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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Nursing the Wounds of Betrayal

I can’t believe she did that! How could she have been so thoughtless? So cruel? So…fill in the blank.

We’ve all felt it, haven’t we? The sting of betrayal is like nothing else. If a stranger had said or done the same thing, it wouldn’t have hurt quite so much. But when you’ve given someone a closer look at the deepest parts of you…shown them the soft underbelly that isn’t for the world to see…let down your guard and trusted them enough to show your vulnerabilities… You don’t expect that person to poke at those soft places in your heart. And when they do? Well, that’s a pain unlike any other.

But what do we do with the feelings that follow? The Bible speaks of the limitless grace of forgiveness.

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”. –Matthew 18:21-22 (NIV)

But…How, Lord? How?

There’s something to be said for understanding your reactions, for defining the turmoil that’s going on in your heart. Much like the physical loss of a loved one, there are stages of our grief after the betrayal of a friend or loved one.

Denial. No way! She never would have said/done such a thing. I must have misunderstood. Let me look at this again because it just doesn’t make sense. She would never!

Anger. Does she really think she’s going to get away with that? How could she have said/done that!?What is WRONG with her? Doesn’t she know…

Bargaining. I don’t want to lose the friendship we’ve built, so I’m going to have to figure out a way to deal with this. I’ll wait and see what happens. If she sincerely apologizes, THEN…

Depression. The reality is sinking in now, and I can’t escape it. My friend/spouse/sister actually said/did that. I just don’t know what to do with this. How will I ever move on? It’s hopeless…

Acceptance. Well. What’s done is done. It is what it is. I’m going to have to figure out a way to forgive and move on, even if it means moving on without my friend. Help me, Jesus.

And so – at last! – we fall into the arms of grace and allow our faith to begin healing our heart and mind. In times like these, I often wonder why I had to go through the grief process, why I couldn’t have just immediately turned to Christ and tossed my burdens at his feet without facing all those demons head-on. But I’ve come to believe it’s an important part of the process. As humans, it seems we have to make our way to forgiveness. As hard as we try, we just don’t have the same capacity for love as the One who IS love, and we have to navigate toward his light in order to reflect it.

Working our way through the muck toward healing and forgiveness takes a little time. But keep your eye on the prize, my friend. And try to remember that pain, resentment, anger…these are all temporary bricks on the path that was laid to lead us through grace to eventual forgiveness. We cross over them; and quickly too, because they have a pretty rapid rate of growth. If we stand there with them long enough, they’ll eat us alive. So we fight our way over them, knowing that He’s waiting for us on the other side.

In times like these, while I’m hacking at the jungle between me and the forgiveness that offers my heart’s healing, a song called Losing (by TenthAvenue North) ministers to my heart.

“We think pain’s owed apologies and then it’ll stop.
Truth be told, it doesn't matter if they're sorry or not.
Freedom comes when we surrender to the sound
of Your mercy and Your grace. Father, send Your angels down.
Oh Father won't you forgive them;
they don't know what they've been doin'.
Oh Father, give me grace to forgive them,
cause I feel like the one losin'.”

Pain, suffering, betrayal…These are the things that make up parts of our lives, whether we like it or not. Pleasant? Absolutely not. But no matter how broken your heart feels, working your way through the jungle toward forgiveness is the only way to the other side. And reaching the other side is imperative. There are no lessons taught, and no one suffers by your unforgiveness…except you. 

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Sandra D. Bricker is a best-selling and award-winning author of laugh-out-loud romantic comedy for the Christian market. Her most popular series (that started with Always the Baker Never the Bride from Abingdon Press) will conclude this spring with Always the Baker FINALLY the Bride, which is now available for pre-order at Amazon.

Connect with the author on her website or on Facebook.


  1. Such a true post, Sandra. If we live long enough, we'll each be faced with this most hurtful of all betrayals, and we'll have the option of taking it to the Lord or holding on to the pain until it becomes a cancer in our heart and flesh. Sometimes the obedience of forgiveness takes time and repetition before it settles in and becomes real. But if we practice and obey, eventually the healing will follow.


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