/bəˈtrāəl,bēˈtrāəl/ noun 1. to lead astray 2. to deliver to an enemy by treachery 3. to fail or desert especially in time of need 4. to reveal unintentionally 5. to disclose in violation of confidence
Is it intentional or accidental?
What causes someone to betray another?
How does it affect us?
How do we move on from it?
Being betrayed is one of the deepest wounds a heart can ever experience. If you have never experienced betrayal, I pray that you prepare yourself because somewhere in life you will experience it. I hate to say it, but there is no way around it.
It’s possible that all the emotional pain we suffer is designed to prepare us for betrayal. For example, you have been trusting someone for a while, only to find out that you are not going in the same direction. Or the person parts ways with you in such a way that you are handed over to your fears. You had expectations in someone, only to be disappointed that when you needed them the most, they were completely not available to you.
Many times we don’t know what’s in our hearts until pain like betrayal happens. There is a saying that goes, “crisis reveals, absolute crisis reveals.” Betrayal can be in form of actions, behavior, or words. It happens in marriages, friendships, family, work, businesses, religious organizations and so on. Why do we call it betrayal? It’s because it happens in an established and solid relationship that has lasted over time. And then an element of surprise behavior happens and the person is left in shock.
Imagine for a moment that you have been married to the same person for 15 years, you have established so many things together in a long period of time, you trust each other that you’ve become convinced that this person has your best interest at heart. This person has shown that they will have your back no matter what and you feel that you are on the same page and are going in the same direction. They have proven this and you have no reason to doubt that you are both safe in the relationship. But all of a sudden this spouse (or friend, relative, business partner, etc.) does something completely unexpected. You are shocked and are confused. Why did they do it? Betrayal happens in marriage a lot. This is because you’re consistently getting to know and understand each other throughout the day to day life experiences.
You share your vulnerabilities with each other and you are convinced you know everything, only to be surprised that during an argument or disagreement your spouse uses intimate information against you. You are stunned. That feeling of betrayal so many times goes unaddressed and people end up shutting down their hearts or they go to the other extreme and lash out.
Some other examples of betrayal:
In a marriage - It can be in the form of disengaging in the relationship and focusing on other things unrelated to the marriage, like cheating, not caring, or breaking confidence.
In a family situation - It could be your parents not showing up to your wedding or other important events in your life.
In business – It could be that your partner makes decisions behind your back.
Now the question is, does the betrayer do what they do on purpose or is it accidental? Of course, the answer varies for each individual situation.
For the most part, a person will do what they believe in their heart is the best decision for the moment. So sometimes it could be accidental, but if the person has bad and evil intentions – meaning that they only care about what is best for them to get ahead or succeed at any cost in an unhealthy way, then it will be intentional. In this case, the betrayer is preserving themselves from pain, harm, or even consequences of their bad actions. When you trust someone in a relationship, but find out later that they are only doing what is best for them, it teaches us that we should be wise in how we interact with others and how we view ourselves.
As we develop relationships in any form, it’s very important that we are true to ourselves and to others. We have to be clear what we believe and value because we will live according to those beliefs and values. When people don’t know what they believe or value, they are prone to betray others without even being aware. People that have not been challenged or tested in what they believe will usually crack under pressure.
Jesus said in Matthew 10:16-22 NASB
Behold I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocents as doves. But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues; and you will even be brought before governors and kings for my sake, as a testimony to them and to the gentiles.
But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. For it not you who speak, but it is the spirit of your father who speaks in you.
Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.
Jesus warned us that betrayal will happen. Every time we avoid pain because of what we value or believe, we become prone to betray others. This is called self-preservation. We will do anything so that we are okay.
Jesus said, “be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” To be wise as a serpent is to make sure to not put yourself in harm’s way. However, if you are in harm’s way, be innocent as doves – in other words, don’t be harmful to others. Another way to put it – if you are a sheep and find yourself in the midst of wolves, you will be fearful because the chances of being eaten are very high. The only way to survive is to not be foolish and harmful. Therefore, if your brother or parent is capable of betraying you, Jesus has warned us that it would be foolish if we don’t pay attention.
If you believe and value God, but you are married to someone who doesn’t have the same stand, or are doing business with someone that has different values, it’s your responsibility to be wise and know how to relate to that person so that you don’t get hurt. Your spouse, friend, relative, parents, and business partner will do things that you may find disturbing. They may not do those things purposefully to hurt you and you don’t want to lose your values and become harmful.
Yes, your trust will be broken. But it is how you deal with your broken heart that determines whether you become a better person or a harmful person. What makes betrayal very painful is that element of surprise. When you don’t expect someone to lead you astray or to dessert you when you need them the most, it hurts. So how do we process betrayal?
Remember, crisis reveals and absolute crisis reveals. You will do that which is in your heart.
God will not betray you. Make your heart at home in His heart.
Learn to put all your trust in God and not people.
Be wise in how you choose to relate to others.
This helps because when others betray you, you will not be as surprised. Jesus said that this would happen, so you can also be aware that you have the capability to betray others. And if you don’t betray, it’s only by the grace of God that you didn’t choose to self-preserve, but to stand for what you believe to be true.
We’re all growing in our knowledge and understanding of God. That’s why we need to keep learning, so that when crisis hits us, we are willing and ready to endure anything for those things we believe. And we can endure with love towards others because we don’t want to hurt others because of what we believe to be true. That in itself has caused a lot of pain and betrayal to others.
Jesus was betrayed by one of his disciples. How did he handle it? He knew beforehand that he would be betrayed, so when it happened Jesus wasn’t surprised and He wasn’t harmful to anyone. We have to live our lives with the full knowledge that it may be our parents, spouse, or friend that will betray us. The most important thing is to continue to love in the midst of the pain. Putting all your expectations in a human being is in itself a setup for betrayal.
So many people have been stuck in the shock and pain of betrayal or some have become so bitter and resentful. Finally, learn to not only forgive but grieve the pain of the loss of trust, business, friendship, relationship or anything else lost as a result of betrayal, so that you can love again and move on with your life.