For anyone who has ever experienced betrayal, just the title of this post probably stirs up a torrent of emotions within you. You are able to instantly call to mind the face of your betrayer, and immediately those memories and feelings of betrayal resurface. This is the mystery and depth of the human heart.
When I was a teenager, I was betrayed. The details of the betrayal I experienced are not important for this post, but suffice it to say this: it wrecked me. Betrayal comes in many different degrees of seriousness, and what I experienced as a teenager was of a deeply personal and destructive nature. It rocked me to the core of my being and identity. Perhaps you can identify?
The nature of betrayal necessitates a relationship built on trust, or at least it is thought to be so by one party in the friendship. The moment of betrayal requires the conscious choice of one person to knowingly harm or turn against the other. It is always personal, and it is always an act of treachery in that relationship.
In our younger years, betrayal often looked like one friend gossiping behind the other friend's back, or a parent not keeping a promise to come to the big game. But it is often more serious in nature. It is the child who is molested by a relative, or the parents who neglect the basic needs of their children. It is the marriage partner who has an affair, or the business partner who secretly siphons money to the side. It is the church who turns on their pastor and his family. It is the friend who divulges another's deepest secrets, or the teenager who rebels against everything her family stands for. Betrayal is personal.
King David understood betrayal. In Psalm 55, his words so poignantly describe the experience of many who have been betrayed by their closest of friends:
"For it is not an enemy who taunts me - then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me - then I could hide from him. But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend. We used to take sweet counsel together; within God's house we walked in the throng...My companion stretched out his hand against his friends; he violated his covenant. His speech was smooth as butter, yet war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords."
I read David's words, and my heart cries "Yes! Yes!" I know that pain.
But it is YOU...
my familiar friend.
Can you hear the desperate and painful cry of betrayal in his words? Can you hear the shock, the confusion as he tries so desperately to make sense of it all, to understand how one so trusted could act so deceptively? Can you hear the "How could you?"
When I was betrayed, I tucked the pain of my story deep inside, and I did not let anyone know how deeply it went for a very long time. I tried to be forgiving, to just let it go, but my identity had been wrecked by betrayal to the point that I needed help from others in my journey toward healing.
I have learned through my own experience and through helping others that you can never be a fully genuine person when hiding those things that alter everything you know about yourself and your life. I think of the woman at a conference I attended who was afraid to share her story because of the power it held to hurt and expose others. How many of us walk around hiding the truth of what's really going on inside of us, for fear of how much it will hurt to make it known?
I would like to invite you, the one whose heart is trembling at these words as you recall your own pain, to come with me a on journey toward healing and understanding. The Gospel of Christ penetrates every aspect of our human existence, and as it does so, it shapes all of our experiences. As His children, it is the lens through which we view and interact with the world. What a lofty concept to think about, but it becomes so real when you bring it down to real life stuff - stuff like betrayal.
The wonderful thing about the cross of Christ is that it is a picture of hope and healing for the broken. Will you come bow with me at the cross? It is not an easy journey there, for it will require everything you are. But it is a journey that is worth it, for it will expose everything you once were only to reveal everything you can be in Christ.