The heartache that comes from betrayal by someone close to you in your life is hard to overcome.
Whether or not they intentionally meant to hurt you, once someone betrays your trust or tarnishes your relationship, the damage done to your heart is often irreversible. In our own strength, it’s nearly impossible to not let that one gouge in your heart grow into a chasm too wide and too deep to cross. Satan works in those gouges and he works aggressively. He engineers betrayal and fosters resentment. It is incredibly important for us to be acutely aware of the activities of the devil in these heart gouges and to wage war against him, ensuring we follow our Father’s example and leading.
Betrayal in some form or fashion is a given when you put two imperfect people together in a relationship. For us humans, it is impossible to love perfectly. But what others intend for evil, God intends for good. He can work in even the betrayal of our relationships. In those very broken places, we can learn about perfect love if we choose to turn to Him.
This perfect love I am speaking about is described in 1 Corinthians 13. After a betrayal, the two (for me) hardest parts of that verse to pursue in any relationship is the “trust” and “keeping no record of wrongs” parts. It seems that as soon as I try to move forward in a relationship with someone who has betrayed me, Satan nags at me with doubts about their actions and questions about their words. My mind will jump to a “what did they mean by that?” mentality at innocent comments made off the cuff and I will then tailspin into a self-destructive and ultimately, relationship destroying mind game where I guess and second guess at what that person’s heart and mind are actually thinking about me.
But you can’t pick and choose how you’re going to love. If you’re going to be in a God-honoring relationship, then you need to pursue these aspects of love. And if you’ve made the choice to reconcile, then my prayer for you would be that you’re choosing to pursue that God-honoring relationship. God has blessed me through the years to be in a lot of painful relationships where I have learned some very valuable lessons, and I’d love to pass them on to you.
Here are my top 10 practical tips for how to implement your choice to reconcile:
1) Forgive completely.
You’re going to need to choose to forgive them for more than they confess. You’re going to need to forgive them every day and every moment that you remember the offense. You may have heard people say that they’ll forgive, but never forget. That may seem like a good, practical way to guard your heart, but that’s not what Jesus said. He said to forgive as He forgave us. When He forgives us, the Bible tells us that He remembers no more. Our sins are cast as far as the east is from the west; our offenses are buried deep within the sea never to be seen again. We need to forgive the same way.
2) Choose to trust.
I do this by asking God to help me trust Him first. Then, I move to praying for the other person that they would put their hearts in His hands. And finally, I ask Him to please help me love them well – to be able trust them.
3) Guard your tongue.
You will be tempted to bring up past mistakes. Before you do so, take several hours to contemplate what you gain by that conversation. Do your comments only stoke fires that should have already been put out? Is behavior truly being repeated, or is it a suspicion on your heart and a figment of your imagination fueled by the devil who hates your happiness?
4) Seek wise counsel.
Look to people who love God and your God-honoring relationships more than they love you or the other person. Get them to surround you, to encourage you, to pray for you and to listen to you. Choose a different path than the same old path traveled before. Get biblical counseling from someone highly recommended.
5) Pray, pray, pray, and pray some more.
Whenever you feel tempted to run and hide in your relationship, or to lash out in anger, or to live in bitterness and resentment, choose to pray. Take it to the Lord in prayer and He who cares for us will be faithful to hear our prayers. He is faithful to answer… you can trust that.
6) Give it time.
Be patient in your prayers. God’s timing and His ways are rarely our ways, but His timing and ways are always perfect.
7) Have an open heart and open ears.
God also wants to work on us through the betrayal of others. What role do we play in our relationships? What responsibility do we carry in a betrayal? What do we need to learn about ourselves through the eyes of God.
8) Be a blessing.
Be that environment where they can see and experience Jesus. Satan can’t even compete with the blessings of grace, mercy and forgiveness demonstrated to others (no matter how undeserving) through us.
9) Don’t be a door mat.
If betrayal is continuous without repentance, then it might not be a God-honoring relationship to nurture. Depend on biblical, wise-counsel and the Holy Spirit to guide you on whether to stay or to leave.
10) Be hopeful.
God is awesome. He wants to see your relationships be God-honoring!!! Let Him make it so.
In the end, whether it’s your parents, your spouse, your siblings or your friends, God is the only One we can always trust without fail. And because we can always trust Him, because He chose to forgive us and remember our sins no more, because He supplies us with true love when we abide in Him, in our reconciliation with others, we too can chose to trust, forgive, and offer true love.
[Image via Just Ard/Flickr]