Yep, you know the one.
It’s the man with the name that once was sweet on your tongue but now burns your lips.
Or maybe it’s the woman who sure acted like she was your best friend until it became clear as a freshly washed window she wasn’t. Could be your betrayer wasn’t a person at all, but an employer who took your best years and then spat you out without warning.
Few things on this side of eternity are as hard to stomach as betrayal. Only someone we’ve loved deeply has the power to hurt us that badly.
Earlier this month, Christians around the globe celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ. To rise again, however, Christ first had to die, and the path to the cross was paved by one whom Jesus counted among his closest friends and confidantes.
One whose name has become synonymous with betrayal after he greeted Jesus with a kiss in Gethsemane’s garden.
The one known as Judas Iscariot.
Like me, maybe you’ve experienced small-scale betrayal: Garden-variety stuff that did not result in the loss of your life or your livelihood. In middle school, a once-close friend abandoned you for a more popular crowd. In the workplace, a coworker took credit for your ideas resulting in a promotion that should have been yours. In a church you served, you joyfully welcomed parishioners into your home and your heart only to hear through the grapevine they were attending elsewhere.
Some of you, though, have survived relational treachery that you're still recovering from years afterwards.
My longtime friend Monica (name has been changed), flew to Florida to help her best friend move back to the hometown she’d left just six months before, only to discover that the “friend” who had solicited her help had returned because she was having an affair with Monica’s husband. If this double betrayal shocks you, perhaps you can imagine the agony Monica has experienced because of the pit these two threw her into. (The comparison to Joseph’s story of betrayal at the hands of his own brothers is entirely intentional.)
Author Georgia Shaffer gave me permission to share a bit of her story.
“Several years ago, I discovered my fiancé had been having a secret relationship with a married woman for more than a year. That betrayal rocked my world even more than my divorce had. After all, I had written several books on How NOT to Date a Loser and 12 Smart Choices to Finding the Right Guy. Now I was left wondering how I missed what was really happening?”
(If you’d like to hear more of Georgia’s story, check out the interview she did here with Leslie Vernick.)
When you’ve been thrown into a pit the way “Monica” and Georgia were, how on God’s green earth do you ever muster the energy to climb out of it and trust people again?
Georgia has reassembled the shattered pieces of her own life (an abusive father, diagnosis of terminal cancer, divorce, single motherhood, a duplicitous fiancé) into a national ministry of writing, speaking, and coaching to help others recover from devastating loss. Her “Mourning Glory” minutes are a testament to God’s grace as well as Georgia's strong faith and sheer perseverance.
Here are Georgia's tips on how to begin the healing process after betrayal. She says it starts with gathering a support team, and recognizing the thoughts and questions keeping you trapped.
“Now that you’ve tackled those first two tips to help you heal from your betrayal,” writes Georgia, “here are two more to help you continue moving forward.
Change How You See and Think about the Betrayal
“Broken trust injures us on so many levels. We who have been betrayed often are blamed because we did not see what was really there. Honestly, sometimes we do ignore or minimize key information. But sometimes we don’t. Either way, we are still left with the consequences of someone else’s poor behavior or lack of integrity. We need compassion, not judgment, because we already feel stupid.
“Rather than speculating about the reasons why your partner inflicted such pain, it is far more beneficial to concentrate your attention on your healing, your ability to grow and move forward.
“Here is what we need to understand: Our ability to heal does not depend on what the betrayer does or does not do, or on what they said or did not say.
“You cannot wait for the person who hurt you to heal you, because it may never happen. Even if they admit what they did, you won’t necessarily feel better because you have been wounded, and wounds need to heal.
“To change how you see and think about the betrayal, stop dwelling on the person who hurt you and why this happened, and instead focus on what will help you to heal and move on.
"We know that research on the neuroplasticity of our brain confirms what God has already told us in Scripture: You have to intentionally train your brain to think positive thoughts. As Paul tells us in Philippians 4:8 (NLT), “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
Don’t Allow Distrust to Shrink Your World
"Trusting again is difficult when we have been betrayed. It’s so easy to end up being mistrustful of people in general – and especially those closest to us – after we have been deeply hurt. It’s tempting to become paranoid or to make a permanent decision to never trust again. After all, how do you know it won’t happen again?
"The sad truth is that you don’t. There are never any guarantees that you will be safe and secure with those you love. Trust is a risk, not a fault.
"Eventually, you need to take small, calculated risks. Without taking any risks, your world will become smaller and smaller as you try to keep yourself safe from pain and hurt. Don’t build walls around you and don’t let betrayal control the way you live your life.
When the shame of being deceived starts to scream, ask yourself: What’s the alternative? A hard untrusting heart? That’s no way to live.
"Yes, be cautious in the future, learn from what happened to you, but remember that with God’s help – along with the guidance and support of others, you can eventually take the risk and trust again.” - Georgia Shaffer
If you’ve been burned by betrayal, friend, may I personally encourage you to rise up?
Rise above the betrayal by refusing to allow the one(s) who hurt you to bring you down to their level.
Rise up by rejecting retaliation.
Rise up by remembering that God sees what others don’t, and he will never, ever leave you.
Portions of this post adapted from upcoming book by Maggie Wallem Rowe, Life is Sweet, Y’all! (March 2022 from Tyndale House)
For more information about Georgia Shaffer’s ministry, visit her online home here: https://georgiashaffer.com/.