How to Deal with Betrayal– 6 Guidelines to Healing and Peace

Betrayal is an interpersonal trauma which shatters assumptions about how we view life and the people close to us. ~ Eileen R. Borris

There have been only two times in my life when I truly felt betrayed, when the people and situations I trusted for one outcome turned into something completely unexpected, totally negative and painful. Both times were closely associated with a death. I think that deep loss triggers some kind of preservation reaction – where the people closest to us suddenly become selfish and hurtful, defending their personal pain or plan to the exclusion of everyone else.

Most of the time, it’s a question of perception and lack of understanding. They simply “feel what they feel” and think how they think – and cannot fathom another opinion or outcome. As one person said to me, “That is just how it is.” The problem was, I didn’t think that was how it should be!

Betrayal severs the bonds of relationship. It crushes our perceptions of friendship and loyalty, leaving our emotions raw and bleeding. The very people I thought would be supportive turned the situation upside down to their advantage … and my hurt.

As a Christian, I wondered how to deal with the people who wounded me so deeply. Does God really have a plan that includes our pain? Does He expect us to meekly turn the other cheek? What about me and my feelings? As I pondered various Bible verses and searched for answers, I came up with these six guidelines that helped me find peace despite the pain.

Hit the brake! … Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. (Ps. 37:8) Stop! Take a deep breath. You know you don’t want to react wrongly. That storm of emotion is clouding your vision and you probably can’t see clearly yet to move forward. Proverbs 20:3 says “it is an honor for a man to cease from strife”. More wrong words or actions from you will not improve that situation. Take some time to get God-centered. Don’t react from your place of pain. Consider carefully before you move forward.

Ignore the potholes. … Take no account of a suffered wrong. (I Cor. 13:7) When you’re driving down the interstate, do you stop when your car hits a pothole with a bone-jarring thump? No – you keep on going. If you stop, you’ll get run over! When something life-shattering happens, when words are said or events take place that seem to stop you in your tracks, remind yourself (probably often!) that the other person(s) was not ‘out to get you’. They were simply responding to their own internal, admittedly subjective opinions. Admit that you are doing the same thing. Life is subjective – for all of us. Don’t allow yourself to become a victim.

Don’t park on the freeway. If ye have aught against any, forgive … (Mark 11:25). Betrayal, anger, fear and loss can become roadblocks of depression or despondency if you let them. Do not get stuck in the mire of blame or thoughts of retribution. Forgiveness is an act of will. It may take your emotions some time to catch up with your decision to forgive. That doesn’t mean you have to be ‘best buds’ again. You need not condone wrong behavior or reconcile the relationship. Sometimes the best option is to love from afar. Forgiving someone is more about your peace of mind than anything they do or don’t do. Consider Jesus’ words, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Forgive and move on.

Watch your baggage! ~ Keep thy heart with all diligence … Prov. 4:23 If you’ve ever traveled by plane, you know that the airport broadcasts a message repeatedly to keep your bags with you at all times. They don’t want someone else to gain access to your stuff. It’s the same with your thoughts and emotions. Someone else’s words do not define your worth. Nothing said to you or about you changes who you are. Only your own thoughts and words have the power to do that. You know the truth about you, your situation, and your motivation. Don’t abdicate your personal power and worth to someone else’s opinion. Guard your heart.

Turn on your GPS. If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone … Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord. (Rom. 12:19) Have you ever wondered if your GPS really knows where you want to go? I often think, “Well, I know a better way to go,” but my way usually isn’t! God has a GPS, a roadmap for your well-being and success. It includes peace, joy and prosperity. But you won’t see His plan if you won’t trust His instructions. The Bible instructs us to let peace be your umpire, and that God’s mercy is ‘new every morning’. The 23rd Psalm promises that goodness and mercy follow you always so that you will not want or lack anything. The key to that kind of life is doing things His way – letting love, forgiveness and mercy guide your path.

Enjoy the journey. … Trust … in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; (I Tim. 6:17) Move forward. You cannot change what happened or the words that were already said. You can, however, take charge of yourself. Every experience contributes to the person you become. How does the situation impact your life or lifestyle? What can you learn? How do you want to move forward? Look at the bigger picture. Did this event or confrontation change your life, or just your feelings? There is much still to see and enjoy along life’s highway. God still has a good plan!

As I searched for my own peace of mind in the midst of turmoil and distress, these six Biblical principles, six guidelines if you will, continually came to mind. The one I struggled with the most was No. 2 – take no account of a suffered wrong. “I suffered, Lord. Am I just supposed to ignore that?” Actually – yes.

God didn’t say ‘perceived wrong’ – as in “maybe we just misunderstood each other” or “If we talk this out, we can come to terms”. No, I suffered. I cried. I hid. I didn’t want to ever talk to that person again! Yet, somewhere under the fog of negative emotion, I knew I had to get on the spiritual side of the mess.

It took hours and days (weeks) to release the self-righteousness and anger. “Takes NO account …” How do you do that? Every time, EVERY time, I thought about the situation, I had to remind myself, “No, I’m not going there. God will work this out for my good.” It takes a lot of white paint to change the color in a bucket of black. It takes a LOT of WORD to change our human (carnal) thinking and feelings.

With the knowledge that no weapon formed against you can prosper (Is. 54:17) and God giveth us the victory (I Cor. 15:57), you can have the assurance that no matter what someone else does or doesn’t do, God will restore your losses (Joel 2:25) and redeem your life from destruction (Ps. 103:4).

I will not pretend, even for a minute, that this is easy. I will, however, tell you that it’s worth it. God’s plan, His great road trip for each of us called Life, is designed to be lived His way. Release all of your negative emotions and replace them with an understanding of and faith in His promises. Implement these six guidelines and you will find the emotional healing and peace you seek.



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