I probably should have written this post on betrayal before the post on forgiveness but there will always be a need for the latter because the former will always be something we have to deal with at some point in each of our lives. Betrayal seems to be inevitable unless we live in total isolation, connected to no one and caring about no one. But what kind of a life would that be, anyway?
Betrayal is the cost of the trusting life, the price of doing business, as they say. The alternative is to trust no one, form no friendships and always be on your guard. Because without trust there can be no betrayal, there is nothing to be betrayed. William Blake said, “It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend.” Why is this so? I think it’s because we expect harm not help from our enemies. When we experience harm at their hands, we are not surprised, we are not blindsided. Often we are even prepared for it, we expected no less from them. There is nothing to forgive, as they never promised us anything in the first place. There is no relationship/friendship lost because it was not there to begin with. You can’t lose something you never had. And, we saw the betrayal coming.
Not so with those we count on to have our best interests at heart, to have our backs. When they betray us we don’t see it coming. “I would rather my enemy’s sword pierce my heart than my friend’s dagger stab me in the back.”, is a quote that says it all. The back-stabbing betrayal is the one we don’t see coming, we are blindsided by it and we are defenseless against it. We are left wounded and in pain, to deal with the loss that accompanies all betrayals; the loss of trust, the loss of the one believed to have been a friend, now found to be a foe.
“Stab the body and it heals, but injure the heart and the wound lasts a lifetime.” (Mineko Iwasaki) And so we join the ranks of the “walking wounded”, ranks that are already quite full to be sure. How do we bear our betrayals? How do we protect ourselves against that which we cannot predict?
We do have a role model. Jesus was betrayed big time. But with a BIG difference. He wasn’t blindsided by the betrayals that came His way. Being fully God as well as fully man, He knew who would betray Him and when. He saw it coming and it didn’t change how He lived His life. He loved, He formed friendships, He gave Himself fully to His family, His friends, His followers, His disciples; He held back nothing of Himself. He fed the hungry, healed the sick and taught in the synagogues and on the hillsides. He made no effort to protect Himself from the betrayals He encountered along the way nor from the ultimate betrayal He knew awaited Him from one of the twelve people closest to Him. Betrayal from one who had shared in His ministry and professed loyalty and love to Him and His cause. Others didn’t see it coming, but Jesus did. He saw it coming and He stayed the course.
Jesus was never blindsided by betrayal at the hands of those He trusted. But I am, I am always blindsided, every time. I never see it coming. I am left devastated and dazed, wondering why it happened, trying to pick up the pieces that are left and fit them back together again. But the world has changed and the pieces don’t fit together anymore in this new reality. What to do? How to live now?
Jesus showed us the way. From the cross He said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” He told Peter that he would deny Him three times before sunrise, something Peter couldn’t imagine himself doing, and yet Peter did exactly as Jesus said he would. In Romans 12:18-21 we are given the antidote for the betrayals that we will inevitably suffer. Here it is, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
So these words then give us the remedy or rather the response we can give when betrayal blindsides us. This is not protection from betrayal but rather a plan of action for us the betrayed, once it has occurred. Other choices, such as protection through isolation or revenge have less than satisfactory results, shall we say.
But we have this assurance, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”(Exodus 14:14) Being still in the face of betrayal is hard for us to do. But if we do, we are told that God will fight on our behalf. What could be better? Jesus knows our pain. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are- yet was without sin.” Jesus will show us how to bear our betrayals without abandoning trust altogether and without resorting to revenge. Just as the final victory was His when He rose from His grave, conquering death, He enables us to live as more than conquerors every day that we follow His example rather than our own wisdom. (which isn’t all that wise)
So take heart dear readers, seek peace and pursue it in this season of peace and goodwill to all. May your betrayals be few and far between. And no matter how many times you are the betrayed, may you never be the betrayer. Though betrayal has only a blind side, may your eyes always remain open to the good in those around you, even when you have to look a little harder and a little longer before you see it. It will be worth your extra time and effort. Each person is always worth that and so much more.
sincerely, Grace Day
One thought on “The Blind Side of Betrayal”
Matthew 5:44, Jesus says to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. So contrary to our culture, and to what we feel when we are hurt! I find it a challenge to pray my way out of annoyance let alone betrayal.
Humility. Oh how many times must I learn.