Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
Given the extraordinarily frustrating, somewhat frightening, and frequently fouled-up times in which we live, I encourage all of us to look beyond “the madding crowd,” as the expression goes, to the biggest picture, the genesis of all pictures of the affairs of mankind, to the affairs of God.
The same God Who, from the mystery of eternity, spoke His words and blew His breath and set spectacular universes and extraordinary creatures into the very first of His creations: time; the same Who prompted prophecies to keep us informed, prepared, and united when others among us, both seen and unseen, would engineer division in an attempt to conquer–both intended and unintended consequences be damned.
Fast forward to this time in which we live, for such a time as we have been set.
(I know; I’d pick another time, too, especially if what those prophecy scholars say might be coming up very soon, but here we are. How shall we now live, as this series is titled, is, then the focus.)
The reason for today’s discussion is to suggest one term that in my view might sum up at least part of what has caused the entire world in the 21st century to go bottom-up, top-down, and inside-out–and to make us mad, too. The term is: “trauma bonded“.
The purpose in bringing up that is to suggest a far better alternative (the “B” answer) not only for this time but for all time–and after.
First, though, to address choice “A”.
Trauma bonding is a psychological strategy most often attributed to domestic abusers, religious cult leaders, and/or others who want control over their targets/victims. A famous example of trauma bonding outside of family or social groups is Stockholm Syndrome.
Trauma bonding usually occurs in a repeating cycle and continues until time, effort, and wisdom overcome and conquer it. And–quick good news insert–it is always, if at length, overcome and conquered whether the t-bonding involves the mind, heart, spirit, or body, or all four, else not too long after Eden went to seed the very first people would all have been traumatized into an early grave.
Trauma bonding is obviously very potent–one of the most potent of all manipulative operations with which to enslave people, literally and/or psychologically.
To expand the definition:
This cycle can be summarized in three stages: infatuation, devaluation, and rapid discarding of the partner. The loop becomes toxic as the partner begins to cravie the infatuation that marked the beginning of the relationship, propelling them to quickly forgive and do anything to get the partnership back to a place of good feelings. (source, emphasis added)
The driver of trauma bonding is fear on some level and a kind of desperate hope in whatever moments of respite or “return to normal” could occur–or that might be doled out by the perpetrators to dupe their prey for the “payoff”, i.e., the victims will stay around and the perpetrators will maintain control.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
Psyop intensified and complete.
Regarding ideologial and political trauma bonding in particular, which is arguably the most intense kind of t-bonding we are experiencing today, add the use of propaganda and the suppression–or cancellation–of all opposing views in order to keep the citizens paying attention and paying homage.
All trauma bonding situations include religious undertones.
For, if you think about it, our quest for higher meanings, powers, and lasting solutions to our traumas is as certain in the psyche of man as is the hope of eternal life.
Indeed, as soon as reason gels–in some as young as five or six–we look up and wonder, “What else is out there?”
And every culture and creed offers its own Revered One(s), whether of myth, mystcism, or (an actual) man, who, unless it is THE Man (see “Jesus Bonded,” below, which is salvation of a different kind entirely) is believed to hold insider information and/or “get out of jail free cards” for those who do everything they say–or there will be consequences to pay.
“Existential consequences,” even (a popular meme today whether actually true or just memed for power-by-suggestion).
Damning consequences, even, not only in the hereafter but also in the strife-torn here.
That is why intermittent reinforcement, respite, comfort, is so effective in all variations on the t-bonding theme.
Otherwise victims would identify the abuse much sooner and leave the situation, relationship, belief system, or ideology.
This abuse-bonding element is also known as “throwing out bread crumbs” once in awhile, that is to say, crumbs of some desired item such as affection, enlightenment, special privileges, security, acceptance, power, money, fame, or cessation of the fear and tension for at least a bit will keep victims “on the right path” which, of course, means they will more easily comply because if the trauma part, whether mental, psychological, social, political, spiritual, and/or physical does not let up, the victims will not remain loyal or useful to the abusers for very long.
Now to address choice “B”.
The reason that being “Jesus bonded” is the far better choice for an extraordinarily frustrating, somewhat frightening, and frequently fouled-up time period such as ours is that the contrast couldn’t be greater.
(Here’s where more religious undertones of trauma bonding come into play.)
First and foremost on why to choose B*, the following:
Whereas when it comes to world’s “salvation systems” (in this context meaning “saviors” under the influence of evil) the mandate is: “take our word as gospel truth or face the trauma,” but when it comes to God’s system, we yield to faith in Christ because He took the trauma for us.
As put in the lyrics of an old hymn: “He paid the debt He did not owe; I owed a debt I could not pay.”
As put in the Gospel of John: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (3:16).
Of course “sins” against wordly systems are defined very differently than biblical and legal wrong-doings. They may not be bad behavior at all.
For current examples, the sins against the socio-political belief system named “identity politics” include the immutable characteristic of skin color (you must agree that white is bad, all others good), and concerning gender-based “sin,” the bad behavior is to insist on irrefutable science instead of “fluid” feelings. Truth accepted from the get-go of civilization is now supposed to be deception and deception is now deemed truth, you might also say.
A different kind of trauma by way of persecution for biblical believers may still exist after salvation in Christ (something Jesus warned us about), however. This is because the world’s belief systems don’t brook competition of any kind–social, political, and/or spiritual.
They want only compliance.
And we follow another Commander in Chief.
But there’s even more good news when we bond with Jesus.
- When the persecution against us begins (and/or continues), Jesus does not leave nor forsake us, something known “in the world” as “throw us under the bus,” thus, His respite is not temporary and manipulative but eternal and true.
- The “bread crumbs” of hope, insight, wisdom, direction, comfort, healing, deliverance, and eternal salvation are as constant as Jesus, Himself, Who remains “the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
- After Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins was complete, “finished,” as He put it in His last breaths, and He returned to the “throne room,” He sent Another (the Holy Spirit) to dwell within believers to continually lead, direct, and guide those who choose to “see and hear” Him which is to say, in another way, we are never left alone to figure out and negotiate life where (real) sin, our own or others’, ultimately steals, kills, and destroys.
- The Jesus bond is rooted not in hate, envy, and greed as are so many bonds in the world, but in love, as expressed thus: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13) which He did by paying the price of the trauma we inflict on one another.
- And even in the 2021 hot mess that by all signs and prophecies portends an even hotter mess (“global warming” of biblical proportions?), we might only be on the precipice, friends, if those prophecy scholars are right.
So here’s more encouragement as we move forward today:
(Those) who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 30:31)
As for how to deal with the trauma and the trauma-bonders that plague the world? This advice and encouragement from St. Paul who suffered plenty for his faith in Jesus Christ:
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:12-13)
Remembering that will also help us climb up out of the base of the brain, so to speak, just trying to survive, where so much attention must be given to fighting, fleeing, freezing, or (new to the definition) “fawning” (read: attempting to please others–even pay homage?), in reaction to trauma or implied trauma, all of which is both exhausting and time consuming.
And it frees us up to remain “occupying until He comes” that others, too, can bond with Him for eternity.
*I highly recommend this brief, to-the-point, explanation of salvation in this day of hurry, hurry, hurry. Salvation ABC’s (jdfarag.org)
For a more extended discussion of salvation, here’s another reference of myriad found online and in print.
For related encouragement here is some anecdotal evidence of God’s provision in ordinary and extraordinary times–and ways–based on the “all-time best seller” Psalm for help in hard times: FREE DEVOTIONAL ON PSALM 91 VERSES | pnissila