The line on the other end started ringing. She picked up and I cleared my throat, trying to sound okay.
“Hey, um.. My father died last night. I was wondering if you could lend me some cash for the funeral expenses. We will pay you the soonest we can.”
I could not stop the tears from falling and I could hear my voice cutting out as I said those words. I started sobbing and I could not hear what the other person was saying to me. All I could pick up was that was not the right time for me to call her but I pressed on. I was desperate. I could tell that she was burdened and frustrated, then she started shouting at me on the phone. Somehow, I managed to persuade her to meet me that day.
I watched as she got the bundle of money out from her pocket and gave it to me in the rudest way. I swallowed all my pride, took the money, said my thanks, and watched her leave. I walked back to the funeral parlor filled with unbelief. My heart was filled with emotions that I could not explain and I thought to myself “How can someone close to me, someone who I thought I could lean on, treat me this way, at my hardest moment?”
But there was one thing I was so sure, I felt betrayed.
What is betrayal?
Betrayal, by definition, is the breaking of an agreement or doing something to hurt a relationship. Miriam Webster’s dictionary defines it as “to fail or desert especially in times of need”.
Betrayal begins with trust that’s why it never comes from your enemies. It comes from the people closest to you and that is the saddest part of it. When your enemies hurt you, you would not care and you would not mind their opinion or their actions. You will not lose your relationship with them and nothing was broken since there was no love or relationship in the first place.
It’s a whole different story when the person who you thought would never hurt you, would actually stab you at the back. We let our guards down to those people we trust. We share our fears, dreams, and hopes. We become vulnerable to them so when they hurt us, it cuts deep.
Not all betrayals are intentional, sometimes people betray us because of their selfish desires and carelessness. In most cases, the root cause of betrayal is offense. When that offense stays in a person’s heart, it grows into anger, then eventually leads to betrayal.
The psalmist clearly describes the feeling of being betrayed in Psalm 55:12 – 14
It is not an enemy who taunts me—
I could bear that.
It is not my foes who so arrogantly insult me—
I could have hidden from them.
Instead, it is you—my equal,
my companion and close friend.
What good fellowship we once enjoyed
as we walked together to the house of God.
Betrayal is one of the most devastating experiences in a person’s lifetime. The pain of being betrayed is unbearable and heightened by the loss of a relationship that was once valued and cherished. It makes us question our worth and judgement that sometimes leads to depression. It is an insult to any relationship, that someone would actually choose to break the trust for his/her own personal gain
Our usual reaction to betrayal are anger, frustration, hatred, and for some taking revenge. We lash out to the person responsible in anger, unfriend that person both on FB and real life, and if ever our brains have a “Delete” option we have long deleted all the memories related to that person.
For some, they try to hide their emotions and choose to forget about everything that happened. It’s like putting your emotions in a box where you can tightly seal it and you would never want to open that box again.
Sadly, these ways can only give you temporary peace and the emotions you’ve been trying to avoid will hunt and hurt you over and over again.
So what should we do then in order to find healing from betrayal?
1. Acknowledge your hurt and cry out to God
Let’s take a look at David’s reaction after he was betrayed in Psalm 55: 16-19
As for me, I call to God,
and the Lord saves me.
Evening, morning and noon
I cry out in distress,
and he hears my voice.
He rescues me unharmed
from the battle waged against me,
even though many oppose me.
God, who is enthroned from of old,
who does not change—
he will hear them and humble them,
because they have no fear of God.
Just like David, you also need to acknowledge your pain. You need to admit that you have been hurt and offended before God. Denying it will only make your emotions worse.
It is by acknowledging your hurts that you also acknowledge that you need help. It is when you know that you have been thrown into a pit and you can’t save yourself that you can cry out to God to save you. You can never attain healing unless you yourself know that you have been deeply wounded.
Jesus knows how you feel. He was also betrayed, twice.
He was sold for thirty pieces of silver by Judas and denied by Peter three times. These were the people from His inner circle whom He spent his time with, and whose feet He washed.
He knows the pain and devastation you are feeling for He had a first hand experience of being betrayed. He can understand if you lay all of your frustrations, anger, confusion, disbelief, and He will not judge you for that.
It is also when you cry out to God that you give Him the chance to comfort and hide you from the pain you are experiencing. Sometimes, you have to let Him in so you can experience His healing and love.
2. Assess if it is the right time to confront the person
This is very important and something that we always have to remember when we are being betrayed by someone.
We need to check our hearts first before confronting the other person. We need to know if we can react to the confrontation with love, for a confrontation done without love can only make the matter worse.
Confrontation done with a critical spirit and malice can only leave ugly scars to you and to the other person as well. It should come from a place of love and understanding and if your heart is not in the right place, you will only end up attacking the other person.
3. Forgive the person
No matter how big or how small the betrayal is, we need to forgive. It is not an option for us but a must. It is in forgiveness that we can react appropriately to the issue.
But you must remember that forgiveness is not just for the other person, it is also for you. Forgiveness frees you from the anger you have been holding against your betrayer. Resentment is a chain that binds you to the other person, but forgiveness breaks the chain, so that you can release that person along with your anger.
Revenge is big no no. Nothing good will ever come out from it. It can only make your anger worse and it will destroy you, not the betrayer. As what was written in Romans 12:19
Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say,
“I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord.
Forgiveness is a sign of spiritual strength and maturity. It is when you choose to overlook the offense that was thrown at you that you grow. Christianity is being more like Jesus and being one with Him. He is our model in everything that we do, and that includes forgiveness.
This is easier said than done but we must remember that it is when we forgive that we are forgiven too.
4. Ask God for the next steps you should do
Every betrayal we experience is of different intensity so it has a different effect on us. There are those betrayals that can be forgiven easily and there are also those that are complex, and the wounds acquired from it are deeper and more painful.
You have three options on how to deal with your betrayer. You could restore the relationship that was lost, build healthy boundaries for future interactions, or sometimes you just have to let it go. Forgiveness frees you from the negative emotions you hold against your betrayer but that doesn’t mean you have to be a doormat. You need to ask God’s guidance and wisdom on this one for He knows what is best for you and for the other person.
But if your betrayer is within your family, then you have to find ways to restore the relationship.
Forgiveness is a personal experience. Your resolution to every betrayal is different and it is only by God’s guidance and wisdom that you will know what is the best thing to do.
I never saw that person’s face during my father’s funeral nor did I receive a sensible explanation from her. That betrayal hurt me for months and I cried rivers of tears before I was able to release that person. I decided to let that relationship go and put it all behind me, and it is only by God’s grace that I was able to forgive the person. Yes, it was one awful experience but if I am going to look back, I now consider it as a blessing. God used that incident to restore the relationship I have with Him.
We all have our own Judas experience at some points in our lives and that experience left wounds and scars in our hearts. We may not know why God allowed that to happen but what we know is that we can learn a lot from it. It is through these trials and testings that our faith is being refined and God can show His grace in our lives.
We are already champions because Jesus has already won the victory, and that includes victory over betrayal. It may deeply hurt us but we must be strong, for we have a God who will see us through that painful experience and He will never leave us.