Betrayal is a strong word because it evokes strong feelings. Feelings of pain, anger, shock, isolation, disloyalty and even revenge. Nearly everyone, at some time in their life has experienced betrayal on some level. It can start as early as childhood and if experienced firsthand enough, can make one leery and distrustful. It might happen in the home, school, the workplace, at church or among close friends.
When we are betrayed, deceived, double-crossed, backstabbed, cheated on or thrown under the bus, it can be devastating . We can feel emotionally blind-sided and shocked because the worst betrayal is by people you are close to. People that you love and trust. As you recall the person or experience, even years later, it awakens those dark, bitter memories that you try so hard to bury.
We have all wondered how could they have done that to us? They had always (or should have) made you feel safe. Or at least that you could trust them. Did you really mean that little to them? Are they monsters or just plain evil? Some people may be evil and do evil things. But in many instances, people simply make dumb mistakes, use poor judgement or act selfishly, and that includes our ourselves. If you think about everyone being betrayed or deeply hurt at some time, then we might conclude that we have at times, been the perpetrators.
I used to think that forgiveness was absolving the guilty of all wrongdoing, that forgiving was “giving in” and excusing their behavior. I don’t think that anymore. It doesn’t mean tolerating someone’s bad behavior over and over. I think you can call someone out on their behavior, and even ask for restitution if needed, prevent it from happening again, and then, let it go. Let go of the hatred, bitterness or sadness. When you gain your voice and have the strength to do that, it is more liberating to address it and then release it. You become the more mature, and capable person and the actions don’t have to hang over your head, or theirs, endlessly. I know of two separate people who both left abusive relationships. They had to wade through devastation, anger, tears and insecurities, as they made themselves safe. Amazingly, both of these people found gradual healing and light at the end of their tunnel, as they both forgave and released all of the negative feelings. Because they were able to do this, they were able to focus on their new lives, instead of the past and their children were able to also.
We too may have betrayed, deceived and lied to someone in our lives. We’ve caused heartache, confusion and worry. If you believe in a Savior, then you know the reason He came to earth, the reason He suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane and hung on a cross was to pay the price for every person who was imperfect. That means everyone.
When someone is offended, it’s often the case that they spend many nights mulling it over in their mind, or obsessing about it and losing sleep over it until the offense snowballs into a mountain. Meanwhile, the offender is not losing sleep over the matter, and they probably haven’t given it a second thought.
Letting go of other’s hurtful actions, is moving forward and living your life. It is about loving yourself and not letting the misdeeds of others control you. It is about trusting Jesus and knowing that He already paid the price and the past doesn’t have to resurface over and over again. It’s true, betrayal is a strong word, but forgiveness is stronger.
Fred (Mr.) Rogers said, “Forgiveness is a strange thing. It can sometimes be easier to forgive our enemies than our friends. It can be hardest of all to forgive people we love. Like all of life’s important coping skills, the ability to forgive and the capacity to let go of resentments most likely take root very early in our lives.”