Trust: Part 3 – The Journey Of Connection, Construction & Healing

Introduction

As you may recall in my first blog post of this series, I shared how trust affects the brain’s attachment center, develops its joyful identity region, and dramatically affects social, emotional, and physical well-being. Trust has a large impact on the developing brain and affects numerous experiential aspects across the lifespan. While trust can offer us the benefit of strong bonds, it also has the potential to cause deep pain, which many people can relate to at some point in their lives. I know I can.  A breach of trust can leave a deep wound within a healing heart. Let’s dive in together to look at what it means to take steps toward healing after trust was broken. 

 

What does it mean to heal?

One familiar phrase used in the grieving process is “time heals all wounds.” It comes as no surprise that this adage often leaves us hurting without resolution. I have worked alongside numerous clients who are still healing from events, traumas, and hurts that occurred decades prior.  According to Friesen (2), “traumas… are wounds (or injuries) left in our identities that render us less than what God had in mind for when he created us. Traumas block growth” (2, p. 7). This block can lead us to living from our pain, and restricting us from living in belonging with one another. Neuroscience shows us that when early childhood experiences are full of secure attachments, the amygdala expects everyday life to be good. Khouri adds (4), “even if traumatic experiences occur, the presence of strong, secure, grace-based attachments can help mitigate its effects. Without significant, grace-based attachments, our amygdala tends to form an opinion that people are bad or scary” (p. 183).  So what does it look like to walk toward healing when we have experienced attachment-based traumas? According to Friesen et al., (2), “maturity demands that people honestly face their traumas, even when it’s quite painful. Transformation is not achieved any other way” (p. 46). 

 

Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a dense topic that can, at times, make us cringe as we sit with the pain of a deep emotional wound. It’s not something we desire to consider or offer at times due to the fact that forgiveness hurts. Yet, forgiveness can pave the way toward incredible freedom. According to Cloud (1), “if you are going to be your best, healthiest, and highest performing self, you must forgive” (p. 177). It is a way to free oneself from the heavy, negative emotions we may be harboring. Remaining stagnant by holding bitterness or unforgiveness dramatically restricts our own growth. To get a good grasp on the effects that forgiveness has, let’s look at this list of facts from scientific research about how forgiveness affects us (1, p. 177). 

Forgiveness:

  • Improves mental health
  • Decreases rumination
  • Reduces or eliminates painful and damaging emotions, such as resentment, bitterness, hatred, hostility, residual toxic anger, revenge wishes and motivation
  • Reduces depression
  • Reduces anxiety
  • Aids in addiction recovery
  • Helps the PTSD healing process
  • Reduces chronic stress
  • Improves mortality rates
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Resolves ongoing relationship struggles and chronic interpersonal disturbances
  • Increases immune system functioning
  • Decreases heart disease
  • Increase agreeableness and lowers neuroticism
  • Breaks the link between chronic stress and poor mental health
  • Reduces pain (1, p. 177)

 

Let’s allow this list to sink in for just a moment. It is evident that forgiveness affects our whole system and has tremendous influence upon our psychological well-being. For clarification purposes, forgiveness does not mean forgetting or approving of what happened. It also does not mean reconciliation will occur or boundaries are dismissed. Forgiveness offers us the opportunity for our own inner healing to take place…period. 

 

Staying Connected to God 

While I wish I could tell you that forgiveness is quick, it is not always that easy. According to Cloud (1), “you will still have feelings that are real and must be acknowledged until they are gone… it’s a process” (1, p. 181). Staying connected to God during our recovery is a significant part of that process because he can handle our big emotions relationally and graciously. According to Jim Wilder (5), “we found that when we helped people start from a secure-attachment state with either God or people, traumas resolved about six times faster” (5, p. 122). Why does that happen? According to Hutcherson (3), “research on attachment and neuroplasticity confirms that our brains are wired to respond to love and empathy, even when we are in despair. When we connect with another person, or someone empathizes with us and helps us feel seen, the two sides of the brain begin to heal” (p. 18). What hope! Even if we did not form healthy attachments growing up, or a breach of trust has occurred, God offers us a reparenting, secure attachment with him, which facilitates healing. 

 

In Conclusion

There is such beauty in how God intentionally designed us. Throughout this series, we discussed why trust is vital, how trust affects our developing brain’s joyful identity, and ways to begin the healing process when trust is broken. We were created to be in relationship with others and with God. When trust is broken and trauma is experienced, God can use the very thing that has hurt us to heal us as we continue to grow in a loving, secure attachment with Him!

References

1. Cloud, H. (2023). Trust: Knowing when to give it, when to withhold it, how to earn it, and 

    how to fix it when it gets broken. Worthy Publishing. 

2. Friesen, J. G. (2010) Living from the heart Jesus gave you: The essentials of Christian 

    living. Shepherds house. 

3. Hutcherson, W., & Williams, C. (2021). Seen: Healing despair and anxiety in kids and 

    teens through the power of connection. Parent Cue. 

4. Khouri, E. (2021). Becoming a face of Grace: Navigating lasting relationship with God 

    and others. Illumify Media Global. 

5. Wilder, J., & Willard, D. (2020). Renovated: God, Dallas Willard & The Church that 

    transforms. NavPress. 

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