This is the sixth part of a six-part series that investigates eight major ways that ungodly beliefs are formed in our lives. Part six shows how ungodly beliefs are formed through personal and traumatic experiences.
Personal and Traumatic Experiences
Many times our ungodly beliefs arise from the things we experience in life. A bad thing happens to us and we come to the wrong conclusion because of it and form an ungodly belief. Along with the unbelief come expectations that align with the ungodly belief. We then begin to act or react out of the expectations and then have a similar experience, which reaffirms the belief, the expectation and the behavior.
Below is a visual example of what is called the Belief-Expectation Cycle. I am not sure who created it, but the first time I heard of it was from Chester and Betsy Kylstra, so I will give them credit for it.
The cycle itself is neither positive or negative. It can be used to track good or bad experiences right or wrong beliefs, good or bad expectations, and healthy or harmful behavior. For our purposes, we will look to see how this cycle describes how ungodly beliefs are formed and reinforced in a person’s life.
Let’s look at simplified version of the cycle for the sake of illustration. In this situation we are only going to look at how one ungodly belief is formed. Real-life situations are much more complex and one experience can lead to multiple ungodly beliefs. Let’s see how Will formed the ungodly belief “everyone who loves me will leave me” and how that affected his expectations and behaviors.
Will loved him mom and dad more than anything. He was so proud of both of them. He always wanted to hang around them, so much so that he would not go over to a friend’s home to play. He always had them come to his house.
Experience Number One at Age Seven
- Experience - The first major event to impact Will’s life was his mother abandoning the family. She left one day without saying a word or leaving a note. She was gone.
- Belief - I love my mom so much and she left me.
- Expectation - If I love my mom so much and she left me, maybe my dad will leave me too.
- Behavior - Will becomes fearful and clingy every time his father leaves him. He always wonders if he will come back.
Experience Number Two at Age Nine
- Experience - Will’s dad starts drinking after his mother leaves. It gradually gets worse and worse. Will is left alone at home, sometimes for days, as his father goes on a drinking spree. He is taken out of his father’s house to live with his widowed grandma. His dad hardly notices he is gone.
- Belief - I love my dad and now he is gone. Everyone I love leaves me.
- Expectations - Both my mom and dad left me, If I don’t love grandma, she won’t leave me.
- Behavior - Will decides to be aloof from his Grandma. If he doesn’t love her, there is no reason for her to leave. As hard as he tries, he loves his grandma. He can’t help it. She is so wonderful.
Experience Number Three at Age Twelve
- Experience - Everything goes well at grandma’s house. About two-and-a-half years after moving into grandma’s house, she has an unexpected stroke and dies. Will is left alone again. His Uncle Tom takes him in.
- Belief - It is true. Every single person I love leaves me. What is wrong with me. Why do they have to go away and leave me? I will not love another adult as long as I live.
- Expectation - Uncle Tom will leave me like everyone else. Maybe if I only love people my own age, this will not happen again.
- Behavior - Will refuses to bond with Uncle Tom and his family. He becomes involved in every sport and club he can at school so that he does not have to interact with the family.
Experience Number Four at Age FIfteen
- Experience - Will becomes best friends with Jimmy, a kid from school. They are involved in the same sports and clubs.They spend every moment together they possibly can. It is almost like they were identical twins in thought and deed. Will and Jimmy get in a big fight. Jimmy is so angry that he screams at Will, “I am no longer your friend. I will never speak to you again.” And he doesn’t
- Belief - Even Jimmy left me. I will never love another person as long as I live. Every single person I ever love leaves me.
- Expectations - If I ever truly love someone they will leave me. I must guard my heart and never let another person into my heart no matter what
- Behavior - Will becomes somewhat of a loner. He dates girls and goes to parties, but he never opens up and never spends time with people. He just can’t get close to anyone, because he knows when he does they will leave. He barely enters his Uncle’s house except to eat and to sleep.Will moves out of his uncle’s house the day after his eighteenth birthday.
Experience Five at Age Twenty-one
- Experience - Will certainly doesn’t know how it happened, but he is in love with Anna. He is crazy about her. He even thinks about marrying her, but that’s crazy.
- Belief - If I love and marry Anna, she will leave me.
- Expectation - Anna will leave me like every other person I loved.
- Behavior - Will was such a kind and considerate man before the wedding. He did everything for Anna. Once Will married Anna, everything changed. He figured that the only way to ensure that Anna would not leave him was to be overbearing and smothering. He had to know where she was every second of every day. He warned her over and over, if she left him he would search her out until he found her and then she would be sorry.
Experience Six at Age Twenty-two
- Experience - A week before his first anniversary Will saw an envelope on the kitchen table. It was from Anna. She said she was leaving him and would never come back. Will tracked her down and stalked Anna on a daily basis. She got a restraining order against him. He broke it multiple times and was put in jail multiple times.
- Belief - Sitting in jail Will came to the conclusion that he was doomed. He would never be able to love anyone again because everyone he loved left him.
- Expectation - I am going to live a lonely, loveless life. No one I love will ever stay with me.
- Behavior - Will goes into his home and becomes a recluse. He doesn’t want to have any contact with people except through his computer screen. He works online, banks online, shops online, and even orders his groceries online. He rarely leaves his house. It is the only safe place for him.
We can see a logical progression of thought in Will’s thinking as he experiences six traumatic events in his life. Let’s look at how Will formed this belief over time:
- Will loves his mom and she leaves. He becomes fearful that his dad might leave.
- Will’s dad leaves so he knows that those who love him will leave, so he has to live with his grandma.
- Will tries unsuccessfully not to love her, but can’t help himself. She dies and leaves him.
- Will now refuses to build a relationship with his Uncle’s family because he know that they will leave him. He thinks that maybe it’s just adults that leave and makes friends with Jimmy. Maybe He will stay.
- When Jimmy leaves Will knows that it is true about everyone. It does not matter who it is adults or people his own age, everyone he loves will leave him. He must protect his heart and never love again.
- He refuses to have any relationships outside of casual parties or events, until he meets Anna. He is madly in love and determines that the best way to keep Anna is to control her and know where she is at all times. He will never let her leave him.
- Anna does leave and calls the police when he tracks her down. He tries to intimidate her and ends up in jail for all his attempts of control.
- He finally decides it is not worth it. He is doomed. Everyone who loves him will leave him. So he tries another tactic, becoming a recluse.
Will’s life was changed forever due to his ungodly beliefs. Next week we will look at how ungodly beliefs manifest themselves in our thoughts toward ourselves and others.
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