It happens, even among brothers and sisters in Christ. It happened to Jesus, and it happens to us. Friends sometimes turn on us, and the knife of betrayal slices us deeply. And, the longer the friendship has been in place, the more the pain hurts. Consider these steps when betrayal hits home for you:
- Grieve the reality of sin in general. No matter what betrayals we face, sin always plays a role. We’re fallen, arrogant, disobedient people whose actions show that we’re not yet as Christlike as we need to be. When you weep over the grief that sin generally brings, it’s easier to forgive someone who hurts you.
- Don’t make assumptions about causes—have a face-to-face conversation with your perceived betrayer. Sadly, the cause is at times only a misunderstanding completely distorted and then detonated. Before the scars set up, talk. If the talk must include confrontation, do confront—but in a God-honoring way.
- Give yourself permission to grieve the loss of a friend. Betrayal hurts. Deeply. So deeply that it’s often hard to trust anyone again. Don’t whitewash that pain, as if Christians who trust God should never feel that way. Cry out to God. Weep. It’s all okay.
- Pray for the other person. It’s hard to know why people do some of the things they do. Regardless of their motives, though, something just happens within us when we genuinely pray for those who betray us. Sometimes God melts our heart before he melts the heart of our betrayer.
- Don’t betray in turn. It’s easy to do, actually. We foolishly convince ourselves that we’ll prove our “rightness” by making sure others know how terrible our betrayer is. Don’t let the devil drag you into that trap; if you allow him to do so, you’re revealing more about yourself than you might want to admit.
- Consider all the other brothers and sisters in Christ who’ve not betrayed you. It’s my experience that faithful friends outnumber the unfaithful ones – usually by large numbers. Don’t let pain from one former friend cause you to miss the blessings of others around you. You might want to start this process by focusing first on God who never betrays His children.
- Choose not to let bitterness consume you. Bitterness is like hot embers on the floor – the potential for a conflagration is always there if those embers are fanned. In the power of God, douse the embers before they cause long-term damage in your own heart.
- Be open to reconciliation. Forgiving a betrayer and then renewing a relationship don’t mean that everything must return to the way it was. Trust takes time, and sometimes we never fully get back there. We can, though, still offer God’s love even to our perceived enemies.
- Trust God. He’s bigger than any pain you’re facing. And, He can mold your own heart for His glory and your good even through the anguish of betrayal.
What steps have helped you deal with this pain?