“One should rather die than be betrayed. There is no deceit in death. It delivers precisely what it has promised. Betrayal, though … betrayal is the willful slaughter of hope.” – Steve Deitz
Betrayal hurts. No two ways about it. If you are living and breathing in relationships with other human beings chances are high you’ve experienced betrayal of trust.
When considering the word betrayal other words may cross the mind… Back stab. Double Cross. SELL OUT.
A spouse turning their attention, their affection or their physical desires to another. Still, a partner misrepresenting the facts of an experience for their own gain. A friend who betrays a confidence or is heard gossiping behind your back. A person in a position of authority abusing those they are entrusted to lead and direct. A leader who passively delegates through lack of initiative and then openly slaughters the one who took up the slack. Worse the person you love and trust to care for you turns their strength against you and BAM! The first blow tears at your soul and your heart – shattering your hopes one painful blow after another.
I’ve been one who has betrayed and one who has been betrayed. Betrayal is a subtle thing, it sucks you in slow and by the time the deed is done you are laying on the sidewalk, side-swiped by a fast moving vehicle that has not taken the time to even notice they left you bleeding on the ground.
Never in my life have I experienced a betrayal that stole my hope and sent me in an emotional spiral than when I felt the sting of deceit and betrayal in my relationships with authority and the people in the church.
YEP. I’m going there.
The first time it happened, it broke my heart. A pastor I served under broke his word to me and I reeled and emoted wildly from the effect. Still, God nursed me back while the other leaders in the church stood idly by and watched the entire mess unfold. I had to grow up and learn quickly how to navigate the shifting waters of live beyond the law, but don’t enforce it. like a physical wound newly healed, that tender place that had been sliced open in my heart was not completely well.
The second time it happened it was a chance encounter that revealed someone I trusted in leadership was gossiping behind my back. And while it stung, I pretended like I didn’t know. But the cut went deeper and because I hid it, never dealt with it – it got infected. I shut out people rather than trusting them. I learned to hide my feelings rather than expose them.
Then a betrayal in my marriage wrecked my heart and my expectations. I wasn’t sure how I would survive it. My heart had been blown wide open. I met with a pastor and received ministry for my wounded heart. And day by day, week by week and then as months and years passed my heart grew stronger as it healed.
A few years later I found myself on staff in a healthy, burgeoning church when a sucker punch sort of came out of left field. It knocked me silly for a minute, and then it’s like God was my corner coach in the boxing ring and I got back up. He whispered in my ear and I responded conservatively, acknowledging the information being thrown at me and agreeing to consider it as valid. As I spoke, revelation dawned. I spoke it out and the person addressing me considered what I said in return. We found a workable peace and I kept my job until I decided to leave the position the following year.
Each time I had experienced betrayal my heart grew stronger, my mind more apt to respond from a healthy place than react in an emotional upheaval. So when betrayal reared its ugly head toward me more recently, I felt like the incident while it stung sort of bounced off of me. I kept my head and responded to what became known.
I addressed the conflict it created for me even though it became clear the conflict with the other person might not become resolved or even be acknowledged properly… I chose not to indulge the knowledge of Good and Evil. I chose rather to recognize where I had given place to and enabled the betrayal to take place. I expressed my concerns and asked for reconciliation and resolution. And, I continue to be fine even though it may never be adequately addressed.
“Ugly words and uglier plans they have for me— You’ve heard it all, Eternal One. Under their breath, my adversaries whispering about me, devising nasty schemes all the time.” ~ Lamentations 3:61-62 (Voice)
God hears the words spoken against me. God knows my heart. He knows my plans, my passions and He knows me. God knows the person who betrays me. He knows their heart. He knows their plans, passions and He knows why – the wounding, lie or event – that produces the tendency toward betrayal. He understands, and today I think I do as well. I am not sure I am in the place of trusting what is happening or those who are involved in the actions of the betrayal again. But, I’m not sidelined, I’m not even wounded by it these days. I recognize it for what it is – dysfunction rooted in lack that is expressed in fear and control.
Today on Facebook I wrote that Responsibility and Accountability are high values for me in relationship. I expect to be accountable to my words and actions while I expect others to be responsible and accountable for their words and actions. I am done playing games to accommodate the dysfunctional decisions of other people.
I am done playing the games associated, but I’m not done loving the people involved.
What exactly does that mean? A number of years ago as I walked through my painful realities in the midst of hurtful betrayal I learned to put my experiences against the backdrop of Jesus’ experiences with betrayal, death and false accusation. I look at his broken and bleeding body on the cross and realize to some extent the betrayal and depravity of my own soul against God through original sin and willful choice put Jesus on the cross. And in all of this… Christ still, moved by love, willingly chose the cross. Willingly chose to die for me, a sinner who had betrayed Him.
You see the day Jesus was betrayed, after Passover observance when Judas led his accusers to expose and betray Him. I could’ve easily been Judas who sold Him for thirty pieces of silver because He was not measuring up to Judas’ expectations of a deliverer. I could have been Judas. And yet, Jesus didn’t shun Judas though He knew He would betray Him. Jesus loved Judas, received Him and allowed Him to kiss His cheek and surrendered to those that had come for Him without accusation.
Jesus did not answer the charges against. He did not respond to or acknowledge the mocking and the horrible abuses heaped upon Him. Jesus, like a lamb before the shearers is silent, went to the cross thought He committed no crime and suffered my death. So if Jesus still loved Judas, did not shun him and still went to the cross – even for Judas, though Judas lacked faith to see the Messiah. Then I, too, not only can but must love my betrayers. I must love them. Continue to sacrifice my own sense of entitlement toward their benefit. Allow myself to be humbled by Christ’s sacrifice in such a way that I can not hold their betrayal of me against them. FORGIVEN.
Moving On Today…
Abuse, betrayal and the way people mock, gossip and malign us behind our back hurts. There is no doubt. But the freedom of Christ is available in the moment of betrayal and pain’s onset or it can be received after a season of pain – we get to choose the timing of our deliverance. By an act of our WILL.
In forgiveness we often say, “I forgive you.” Much the way we say, “I am sorry.” With little thought for the emotional consequence that should accompany those words. When I say, “I forgive you.” I am saying I release you from the guilt, or send away the thing you did to God, and I take the consequences of what you did upon myself.
But, Jesus died so we don’t have to experience even the consequences of what another did to us. We don’t have to bear that pain because Jesus bore it on the cross. So when I send away the judgment I’ve made against those who hurt me, I also send away the reality of what they’ve done to cause me pain, and finally I acknowledge to God the pain I have felt over what has been done to me. I release it all to Him and ask Jesus to put it on His cross. RELEASED.
And only then can I look to Jesus, my Redeemer who calls me friend, and ask Him to give me something from His Heart to replace the pain I surrendered to Him. EXCHANGE.
The Life Unoffended
Todd White taught a powerful message at Gateway Church in November 2011. He taught for near on two and a half hours but I got caught up in the first paragraph. “I choose to live unoffended.”
My head swam a bit, my heart slowed to a snail’s pace as the weight of that sentence settled upon me. CAN YOU LIVE UNOFFENDED?
Then question after question danced through my mind, leapt from my tongue and unlocked my heart. Over the weeks and months that followed I would be tested, tried and I would grow in the life unoffended. It doesn’t mean that emotionally I do not hurt – it means that I don’t hold onto it. I forgive before it has the chance to affect my heart.
Jesus. He is worth the price of admission folks. He is worth everything. He is worth surrender. He is worth the sacrifice it take to love those who hurt you the most. He is worth it all. This is the life in His Perfect Love.