There are many popular mantras I hear people repeat in the betrayal trauma recovery world that just make me cringe. These nuggets of “wisdom” often sound wonderful, but they just aren’t centered around Biblical principles and as a result, allowing them to shape our thinking will actually stop progress if what we seek is true healing.
But here at Broken Vows Restored Hearts, we are committed to doing things Biblically. We center everything we believe around what the Bible says. We’re not afraid to call out the lies of the enemy when we see them hurting people, especially people who claim the name of Christ!
So today let’s look at five of those popular mantras that may have wormed their way into your own thinking. Let’s use Scripture to demonstrate why they’re wrong, and then replace the lie with our own mantra based on truth from the Word of God.
Popular Mantras #1 – Follow Your Heart (or Trust Your Gut)
We all know how confusing it is to navigating betrayal trauma recovery! How are we supposed to know when our unfaithful spouse is actually telling the truth? How are we supposed to know when he is really being faithful? When do we decide that the relationship is worth saving and when do we instead realize nothing is going to change and we need to leave? What boundaries do we need to set?
There is a mountain of terrible decisions we have to make, and it is SO difficult to know where to start and how to move through it all. As we try to figure it out, one of the popular mantras people will turn to is, “follow your heart.” Or its sister mantra, “trust your gut.”
I can’t tell you how many people in the betrayal trauma recovery space repeated this to me as I was beginning my journey to healing. In fact, I’ve even said it to people I’ve walked alongside of. But friends, it is terrible advice! I know that now.
The Bible tells us in Jeremiah 17:9 that the human heart is deceitful and wicked. In Matthew 15:19 it gives us a whole laundry list of terrible things that come from the heart. And then there’s this piece of wisdom from Proverbs 28:26 (I included several translations to give us the full picture of what it is saying):
(NLT) – Those who trust their own insight are foolish, but anyone who walks in wisdom is safe.
(NASB) – One who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but one who walks wisely will flee to safety.
(ESV) – Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.
(NIV) – Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.
I doubt there are many of us who want to be foolish! I am sure we are all seeking wisdom as we try to figure out what to do. We all want to find safety as we navigate this difficult road. That’s why it is so important that we run everything people tell us through the filter of Scripture! Because if we follow these popular mantras, we’ll end up making foolish decisions and get ourselves deeper into the mess.
The truth is, our hearts (or our guts, or our intuitions) are completely unreliable. And when we’re honest with ourselves, I think we all know it. In our hearts we have things we want so desperately to be true that it makes us unrealistic and we have fears that are so real they cripple us. We have assumptions we don’t even realize we’ve made, baggage we often forget we’re carrying, and a hundred other things that get in the way of wisdom.
No, our hearts are not the guides we should be listening to. Our guts can not be trusted to lead us to sound judgements. So what should we trust instead? Here’s what the Bible says:
Proverbs 3:1-8 – My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart. If you do this you will live many years, and your life will be satisfying. Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek HIS will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.
Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.
Don’t trust your gut and follow your heart, trust in the Lord with all your heart! Don’t depend on your own understanding, seek His will in all you do. He will show you which path to take!
BIBLICAL MANTRA #1 to replace the flawed popular mantras:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Seek His will in all you do.
Popular Mantras #2 – I Am Enough
If I have to see one more meme or hear one more person declare this lie with pride, I think I’m going to lose it! Like so many popular mantras, the phrase “I am enough” is so unbiblical and simply not true.
To be honest, I’m not even sure what it really means. I am enough for what?
If it means I am enough to make myself worthy or valuable, then I would submit Romans 3:23 into evidence. It says that we all have sinned and we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. If it means I don’t need to try to be more or better, I would offer up 2 Timothy 3:16-17 which tells us that Scripture is useful to teach us and rebuke us and train us in righteousness. Now why would I need these things if I were already enough?
But the way I hear it used most often in affair recovery is to suggest that I am enough to satisfy my husband. Friends, the idea that any of us is enough to satisfy any other person is dangerous and untrue.
Ecclesiastes 1:8 – Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear we are not content.
The truth is that none of us can be satisfied by any person. Not intellectually, not emotionally, not spiritually, and not even physically. When we believe that we should be able to fulfill our spouse, it puts a burden on us that is impossible to fill and has the potential to stop progress in our pursuit of the healing available in Christ alone.
Along the same lines, if we believe another person should be able to fulfill us, not only does it place that same impossible burden on them, it also prevents us from the contentment that comes from seeking our fulfillment from the only source that actually has the ability to satisfy.
Philippians 4:11-13 -… for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
Matthew 6:33 – Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.
The only source of true satisfaction is Jesus Christ, and until we all learn to find our fulfillment in Him, there is nothing that is going to bring contentment. Additionally, until we all learn that we’re not the answer to another person’s fulfillment, because we are indeed NOT enough to satisfy it, we’ll spend our lives carrying a load of responsibility that is not ours to carry. It is a burden far too heavy for any human!
The good news is that when we do learn to find our satisfaction in Christ, there is great joy and fulfillment in living a life that honors His standards. So when our cup has already been filled by God, a loving and God-honoring marriage will bring a whole new level of satisfaction we likely didn’t know was possible. But it won’t be because we are enough, but because God is enough!
BIBLICAL MANTRA #2 to replace the flawed popular mantras:
GOD is enough.
Popular Mantras #3 – I Am Perfect Just the Way I Am
How this popular mantra ever became acceptable among Christians is beyond me. I don’t feel I should even have to prove to you how sharply it flies in the face of Biblical truth, but for the sake of those who are new to Bible study, I will.
Romans 3:10-12 – As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous – not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.”
Mark 7:20-23 – And then He added, “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these things come from within; they are what defile you.
Psalm 51:5 – For I was born a sinner – yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
We were all born sinners! We are horribly flawed, every single one of us. That is why we need to be saved. That is why we need Jesus. If we were perfect just the way we are, why would Jesus have needed to die?
Romans 12:2 – Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
We are indeed not perfect, and Jesus did come and He did die so that we could be saved from our flawed sinfulness. Those of us who turn from our sin in repentance and in faith believe in the grace of God demonstrated through Jesus Christ for our salvation receive a wonderful gift – transformation!
Jesus makes us into a new creation and we are given the promise of perfection.
Philippians 3:8-14 – Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with Him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with Himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised Him from the dead…
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have to achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
We are not perfect now but we are being made perfect in Christ! But that doesn’t really have anything to do with us. It has everything to do with Jesus!
BIBLICAL MANTRA #3 to replace the flawed popular mantras:
In Christ, I am being transformed and will one day be made perfect IN HIM.
Popular Mantras #4 – I Control My Destiny
I hope you are starting to pick up on a theme in these flawed popular mantras. Just like all the others, this one elevates us rather than God. It takes a truth about Him and transfers that truth to us, putting us in a place that belongs to Him.
God has given us freedom when it comes to our will. We do make choices. But if we believe for a minute that this freedom actually puts us in control of our destiny, we have greatly misunderstood the sovereignty of God.
Proverbs 19:21 – You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purposes will prevail.
I could give you many MANY more verses to prove this point, but I really think this one sums it up pretty well. We’re simply not in control of anything. God is in control of everything.
The good news is, God is good. That means His purposes and plans are completely trustworthy. If He has allowed it, He will accomplish good things through it for those who belong to Him. We can count on that and we don’t have to scramble to try and manage situations that are simply beyond our control. We can surrender our destiny to the One who already holds it and in doing so, find peace.
BIBLICAL MANTRA #4 to replace the flawed popular mantras:
God controls my destiny and He is trustworthy.
Popular Mantras #5 – Before Others Can Love Me I Have to Love Myself
Once again, these popular mantras all encourage us to elevate self, and this is an entirely unbiblical concept. According to Ephesians 5:29, we don’t really have to try to love ourselves because by our nature, we just do. It’s a given. That’s why we’re told to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. It is understood that we love ourselves. It’s kind of the problem!
After all, the elevation of self is what is at the root of almost all sin! It’s what caused Adam and Eve to eat the fruit, it’s even what caused Satan and the other angels to fall. Proverbs 16 tells us that pride goes before destruction, and Matthew 23 says that those who exalt themselves will be humbled, but those who humble themselves will be exalted.
Romans 12:3 tells us that we should not think of ourselves as better than we are, and Philippians 2:3 says we should think of others as better than ourselves. It tells us not to look out for our own interests, but to take an interest in others.
The truth is, our value does not actually come from what is good about us, or even what we think about ourselves. All the value we have come from what is good about God and what He thinks about us. So I don’t need to love myself, I need to rest in God’s love for me. More importantly, it just doesn’t matter whether or not other people love me because God’s love trumps everything.
When we learn to find our identity in Christ, we won’t need validation from anyone else. We will be strong and confident and at peace because we will be free from human standards of evaluation and secure in the grace of God which enables us to be exactly what He created us to be.
Galatians 2:20 – My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who lives, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
BIBLICAL MANTRA #4 to replace the flawed popular mantras:
God loves me. Nothing else matters.
The Real Key to Success in Betrayal Trauma Recovery
As we’ve already said, the theme to all these flawed popular mantras is the elevation of self. It is a theme that runs through so much of the betrayal trauma recovery landscape. I also believe it is the very thing that keeps most people from ever actually finding the healing that’s available.
You see, when we fall for these subtle lies that aim to make us place ourselves in a position that belongs to God, we become idolaters. We make an idol out of ourselves. And idolatry is really just adultery against God.
I don’t know about you, but I know what it feels like to be the victim of adultery, and that is not something I EVER want to make God feel. So I will resolve to be fiercely vigilant against the constant barrage of lies that aim their vicious (though somehow appealing) claws at my vulnerable human heart. How? By keeping my eyes on Jesus!
He is the real key to success in betrayal trauma recovery! Every time we are tempted to see ourselves in some noble light, we must be quick to capture those thoughts and make them obedient to Christ. He is the only righteous one. He is the only noble one. He is the only hope any of us have!
Let us turn to Him, my friends, and be healed!