Dealing with Betrayal

By Marjorie Foerster Eddington


How do you deal with betrayal?


It's hard. I know from experience. A friend of mine betrayed me. She must have felt guilty because she told me about it. I was feeling angry, hurt, and not good enough. It was not a fun time.

At the encouragement of some friends, I turned to my trusty Bible. I was thinking of all the instances where people in the Bible were betrayed. The first one that popped into my head was when Judas turned Jesus over to the Romans. That is most likely the worst form of betrayal. Jesus was whipped, hit over the head, spat at, mocked, and nailed to an uncomfortable wooden thing – the cross. Jesus had done nothing but bless the people around him. All he was trying to do was to love and help.

All the time, I had tried to love and support this girl through her problems. As I was thinking of her and my anger towards her, I remembered what Jesus said on the cross: "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34 KJV). If Jesus could forgive all those people for the humiliation, pain, and just plain injustice that they put him through, then I could forgive one girl for wanting attention.

Right there I decided that I needed to still love and support this girl. I didn't know what was going on in her mind, but I knew that I could change the way I was thinking about her. So, I forgave her … until I found out some other things that she had done that made forgiving even harder. Even so, I know that thinking, acting, and living like Jesus is the right way to respond to betrayal.

Jesus let go of his hate. Soon after the resurrection, he let go of his human experience and simply was not there any more: he ascended. I, too, can quickly let go of my anger. I can love this person for whom she is as God created her to be … even though it's difficult.

S.W., age 15

And if we find ourselves in a situation where someone has betrayed us, we can say with S.W., "I, too, can quickly let go of my anger. I can love." I can forgive. Knowing that we can forgive, even if we haven't forgiven yet, assures us of success! That's a great place to start.

Forgiveness is the only response that will enable us to move forward and not be trapped and bothered by unforgiveness. If we don't forgive, we give the other person power over our emotions, and therefore, over our experience. That doesn't mean we have to continue to spend time with people who have betrayed our trust. It's often wise not to confide in them. Sometimes we let a friendship go, and that's okay. But it is our duty to see each person correctly -- as God does.

Let's look a little more at Jesus' response to Judas. When Judas kissed him to indicate to the authorities that this indeed was the man to arrest, Jesus called Judas "friend" (Matt 26:50). Friend! That's how Jesus saw Judas. What a powerful vision. Jesus didn't take offense, didn't get upset, didn't even fight. Jesus simply saw Judas's spiritual, real identity, and that's what enabled Jesus to call him "friend."

Can we do that with those who have betrayed us? Can we see their God-given identities? Can we look at them the way God looks at them and thus forgive them? Of course we can! Jesus shows us how.