Dealing With Betrayal: 18 Ministry Experts Weigh In

Dealing with BetrayalIt wasn’t so long ago, I began feeling a deep ache in my chest as my chin began to tremble and I came to terms with the reality of betrayal. An individual who I respected and to whom I submitted my loyalty didn’t reciprocate.

The grief was intense and soared through me with feelings of sadness, vengeance and malice. If you have been betrayed, you know the emotional and physical response following such an offense.

It doesn’t take long before grief turns to bitterness and bitterness leads to a breach in relationship with God. I’ve experienced the rift caused by unforgiveness and its hindrance to my peace and fulfillment of God’s assignment.

Betrayal is a respecter of no man or woman. Betrayal touches every life at some point and requires our attention.

Because the our response to betrayal impacts the God’s Kingdom, I’ve asked the experts:

What is ONE thing that you do after you feel you have been betrayed?

Expert 1: Margaret Feinberg

margaretfeinberg.com Twitter: @mafeinberg

margaret feinbergMargaret Feinberg is one of the most influential Christian leaders of today’s generation.  She shares deep spiritual knowledge and enlightened perspective to her readers and audience.  She’s the author of  Organic God, Wonderstruck and Fight Back With Joy and a whole bunch more!

Margaret weighs in:
The wonder of forgiveness invites us to live alert to the work of God among us. All too often, a pardon follows an apology, an expression of sorrow, an act of repentance, or after a set of criteria has been met. But the absolution Jesus suggests to Peter is absurd. Jesus suggests that even when the apology becomes insincere, even when the person doesn’t really mean what they’re saying, even when you’re beyond hope the other person will ever change, keep on dispensing grace. Jesus teaches Peter to embrace an inexhaustible forgiveness—one whose only condition is that we keep extending it.

As followers of Jesus, we’re commanded to forgive just as we’ve been forgiven. Indeed, Jesus says that God’s pardon of us is dependent on our forgiving others. God calls us to the life of forgiveness. In forgiving the undeserving, I submit myself to God, and Christ’s clemency flows through me.

Expert 2: Jenni Catron

 jennicatron.com  Twitter: @JenniCatron

jenni-portraitJenni is a leader of leaders.  She is the author of Jenni is the author of  Clout: Discover and Unleash Your God-Given Influence and The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership.

 

Jenni weighs in:

Whatever the circumstances, betrayal typically involves being hurt by another person, oftentimes someone we care about. As a result it triggers some of our deepest fears and insecurities. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of not measuring up. Fear of being alone or unwanted. When I’m dealing with a betrayal and consequently the flood of emotions resulting from it, I challenge myself to process two questions:

What do I need to own?

What do I know is true?

Oftentimes when someone betrays me, there is something I could have done better. I will consider what I can own from the situation. This isn’t intended to beat myself up. It’s just meant to help me find ways that I can continue to grow.

Additionally, I sift through the situation to remember what is true about myself, the other person, and the circumstances that led to the betrayal. While the betrayal was painful, perhaps there were circumstances that caused the other person to behave the way they did. It doesn’t dismiss the hurt, but it leaves me open to extending some grace.

Expert 3: Felicity Dale

 simplychurch.com  Twitter: @felicitydale

felicity daleFelicity Dale is the author of An Army of Ordinary People as well as the co-author of Simply Church, Small is Big and The Black Swan Effect.

 

 

Felicity weighs in:
Thankfully, the occasions in my life when I have felt betrayed are very few, but when it happens, I have to make sure I’m handling it in a godly manner.

Was I in any way responsible for what that person did? (If the answer is yes, then I need to take steps to put it right.) Have I forgiven them? This can be tough, but it’s vital that we don’t harbor any bitterness or anger in our heart because that gives the devil an opportunity in our own lives (Ephesians 4:26-27). As someone has said, holding onto bitterness and unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.

Finally I pray that God will bless them, and that He will help me to love them. This includes not passing on to others (except in very rare circumstances) anything about what has gone on.

Expert 4: Janel Breitenstein

 agenerousgrace.com  Twitter: @janelbreit

Janel breitensteinJanel is a wife, mom and passionate for the Ugandan people.  She writes on practical Christian living which she refers to as “Jesus with Jeans on”

 

 

Janel weighs in:
I’ve been told that everything God asks for us to do in a conflict—particularly a deep, heart-twisting one like betrayal—is against what we naturally want to do. It’s true: God’s response to goes against my instinct to create distance, say something snarky, mentally elevate myself as morally superior.

The truth? I’m a betrayer. Everything God did in Jesus is His response to my betrayal to Him: absorbing my guilt and very just consequence. Going to extreme lengths to close the distance I created. Loving me enough to tell me the truth. So as weird as it sounds, betrayal’s a chance for me to play out all over again what God displayed on a much larger, more elaborate scale for me. 

Expert 5: Julie Pierce

empoweredbypierce.com  Twitter: @julie_pierce

julie-pierce-headshot-2 (1)Julie is a leadership coach, author of Play Team Play and creator of some pretty cool conversation cards for teams.  

 

 

Julie weighs in:
What I’ve learned over the years about betrayal is that so often it has nothing to do with me at all. The person I feel is stabbing me in the back or hanging me out to dry isn’t really thinking about me, but themselves. They are so unhealthy, so deceived, so overwhelmed, or so unglued, they can’t see the impact and implications their actions are having on anyone. The one thing I do when I feel betrayed is to take responsibility for my reaction and response. I can choose to express my feelings to them, work through the pain of the betrayal, forgive the offender, and put up healthy boundaries for future interactions.

Expert 6: Mary Fairchild

christianity.about.com Twitter: @MaryFairchild

mary fairchildMary manages christianity.about.com as well as serving alongside the pastor of Calvary Chapel in St. Petersburg, Florida. Since 2005, Mary has authored numerous articles on biblical topics and edited several Christian books.  She is known for her mix of spiritual insight and humor.

 

Mary weighs in:
Did you mean AFTER I crawl into fetal position, have a good cry, and then eat some chocolate? I take my broken heart to Jesus and ask him to help me recover and forgive. I keep on doing that until my heart is free again. Free from the anger, bitterness, resentment and hurt.

Expert 7: Melissa Spoelstra

melissaspoelstra.com  Twitter: @melspoelstra

melissa spoelstraMelissa is the author of Jeremiah: Daring to Hope in an Unstable World complete with video sessions, leaders guide, as well as the Bible study book and Watch for Joseph: The Journey to Forgivness

 

 

Melissa weighs in:
The Next Right Thing! Instead of trying to figure everything out and allow my brain to overanalyze, I ask God to help me determine the next right thing. Joseph in the Old Testament was betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery. In Potiphar’s house he did the next right thing by working hard and maintaining his integrity. Then Potiphar’s wife betrayed him by falsely accusing him of rape. Yet rather than sulk or get revenge, Joseph did the next right thing – he served the other inmates. Sometimes the next right thing is to serve others, other times we need to acknowledge feelings. God may call us to put up some boundaries or find a way to give a blessing to our betrayer. No “one size fits all” formula exists when it comes to betrayal other than seeking God’s wisdom in determining the next right thing for us on our personal journeys to forgiveness.

Expert 8: Nicki Koziarz

 nickikoziarz.com Twitter: @nickikoziarz

nicki koziarzNicki serves on staff at Proverbs 31 Ministries, where she gets to help lead thousands of women through their online Bible studies.

 

 

Nicki weighs in:
I would say the one thing I do while I’m processing a betrayal is ask myself this question, “What’s it like on the other side of me?” 

It’s a powerful question to ask for a perspective that only God can give us beyond ourselves. Most likely the betrayal from the other person has come from a place of their own wounding. And sometimes asking that question helps me see it … other times asking that question helps me remember to never treat someone the way I’ve been treated.

Expert 9: Amy Carroll

amycarroll.org Twitter: @amycarroll31

Amy-CarrollAmy is a speaker with Proverbs 31 Ministries and author of Breaking Up With Perfect

 

 

Amy weighs in:
After I’ve been betrayed, I remind myself of my own capacity for betrayal. It might sound cynical, but I don’t have any confidence in myself or others to avoid utter failure when it comes to loving others well. Only Jesus is flawless in the way He loves. Only He is entirely faithful, so I trust Him entirely. Everybody else? Well, I expect failure. Acknowledging human imperfection doesn’t make me shy away from relationships, though; it brings great freedom! Instead of being hurt and shocked by betrayal, knowing failure is part of the human equation allows me to be ready with the abundant grace that Jesus has extended to me.

Expert 10: Tim Parson

 timparsons.me Twitter: @_TimParsons_

tim parsons (1)Tim serves as an Executive Pastor for First Assembly Community Ministries and is the Co-Founder of Church Leader Strategies.  His blog was recently named as a Top 30 Blog That Christian Leaders Need to Read in 2015.

 

Tim weighs in:
Betrayal can be one of the most hurtful and discouraging things a person has to deal with.  Why?  Because at the foundation is TRUST.  The only person that can betray you is someone you trust.  And, when that trust is broken, it can be hard to feel good about yourself…which leads to a person being guarded and that causes them to be slow to trust again.

The key here is to process betrayal in a healthy way.  And the one thing that I find that I do when faced with betrayal is that I REFLECT.  When I am reflecting on a relationship that was built on trust and then crushed through betrayal, I ask myself three questions to help me heal from it: What role, if any, did I play in the betrayal?  Are there things in the betrayer’s life and circumstances, outside of our relationship, that may have influenced the betrayal?  And, what steps do I need to take to make room for God to heal this hurt in my life?

Although the relationship that is now broken and damaged is a great concern, my bigger fear in this is my ability to trust again…and risk being betrayed and hurt again. I have to fight the temptation to put up walls and close everyone out.  But, I believe that in the midst of betrayal is an opportunity for God to open the door for healing, growth, and better relationships!

Expert 11: Suzie Eller

 tsuzanneeller.com  Twitter: @suzanneeller

suzie (1)Suzie Eller is the author of The Unburdened Heart and The Mended Heart as well as a speaker with Proverbs 31 Ministires.

 

 

Suzie weighs in:
When you’ve been betrayed, be honest with yourself, with God, and with the person about how that impacted you. But in that order. The first allows you to process the feelings. The second offers a safe place to grieve, to be angry, to ask for wisdom, and to seek healing. Then you are ready to share how this impacted you, and what you hope for in the future with the person who betrayed you. Maybe they’ll hear you. Maybe they won’t. But you walk away knowing you’ve responded in a healthy way, and whether they choose to be whole or not is up to them.

Although the relationship that is now broken and damaged is a great concern, my bigger fear in this is my ability to trust again…and risk being betrayed and hurt again. I have to fight the temptation to put up walls and close everyone out.  But, I believe that in the midst of betrayal is an opportunity for God to open the door for healing, growth, and better relationships!

Expert 12: Rosilind Jukic

 rosilindjukic.com  Twitter: @alittlernr

Rosilind-profile-2Rosilind is a Pacific Northwest native and a missionary living in Croatia with her Bosnian husband.  She is also the author of A Little R&R and the founder of Missional Call.

 

Rosilind weighs in:
Usually after the initial shock, I take time to pray and make sure my heart is in a right place. This may take some time for me, but I must be assured that my heart is right so my emotions can come into proper alignment. Then I try to comfort myself with God’s Word.  When my heart has come to a place of peace, I ask myself two questions:

  1. Is this something I should (or need to) confront? Do I need to go to this person and try to resolve this situation?
  2. What does the Lord want to teach me through this?

The first question is essential, because there are times when a loving confrontation must happen. In order for that to happen, I must have a heart of love for that person, otherwise my confrontation will only make the situation worse.

The second question is also essential, because God uses every situation – even those ones that are painful.

Expert 13: Elisa Morgan

elisamorgan.com  Twitter:@elisa_morgan

elisa morganElisa Morgan was named by Christianity Today as one of the top fifty women influencing today’s church and author of over twenty-five books.

 

 

Elisa weighs in:
The ONE thing I do after I feel I’ve been betrayed? Honestly?

I think I look sincerely (and a little freaked-out-ly) at what I might have done to cause the mess. I tend to self-blame and self-shame pretty quickly. So, after I feel I’ve been betrayed, I usually find myself in the shame closet, mulling over and over what I did wrong to deserve the rejection.

THEN, after I sense Jesus bending low to my mess, I feel him lift my chin and look me in the eyes with love, assuring me that even if I did mess up, he’s got me and my mess, offering the forgiveness I might need as well as the forgiveness I might need to extend another.

Expert 14: Sharon Jaynes

sharonjaynes.com  Twitter: @sharonjaynes

sharon jaynesSharon is the former vice-president of Proverbs 31 Ministries, author of 18 books and co-founder of Girlfriends in God.

 

 

Sharon weighs in:
“Just trust me.” When I hear those words in a movie, I always know something bad is about to happen. Through the years, my trust has been broken time and time again. I suppose that is true for most of us. So what do we do when that happens?

To be honest, the first thing I do is probably cry…if not outwardly, then inwardly. I can’t think of too many disappointments that surpass a breach of trust from a friend. Then I let some time pass for my emotions to settle down so that I can react with my head and not my hurt heart. I’ve learned the hard way that reacting when emotions are at their worst never results in an outcome that is best. So I pray. I calm down. And then when I’m brave, I confront the person about the breach of trust. Sometimes that works out, sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s what Jesus says to do none-the-less (Matthew 18:15; Luke 3).

In the end, I always, always, forgive the offender. However, depending on the result of the confrontation, I proceed with caution in sharing sensitive and personal details with that person in the future.

Expert 15: Lori Hatcher

lorihatcher.com  Twitter: @lorihatcher2

lori hatcherLori Hatcher’s blog has been named as one of the top 100 blogs by womensbiblecafe.com.  She is also the author of Hungry for God …. Starving for Time, 5-Minute Devotions for Busy Women.

 

 

Lori weighs in:
I immediately homed in on the word “feel.” Sometimes I feel betrayed, but feelings can be deceiving. It’s super important, then, to give the person the benefit of the doubt. Rather than taking someone else’s word, listening to gossip, or inferring something that may or may not be true, it’s important to go to the source.

I remember an instance when a friend asked to speak privately to me. I’d said some things that made her feel devalued, and rather than allow hurt feelings to fester and damage our relationship, she stepped outside her comfort zone and talked with me about it. She gave me the chance to explain why I’d said what I said and clear up the misunderstanding. Because of her courage (and choice to give me a chance to explain) our friendship became stronger than ever. I know some instances of betrayal are valid, but before we jump to conclusions, it’s important to give the other person a chance to explain him or herself. Giving someone the benefit of the doubt can save a valuable friendship or relationship.

Expert 16: Sharon Hodde Miller

sheworships.com  Twitter@SHoddeMiller

Ssharon hodde millerharon is a regular contributing author to Christianity Today’s blog for women– Her.meneutics, and has also been featured in Christianity Today’s print magazine,Relevant, (in)courage, PropelGifted for Leadership, LifeWay’s Collegiate magazine, and The Gospel Project blog. Sharon has also contributed to the recently released NIV Bible for Women.

 

Sharon weighs in:
I don’t think anyone ever warned me how painful it is to be betrayed by a friend, but it is one of the greatest wounds I have suffered in my life. It’s a special kind of hurt that sticks in your brain and replays over and over. That mental loop, of hashing out the details again and again, is easy to get stuck in. You become paralyzed in a place of anger and hurt.

So for me, the only way to break that cycle is to actively think about God and praise Him. 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to “take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ,” and I think that’s the only way to climb out of that emotional muck. Every time your mind spirals down into rehashing, or questioning, or planning a great comeback–stop yourself, and meditate on God. Think about who he is, what he has done, how he responded to his own betrayal, why he is good, how he is faithful, and what he promises us. Recite those truths again and again and again, write them on your heart–and eventually, it retrains your heart.

Expert 17: Sarah Bessey

sarahbessy.com Twitter: @sarahbessey

sarah besseySarah writes about the intersections of a spirit-filled life and bravely takes on the awkward topics everyone really wants to talk about but doesn’t.  She is also the author of Jesus Feminist and Out of Sorts. 

 

Sarah weighs in:
It sounds simple but first I acknowledge it! Instead of pretending I’m fine, I let myself feel the betrayal and the sadness so that I can live through it. Then I talk to my people and work through the situation. I choose to forgive, too, long before forgiveness is asked. It’s the only way to release it daily.

Expert 18: Katie Westenberg

 ichoosebrave.com Facebook: facebook.com/ichoosebrave

Katie-picKatie is a homeschooling mama who bravely writes truth.  She admittedly doesn’t have it all figured out but bravely seeks to follow God and, bravely, get up and try again the next day when it didn’t quite go right.

 

Katie weighs in:
Just last year I went through a trying time of feeling very betrayed.  I wish I could say my reflex was grace and humility, but the emotions of shock and surprise, hurt and anger, brought about thoughts of defensiveness and vengefulness and had me seeking to justify my position, my righteousness.  By the grace of God, the absolute best first response I could muster in that situation was to shut my mouth.  My heart was a mess and I had loads of work to do there, but in the meantime I needed to simply shut my mouth.  I let accusations fly by without response, I let my anger simmer down and the emotions abate, which afforded me time to talk to God and sort out all the hurt with Him before I spit back fiery barbs, fuel to the fire.  And let me tell you, when you’re a word girl, those carefully crafted, stinging responses come out all too easy.  But the simple practice of biting my tongue until I had really sorted things out, left me far fewer regrets, far fewer words I wish I could take back.  And for that, I’m incredibly thankful.  So when life gets rough and those feelings of betrayal come, fight hard to hold your tongue until you can sort out your emotions and respond in a way you won’t regret down the road.

Bonus Expert: Jill Savage

jillsavage.org Twitter: @jillsavage

 

jillsavage (1)Jill is The Go-To Mom.  An author and speaker, Jill is passionate about encouraging families. Featured on Focus on the Family, Crosswalk.com, and as the host of the Heartbeat radio program, Jill is the founder and director of Hearts at Home, an organization that encourages moms.

Jill weighs in:
Betrayal is hard. There’s no way around it.  It is one of the deepest hurts we can experience. Yet, it also gives us the greatest opportunity for growth.

After I shed a few tears and take a look at what I contributed to the situation, I’ve learned it is helpful to see the other person through God’s eyes: broken, wounded, and still growing and maturing themselves. If they’re not a believer, then they are in the need of a Savior.  When I can see them through God’s eyes, it increases my compassion for them.  This helps me walk through the choice to forgive and keeps bitterness at bay.

Bonus Expert: Jenifer Metzger

jenifermetzer.org Twitter: @jenifermetzger

 

Jenifer Metzger1Woman to Woman Ministries founder and co-leader, Jenifer Metzger, has a passion for ministering to and encouraging women. She is learning to say “yes” to God and loves the journey with Him.

Jenifer and her husband of 17 years, Jeremy, have four children whom she calls her blessings from Heaven. Jeremy and Jenifer are the associate pastors at their church as well as lead the children’s ministry, marriage ministry and outreach ministry. Jenifer is a housewife and homeschools her children.

 

Jenifer weighs in:

There have been several times in my life where I felt the sting of betrayal. My first response, let’s just be honest here, is to have a good cry, which gets me no where. I’ve learned that hurt people hurt people. The betrayal may not even have anything to do with me, I was just the person there at the time, the easy or quick target. Over the course of the years, I have learned that the only thing I can do is seek God through prayer. I have to pray for the one who betrayed me. The Bible says in Matthew 5, to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. That’s pretty clear. Then I have to forgive my betrayer. It doesn’t matter if they’ve asked for forgiveness, as Christians we are called to forgive. Praying for and forgiving our betrayer doesn’t always take the sting away, but it does open the door for healing.

 
ba headshot 2014Bobi Ann’s Final Thoughts

Overwhelmingly the theme all throughout this post is forgiveness.  Not one expert suggested forgiveness was easy or without great sacrifice on the part of the betrayed.  Yet, everyone acknowledged freedom is found in forgiveness.

My own experience with struggling to completely let go of an offense has each time led me to the reality of my own offense.  I am guilty.  My betrayal of the One who has bought me a pardon is no less vicious than my own disloyalty.  Every time it comes back to the cross.

….From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.–Luke 12:48

If you are a followers of Jesus, you have been given MUCH  It if for your freedom and healing, a great sacrifice of forgiveness is required.  It is a sacrifice because it hurts.  Lean in and experience healing coming from the One who knows (from experience) the harshest betrayal and lived to tell about it!!

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