Betrayal Hurts and that’s Okay

When I was in 8th grade, I told one of my good friends a secret about a crush I had on a boy. Although I had been wisely advised by my family not to trust her, I did anyway. You can guess what happened—she blabbed. She told everyone my secret.

The gossip spread like wildfire and before I knew it, I found myself standing in front of my locker being mocked and teased by my nemesis—the girl who had been bullying me since 3rd grade. This betrayal was the apex of 5 years of adolescent backstabbing and drama, and in this moment I reached my limit. I did something I am not proud of—I smacked this bully across the face, which whipped her head back against the metal locker. Justifiably, I was suspended from school for three days.

I should never have hit the girl in the first place, but isn’t that how we sometimes feel when we’re betrayed? Wouldn’t we like to hit a pillow or scream at something or someone? While I do not condone hitting, we need to understand that the feelings we experience when betrayed are valid. It hurts. A lot. And it makes us deeply angry.

Fast forward 18 years and here I am again on the betrayed side of a relationship. But this time, of all the people in my life, it was a close family member—a woman I’d looked up to for most of my life, a woman who knew my secrets, someone I trusted and wanted to emulate. And the betrayal wasn’t a simple act—it is something that has continued actively for 5 years.

I know so many of you deal with familial betrayal, and that the hurt becomes fresh every time you come home or visit family. This betrayal is unfair on so many levels. Not only are they part of your family or inner circle or your best friend—people you should be safe with—but you’ve given up so much to be on the field or support someone on the field, and then you have to deal with this. We already have so much going on with learning a language, leaving behind everything we’ve ever known, and moving. We deal with broken relationships and re-entering the country and raising kids in a new country. We raise support, miss our family and friends, and face so many fears. Then throw betrayal in the midst of all that and it just feels like one more hard—impossible—thing.

Betrayal is not just a loss of trust in that person. It is also a loss of the sense of self. I had so many questions like, Why did she betray me? Did I deserve this? What is wrong with me? The part of my personality that came out when she was around was lost. The part of me that was known by her was gone; I felt hung out to dry and suddenly very insecure. I went through a grieving process, trying to understand why she chose to leave and betray me.

In general, I feel that I’ve dealt with that pain, but every once in a while, something else will happen or someone will say something that triggers my sadness or my anger. And I have to deal with it all over again. The betrayal I’ve experienced is one that will likely not be redeemed on this earth. So I have to ask God for forgiveness of my anger and then I have to forgive the betrayal, which hurts all over again. As my sister reminds me often, forgiveness doesn’t mean trust or reconciliation (although that would be wonderful!);  it means sacrifice. When I forgive this person, I sacrifice my own desire for compensation and justification. Her sin against me has already been justified on the cross and I cannot hold it over her.

I’m not saying this is the process for all of us. What I am saying is that betrayals hurt and that pain is completely valid. I hope the next time you see your betrayer, you will have a little more peace and trust that Jesus has paid for that sin. I hope you will cry out to God, who is our comfort and knows ultimate betrayal. I hope that you will continue doing what He has called you to and not let the betrayal entrap you and keep you down, especially from Kingdom work.

And I also hope that my betrayer will be with me in Heaven so that we can embrace one another and perfectly forgive each other. That mental picture always adjusts my perspective and encourages me to not dwell on the past but to focus on where I am called to serve today. Maybe you can’t have that hope right now. If not, that’s okay; we always have hope that our tender God is constantly working out the redemption of betrayal.

How have you been betrayed?
What does forgiveness look like as you deal with the betrayal?

17 Comments

  1. Kim McDowall November 8, 2016

    Betrayal…
    A year and half ago in March 2015, what I refer to as March Madness, the unthinkable happened. Our org of 8 years suddenly let me husband go. After that day, a nightmare unfolded.We have experienced alot of difficulties through the years, but this is the single most difficult thing we’ve ever been through. The emotional pain has been so great. We were alienated. We were the team leaders of a large team–we lost everything. We lost our the leadership of an entire team where my husband recruited each of those people, we had to shut down the business we had started in our city, we were forced to move to another city because our org did not want us around any of “their” people. Our co-team leaders very quickly took over our team (they were only on the field less than 2 years; we had been on the field 12 years). I was in counseling for a year. Our twin sons who are now 18 have suffered greatly from all that they saw going on and the betrayal. A few months before my husband was let go, another couple was let go from our org. After we were let go, others have either left or we let go. It seems that in this org, if you bring up an issue against the org–you are gone. My husband had been pushing an issue with our org about a sizable financial issue from a previous country we had lived in, urging them to correct the issue. It would have exposed the org greatly. Instead, they chose to “shut my husband up.” I’ve not been the same since–none of us have been. The betrayal runs very deep and that couple who were our co-leaders–they refuse to reconcile or even speak to us. How they treated our boys was terrible. When our org let my husband go, he was in the US at the home office and I was on the field with our twin teen boys. No one talked to me. The member care guy and 2 other people flew in right after they let me husband go to meet with our time–minus me. They were having meetings in the apartment building right next to mine. they have no idea how terrified I felt, they gave us one more paycheck and at the end of the month we were off insurance. We literally had to start all over again. We had to re-raise our support.

    I feel like I am rambling. I could go on and on about so many details. After several months of talking to an awesome counselor, I figured out that this whole situation felt like a divorce. Although I’ve never been divorced, we all were experiencing the symptoms of the effects of divorce. In the middle of all of this pain, life goes on. In the middle of all of this pain, our first grandchild was born. In the middle of all of this pain, our daughter got engaged and was married a few months ago. In the middle of remnants of pain, still, our twins are seniors in high school this year. I’m trying to home school them because since we had to move to another city, there is no MK school here. We are helping them to apply to colleges in the US and the looming aspect of “losing” two children at once and the last of our four children–the empty nest is very near. I am pre-menopausal, we are trying to lead a new team in the city we moved to with a new (but very awesome and understanding) org. My emotions are all over the place!

    I am SO angry with our former org. They lie. They publish statistics that are inflated to make themselves look good. A few years ago they took one of my heartfelt stories and changed information to “glorify” the story and; therefore, they printed the untruth to do so.

    The ministry part of our lives is seeing alot of success. Is this the price we must pay to see success in ministry? When will I stop hurting? When will the pain go away? I am thankful to the Lord for His provision in His word, understanding and praying teammates, a wonderful new org, friends back home who have stood by us.

    I am SOOOOOO incredibly thankful for Velvet Ashes. I read many stories that tell me: I am not alone.

    1. Emily Smith November 9, 2016

      I am so sorry. You are not alone, but you also are not just an acceptable statistic. It isn’t less bad or less painful just because so many have walked through it.
      In my own counseling journey, one of the biggest things I’ve had to recognize and believe, is that God is just as angry with the sin done against me and the hurt that it caused as he was for others involved. I was in a situation where I saw myself as an acceptable sacrifice. Good things were happening…and if they came at my expense, this was the price God expected me to pay. That somehow the abuse and betrayal I suffered were acceptable, because good things were still happening.
      He can redeem. He can put back the broken pieces. But the abuse and betrayal are not an acceptable cost. He does not need them in order to bring people to him.
      I think there is also a difference between being betrayed by those who don’t claim to follow Christ. Or being falsely accused and rejected by the world. Those were things that we were told would happen. This is a natural cost of spreading the good news of Jesus.
      But being betrayed by fellow believers…I don’t think that is ever a necessary or acceptable cost. I don’t think this was ever what God intended. He is heartbroken every time. His church is not made up of buildings and orgs. It is made up of humans. And whenever people are sacrificed and marginalized and ignored…that is not part of God’s desire for the Church. People are not an acceptable cost.

      In short, if I were to answer your question, “Is this the price we must pay to see success?” I have to say, no. This is not the price we need to pay. It happens. It is real. It hurts. God will redeem and use it, but it is not a price he wants us to have to pay.

    2. Amy Young November 9, 2016

      Kim, there is so much “wrong” in your story and experience! (by wrong, I mean wrong done to you). I understand that sometimes people do need to be “let go” — BUT (and it is a VERY LARGE BUT), I am referring here to healthy orgs maybe needing to remove unhealthy people. BUT (another but :)), with the eye to them being healed and ideally restored to work on the field (or else where as the Lord leads). Your situation sounds the opposite, an unhealthy org removing healthy people so they can stay unhealthy. All the move devastating to you because of the relational and positional loss (with tons more loss too!). I am grateful you have gotten wise counsel and she is helping you to untangle this mess. I’m praying for you specifically as I type this. Cyber VA hugs to you and your family. Amy

  2. Emily Smith November 9, 2016

    Caitlin, your first story made me laugh. I don’t condone hitting either, but middle school drama generally is funny to me. And I needed to be able to start with a laugh. So, thank you for getting suspended all those years ago.

    But I think you hit on something big. There is the loss of sense of self. I hadn’t thought of it that way before. That helps me reframe some of why certain things hurt as badly as they did. Thank you for that and thank you for your honesty. One of the worst parts about betrayal for me was how alone I felt. And while I don’t want other people to have experienced the pain of betrayal, knowing I am not alone in this keeps the shame from winning. The insecurity and feeling like there is something wrong with me lose a little bit of power when I know other (normal and seemingly well adjusted) people have stories of betrayal.
    I also loved the distinction between forgiveness and trust and reconciliation. So helpful and so true.

    1. Caitlin L November 9, 2016

      Emily, I’m so sorry you’ve gone through all you have and you felt that you were some “acceptable sacrifice”. I’m glad though what God’s done through it all and how He’s worked in your life in the aftermath. Feeling alone is the enemy’s greatest lie and when people betray you and abuse you, that lie can devour you. It’s exactly the way you start become paralyzed and doubting truths. It’s a huge grief not only losing people through their betrayals, but losing that part of your life and part of your identity that came out when they were around (unless it was unhealthy!).
      It took me a long time to understand forgiveness and I still feel like I’m working through that. She hasn’t asked for forgiveness and yet, if I can’t forgive her, then my heart will be immersed in bitterness. But, I have to forgive without the possibility of reconciliation and that’s rough.
      I hope you are healing through all this and able to stand tall and see God’s true love for you.

  3. elizabeth November 9, 2016

    Caitlin, Emily, Kim, thank you for sharing.
    In the past 9 months we experienced betrayal by colleagues and then, to compound everything, betrayal by people from our home church who had been close friends for years. It has been painfully devastating and our wounds are fresh and deep. Some days I wonder if I will ever feel my “normal” self again. It feels like it has all been too much for my head and my heart. It is somewhat comforting to read the VA posts this week and know that we are not alone.
    I understand that we may not all go through the same process to reach forgiveness, but from my own experience I do believe that forgiving the betrayal is the only way forward to prevent myself from becoming a bitter, resentful mess. It is oh, so hard and a daily struggle for me at this point to control my mind in regards to the situation and forgive over and over again. “When I forgive this person, I sacrifice my own desire for compensation and justification. Her sin against me has already been justified on the cross and I cannot hold it over her.”
    “Betrayal is not just a loss of trust in that person. It is also a loss of the sense of self.” This has given me something fresh to ponder…
    Sorry for the rambling, I’m sure your post touches many of us deeply.

    1. Erika November 9, 2016

      I agree. Forgiveness is the only way to move forward but it is oh so hard!

    2. Caitlin L November 9, 2016

      Elizabeth, I’m so sorry for the betrayal you’ve experienced. I agree–forgiveness is the only way forward but it is so hard when they haven’t asked for it. It gives us a deeper understanding of God’s forgiveness to us. I’m glad that this post reached you and I hope it gives you hope as you move forward in your journey. God is a God of hope and love and He loves you so much!

  4. Erika November 9, 2016

    Thank you so much for publishing this. I really needed to hear “When I forgive this person, I sacrifice my own desire for compensation and justification. Her sin against me has already been justified on the cross and I cannot hold it over her.”

    I’ve been really struggling to forgive. I normally function fine and then suddenly a comment or a reference to a particular time brings everything rushing back.

    I so appreciate you sharing your story.

    1. Caitlin L November 9, 2016

      Erika, Glad this post spoke to you. I struggle with the same things–having a comment or something published in a public forum that just strikes my heart and I have to forgive again. It feels like I have to do it all over again, but I’m finding it easier and easier each time. I’ve been praying for me to have compassion towards my betrayer and it has really helped me in this fight against bitterness.

    1. Kristin Choitz November 9, 2016

      Whoops thought I was uploading a profile pic….ha! real nice. There is a huge big pic of me…embarrassing!
      Kristin

  5. Elizabeth November 9, 2016

    “In general, I feel that I’ve dealt with that pain, but every once in a while, something else will happen or someone will say something that triggers my sadness or my anger. And I have to deal with it all over again. The betrayal I’ve experienced is one that will likely not be redeemed on this earth. So I have to ask God for forgiveness of my anger and then I have to forgive the betrayal, which hurts all over again. As my sister reminds me often, forgiveness doesn’t mean trust or reconciliation (although that would be wonderful!); it means sacrifice. When I forgive this person, I sacrifice my own desire for compensation and justification. Her sin against me has already been justified on the cross and I cannot hold it over her.”

    Yes. Yes yes yes. I know this process well. You describe it perfectly, and I wish I never had to do it again. Now I know I have to repeat the process sometimes. It’s painful each and every time — although I will say, even when it’s extended family members, good boundaries are especially helpful in the healing process. I’ve learned better boundaries over time (we’re talking decades), and it’s been very helpful.

    Thank you for validating all these feelings and experiences today.

  6. Friday Round Up: Only the Good Stuff! November 11, 2016

    […] Betrayal Hurts and That’s Okay by Caitlin Lieder–  I regularly enjoy the words this dear one writes and this piece on forgiveness and betrayal is […]

  7. Lucille Zimmerman November 12, 2016

    Your writing is beautiful. I’m sharing on my Facebook author page.
    Can you tell me how you got the lettering on the image like that? It’s so cool.

  8. Anonymous November 19, 2016

    A position opened up at work when my colleague retired. It would have meant a significant promotion for me. My colleague urged me to apply for it and wrote a letter to the boss recommending me. He led me to believe I would be “the chosen one.” Instead it went to someone else. The announcement was made at our weekly staff meeting. I was not told in advance. My boss knew how much I wanted the job. I remember sitting there with a frozen smile, trying to maintain my composure.

  9. Brenda December 2, 2017

    Recently a friend broke a promise to me and I don’t think I’ll ever get over it. The issue was that her husband didn’t want her to become involved in my situation and asked that she “bow out.” I had foreseen his objection — he’s never liked me — and asked if she was sure it was all right with him. She said yes, it was fine. What she should have said was “I can’t promise anything until I talk with my husband.” But she didn’t. She knew how desperate I was. I feel that I can never trust her again.

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