is either being strengthened or broken. And if we’ve had our trust broken, it is a fact that it only grows in certain conditions. Thus, trust is conditional.

TWEETABLE Tweet: Trust is a dynamic condition that is either being strengthened or broken. And if we’ve had our trust broken, it is a fact that it only grows in certain conditions. Thus, trust is conditional.

Even with God, there is no such thing as knowing God and being intimate with him without pursuit and faithfulness. We can knock on the door and God will open it, but that’s not the same as searching for him with all our heart. When God says, “When you look for me with all your heart, you will find me,” (Jeremiah 29:13) is in fact a whole-hearted process, a singular focus that does not make excuses, blame others, feel sorry for oneself, begrudge the process, self-indulge, and so on.

God loves us and we are inherently worthy, but the degree to which we are trusted by him is conditional to the level we are faithful to uphold his reputation and his purpose. If this is true for God—and he’s not considered a grudge-holder or unfaithful—how is it not appropriate for us?

Those who minimize us often minimize themselves. That’s their problem, not yours. Stay focused on what is real for you. More specifically, ask what broke your trust and what do you need to see happen to restore it?

TWEETABLE Tweet: Those who minimize us often minimize themselves. That’s their problem, not yours. Stay focused on what is real for you. More specifically, ask what broke your trust and what do you need to see happen to restore it?

Acknowledgement and restitution from the offender are ongoing and communicated in tandem or together. Written below are some ideas written by Leslie Vernick, LCSW, in her book, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage that identify what trust building involves:

  • Full admission to the wrongdoing—no justifications, wrongdoings are not excused as a loss of control due to life history, illness, fatigue, your behavior, et al.
  • Detailed recognition of how the wrongdoing impacts you and your children.
  • Devotion of effort for the long-term growth of trust without complaint or resentment. This needs to be seen as a life-long pursuit.
  • Effort will be spontaneous and creative without expectation that they are off the hook.
  • No demands for forgiveness of wrongdoing.
  • Detailed identification of patterns of controlling behaviors and entitled attitudes.
  • Life-long accountability, accepting feedback and criticism; does not wait to be in trouble and caught but honestly confesses that they regressed into behavior that harms your trust.

(I have condensed Vernick’s ideas in the above list.)

When we don’t hold trust-breakers to this conditional dynamic, they get sicker, we get sicker and the generations of children who witness no accountability for mistreatment remain confused about safety in intimacy and family. We can end that confusion as we remain wise to hold trust-breakers to the same standards God has for us.

Mary Ellen Mann
Mary Ellen Mann
Mary Ellen Mann is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice in Denver (visit www.manncounselinggroup.com). After attending a Christian college, she did her graduate work at Columbia University. Recently she co-founded Last Battle, LLC and helped develop the first interactive website for survivors of sexual violation, www.lastbattle.org, to help survivors, family and friends of survivors, Christian leaders, and professionals who care about this population. Her book, From Pain to Power will be on the market September 22, 2015. Mary Ellen lives in Denver with her husband and their two sons.
You Steady Me

You Steady Me

I usually write about emotional abuse because my “Christian” husband emotionally abused me for years. As a domestic violence advocate, I often hear from those who have been abused by partners who claimed to love them, and that they thought they loved. Many of these have experienced sexual abuse, either from their partner, or as children.

I find that both the emotionally and sexually abused often believe:

The abuse they’ve experienced was somehow their fault, and
God can’t possibly love them if He allowed their abuse.

Satan is so good at using evil deeds others commit against us to twist our thinking. Do you struggle with believing either of these, even sub-consciously?

Neither of these beliefs is true.
Your abuse was not your fault,
and God loves you more than you can possibly imagine.

Perhaps you know logically that God loves you, but find it hard to feel His love in your heart. Being betrayed by someone you loved and trusted can seriously affect your ability to feel safe and cherished again, especially by an invisible God.

I recently heard a song by Steffany Frizzell Gretzinger of Bethel Music that helps me feel Jesus’ love for me. It’s called “We Dance.” Here is a link to the song on YouTube, and the beautiful words:

“We Dance”

You steady me
Slow and sweet, we sway
Take the lead and I will follow
Finally ready now
To close my eyes and just believe
That You won’t lead me
Where You don’t go

When my faith gets tired
And my hope seems lost
You spin me round and round
And remind me of that song
The one You wrote for me
And we dance (x2)

And I’ve been told
To pick up my sword
And fight for love
Little did I know
That Love had won for me
Here in Your arms

You still my heart again
And I breathe You in
Like I’ve never breathed ’till now

When my faith gets tired
And my hope seems lost
You spin me round and round
And remind me of that song
The one You wrote for me
And we dance (x4)

And I will lock eyes
With the One who’s ransomed me
The One who gave me joy for mourning
And I will lock eyes
With the One who’s chosen me
The One who set my feet to dancing
We dance (x4)
Just You and me

It’s nice to know I’m not alone
I found my home here in Your arms
It’s nice to know I’m not alone
I found my home here in Your arms
It’s nice to know I’m not alone
I found my home here in Your arms

 

Yes, Jesus does love us, and has written a song for each of us to dance with Him. While you may not be able to hear this song today, know it exists, and listen for it. When you do hear it, you will then be ready to dance . . .

Our Contributing Authors
The Last Battle Blog aims to provide meaningful tools and information about the issue of sexual violation. We offer a way to express yourself, as you engage in your own personal awareness and share your strengths with others. Our goal is to cover a variety of topics, stories, ideas, and to create a blog that is beneficial and honoring to those who read it. Last Battle’s contributing authors help make this happen.
Traumatic Bonding—An Oxymoron Only Your Brain Understands

Traumatic Bonding—An Oxymoron Only Your Brain Understands

Anything intimate, personal or powerful brands itself into our nervous systems. We usually associate this with romantic love, or becoming a parent and feeling the connection to someone we love with our whole heart. We can also have that same intensity—intimate, personal or powerful—with abuse and violation and that’s where trauma comes in.

Trauma simply defined is an experience
where you were rendered utterly powerless
to act on your own behalf.

For some of us, that take-over occurred so early in our lives that we didn’t have a baseline to know we ever had it to begin with. Such foundations make it all the more probable that I would be drawn to people who would throw me off kilter, out of control, and hence, I am engineered from early life experience to get them stable, secure, happy, whole. Enter marriage #1 in my early 20’s and other subsequent boyfriends, who just wanted to use me.

Trauma bonds are a term originated by Patrick Carnes in his book, The Betrayal Bond. In this seminal work, he says, “Fear deepens bonding. Traumatic violence in relationships [especially if positive episodes intermittently present] greatly increases the intensity of the attachment bond” (88).

Neuroscience, as well as countless investigations, show that fear intensifies all human attachment, even in all forms of vertebrate species studied, including birds, dogs and primates. A growing body of evidence indicates a neurochemical scarring can occur throughout the body. This means that severe trauma can leave a mark that can be discerned in every system of the body. That is how pervasive the impact of terror can be. (Robert M. Post, M.D., “Transduction of Psychological Stress into the Neurobiology of Recurrent Affective Disorder,” American Journal of Psychiatry 149, no. 8 (1992): 999-1010, as cited in P. Carnes, The Betrayal Bond, 89).

This is a validation/relationship coaching blog entry. “How so?” you might ask. Because of the following reasons:

1. If you are suffering…

from flashbacks, triggers, nightmares, panic attacks and weird compulsions, it’s just your sweet, hard-working nervous system trying to figure out the difference between then (dangerous bonding that used you) and now (bonding that you determine cares about your long term best interests).

2. You may have to look at relationships differently.

You may need to consider going after intimacy, friendships, and work environments that might be a bit on the predictable side. Maybe a bit boring.

Personal side note:
If your nervous system is anything like mine, I remembered talking myself into marrying my uber safe fiancé. I had to talk myself into bonding with someone who didn’t bring crisis into my life. He never freaked me out, you see. He never questioned my judgement or took power from me so I hardly found him interesting. He was comforting, regular, and had no ulterior motive. He’d be where he said he was, give what he said he was going to give, take care of what he said he’d do and so on. When I was crispy-fried from something that triggered me while in our early stages of marriage, he’d check in and clarify his intent. The man was built for my recovery, and the “me” I still continue to become.

3. Mentally strengthening exercise

Inhale for 4 counts, hold for 1 count, exhale for 8 counts. As you exhale remember, “I am Nervous System Special Forces. I will not let the bastards get me down. I will get the help I need and the reinforcement I need. Even the Special Forces work as a team. I have the right to have a team—bonded by respect, understanding, skills and faithfulness. I made it out of the worst part. I can do this, too.”

Mary Ellen Mann
Mary Ellen Mann
Mary Ellen Mann is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice in Denver (visit www.manncounselinggroup.com). After attending a Christian college, she did her graduate work at Columbia University. Recently she co-founded Last Battle, LLC and helped develop the first interactive website for survivors of sexual violation, www.lastbattle.org, to help survivors, family and friends of survivors, Christian leaders, and professionals who care about this population. Her book, From Pain to Power will be on the market September 22, 2015. Mary Ellen lives in Denver with her husband and their two sons.
The Beattitudes Last Battle Style

The Beattitudes Last Battle Style

In Nadia Bolz-Weber’s book Accidental Saints, she challenges:

“What if the Beatitudes (in the New Testament) aren’t about a list of conditions we should try to meet to be blessed? What if they are not virtues we should aspire to? What if Jesus saying “blessed are the meek” is not instructive but performative—that the pronouncement of blessing is actually what confers the blessing itself? Maybe the Sermon on the Mount is all about Jesus’ lavish blessing of the people around him on the hill side, blessing all accidental saints in this world, especially those who that world-like-ours didn’t seem to have much time for: people in pain, people who work for peace, instead of profit, people who exercise mercy instead of vengeance.”

In this list of Beatitudes Last Battle style, I wanted to make sure I saw you and conveyed that you knew you are honored. Since this list is not exhaustive, let’s fill in the gaps together. I want to issue these beatitudes frequently. We are designed for this recognition.

So here are the Beatitudes Last Battle style.

  • Blessed are they who stand in the unknown & hope all the same
  • Blessed are they who fear the night.
  • Blessed are the truth-tellers & bubble poppers.
  • Blessed are the silently hurting who aborted and/or relinquished their children.
  • Blessed are those who don’t have the luxury of not-believing in God.
  • Blessed are they who rise and meet the demands of the day, while suffering flashbacks.
  • Blessed are they who mourn alone because they have pain no one can see.
  • Blessed are they who reach out for help, while struggling to know who to trust.
  • Blessed are they who shed tears for the pain of those they know, deliver meals & write encouraging texts.
  • Blessed are they who doubt God & choose conflict over false peace.
  • Blessed are the children who tell what’s happening to them without knowing if someone will care.
  • Blessed are they who have lost family & friends in their efforts to stand up for themselves and/or their children.
  • Blessed are they who have been tender to those hardened by pain.
  • Blessed are they who seek to heal in the dark & in the dust of others’ forgetting.
  • Blessed are they who parent with humility & open hearts after suffering childhood abuse and neglect.
  • Blessed are they who vigilantly protect the innocence of others, after their own has been robbed.
  • Blessed are they who give sacrificially after their generosity has been exploited.
  • Blessed are the spouses, the therapists, the pastors, the writers, the publishers, the attorneys, the parents, the siblings, & the medical community who shoulder—like good shepherds—the wounded and lost lambs of God.
Mary Ellen Mann
Mary Ellen Mann
Mary Ellen Mann is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice in Denver (visit www.manncounselinggroup.com). After attending a Christian college, she did her graduate work at Columbia University. Recently she co-founded Last Battle, LLC and helped develop the first interactive website for survivors of sexual violation, www.lastbattle.org, to help survivors, family and friends of survivors, Christian leaders, and professionals who care about this population. Her book, From Pain to Power will be on the market September 22, 2015. Mary Ellen lives in Denver with her husband and their two sons.
You’re a Freakin’ Awesome Leader, Ladies

You’re a Freakin’ Awesome Leader, Ladies

Excerpt from the chapter, “Your Legacy” From Pain to Power: Overcoming Sexual Trauma & Reclaiming Your True Identity (pages 155-157)

Dear Princess Warriors,

Your legacy is like a one-hundred-dollar bill. It doesn’t matter if it has been wrinkled, and folded or even torn. It’s always worth the same. Your value is inherent, endowed by God. Your legacy is what you choose to do with your value.

Princess Warriors, you are built to lead through connection and investment. Make no mistake that abusers and the evil one hurt you in these very areas so that you would decide not to use these gifts. Reject these lies. Because you are the first and last of your kind, no one in all of history will be able to connect and invest like you.

Daniel Amen, M.D., a widely known psychiatrist, wrote the book, Unleashing the Power of the Female Brain. In it, he discusses the unique capacity women have to be extraordinary leaders. He notes that in general, women are designed neurobiologically to provide the following qualities of leadership:

  • Women have more empathy than men do.
  • Women have more worry than men do and are concerned with the welfare of others.
  • Women have more self-control than men do.
  • Women are more collaborative and are able to bond or show more connection with more agility than men are.
  • Women have greater powers of intuition or gut feeling than men do and are usually correct in their assumptions. (Summarized from Dr. Daniel Amen, M.D., Unleashing the Power of the Female Brain (New York: Harmony, 2013), 41.

We are forces and leaders, which helps explain why the Evil One wants to destroy us. Your legacy starts with standing up for yourself—and this is work filled with dust, sweat and blood. Standing up for yourself is a mighty and often messy act that is necessary if you are to depart from the people who brought darkness and confusion into your life.

I work with too many women who are afraid to let other people down, so they work around the pain of their abuse. They continue to interact with their abusers. They attend family functions where the perpetrator sits at the same Thanksgiving table. They continue to work in an environment where they are sexually harassed. They remain married to their rapist. (Husbands force sex on their wives far more than any of us would like to think.)

Until you stand that you will not tolerate the stealth attack on your soul, you will not be able to empathize with yourself or offer empathy to others. Consequently, your legacy-filled will lack effectiveness. Your power will be limited, and God’s kingdom will not grow in the way only you could have grown it. If you lack self-respect and continue to entertain the status quo, you will not heal. Yet when you bring fear and shame-based behaviors to an end, your legacy will gain traction.

Mary Ellen Mann
Mary Ellen Mann
Mary Ellen Mann is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice in Denver (visit www.manncounselinggroup.com). After attending a Christian college, she did her graduate work at Columbia University. Recently she co-founded Last Battle, LLC and helped develop the first interactive website for survivors of sexual violation, www.lastbattle.org, to help survivors, family and friends of survivors, Christian leaders, and professionals who care about this population. Her book, From Pain to Power will be on the market September 22, 2015. Mary Ellen lives in Denver with her husband and their two sons.
To Be Brave is to Defy the Lies

To Be Brave is to Defy the Lies

Excerpt from From Pain to Power: Overcoming Sexual Trauma & Reclaiming Your True Identity
Chapter 12 “Jesus is the Perfect Model for Love” (pp 144-146)

It requires bravery to defy the temptation to treat ourselves and others the way others have treated us. If I have been rejected, I will be tempted to reject myself, my needs and my priorities. If I have done this to myself enough, I might wish I didn’t reject others, but I will likely sour into someone who rejects the needs and priorities of others.

But when we turn to God, he says, “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten” (Joel 2:25). I assure that he redeems the lost years.

For years I was told that I was crazy and worthless.

God restored what was lost. He redeemed my life—all of it. Now my life is built on the total opposite of the years when significant people in my life kept negating me. I have to warn you, though, that as you heal, you will realign, change, and sometimes end past relationships. This came as a surprise and a disappointment to me. I had no idea that my healing would end so many relationships. However, there is cause for celebration, because all of my trauma bonds are gone, and God has more than restored my social structure with people who get me and trust that I have something of value to offer to others.

The redemptive work of God, even amid the losses that sometimes result, is brought home to your heart in his promises. I am here to convey that God’s promises are true. “I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs” (Isaiah 41: 18).

Think about Jesus’s conversation with the woman at the well in the gospel of John, chapter 4. She was a Samaritan, a woman who had many husbands and now was living with a man. She would venture alone to retrieve water because she was a public outcast in her “impunity.” Rabbis at that time would walk the long way around Samaria to avoid being defiled by the religious and racial half-breeds known as Samaritans. The story of Jesus asking the woman to draw some water for him is a layered story of forgiveness and redemption. It involves ethnic and religious shame and even the shame of a woman who had been alienated within Samaria.

And there is even more going on in this story. Jesus was also redeeming the story of Dinah, the daughter of Jacob and Leah. Centuries earlier, Dinah was raped by the Canaanite prince Shechem (see Genesis 34: 1-2). As Jesus did a work of redemption in the life of the Samaritan woman, an outcast, he was offering redemption in the life of the Samaritan woman, an outcast, he was offering redemption to all women who have been silenced and shamed after they had their innocence taken without permission.

The Son of God stepped into the middle of the shame—every layer of it—and announced total freedom from guilt. This was not only for the Samaritan woman. Notice that she shared her story of redemption with an entire village at a time when women did not speak in public. J. Lee Grady makes this point, connecting Dinah, the Samaritan woman, and women living today:

Jesus answered Dinah’s cry. . .Jesus, our compassionate Savior, broke both cultural and religious rules to bring His miraculous healing to this forsaken place. He headed straight for the heart of the issue, stood on the ground where Dinah had suffered, and announced freedom. He found a woman who bore the same shame Dinah did. And there, sitting next to the well of Jacob, He poured out His miraculous healing into her heart and set her spirit free. Today, He will do the same for any woman who has been abused. (Fearless Daughters of the Bible: What You Can Learn from 22 Women Who Challenged Tradition, Fought Injustice and Dared to Lead; Grand Rapids: Chosen Books, 2012; 178-179).

My wounded heart needed evidence that God was paying attention to my pain and to my struggles. I found that God’s promises are trustworthy and they are healing. “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” (Isaiah 49: 15). We are built as physical people needing tangible proof. Look below for ideas to generate the awareness of what and how God is redeeming you where you are today.

Consider these to do’s:

  • Allow God to give you the vision to know what it is you need.
  • Write down the things you need to see happen for you personally, professionally, among your family or social connections.
  • Ask God for the special capacity to detect that he is at work.
  • As a separate exercise: Note and write down whether you have experienced redemption in any other fashion in your life. Did you get the scholarship? The promotion? The opportunity to overcome a fear? Did you get the encouragement you needed when you were hopeless? Did you pray for insight or strength and he delivered on it? Making note of this can provide important data so you can remember your worth to God and continue to defy the lies often left behind from violation.
Mary Ellen Mann
Mary Ellen Mann
Mary Ellen Mann is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice in Denver (visit www.manncounselinggroup.com). After attending a Christian college, she did her graduate work at Columbia University. Recently she co-founded Last Battle, LLC and helped develop the first interactive website for survivors of sexual violation, www.lastbattle.org, to help survivors, family and friends of survivors, Christian leaders, and professionals who care about this population. Her book, From Pain to Power will be on the market September 22, 2015. Mary Ellen lives in Denver with her husband and their two sons.

Pin It on Pinterest

0

Your Cart