DEALING WITH THE BETRAYAL OF A TRUSTED FRIEND
I once had a childhood friend who I trusted so much. We grew up together, shared our dreams, family troubles, academic challenges, our hopes and aspirations. We prayed together, laughed together and then one day she just shut me out. She came back from school after a semester break and she just treated me like a stranger, not just I though, every other person that was our friend. I ran after her, tried to have conversations but all was to no avail. She acted like I was now beneath her; like she was better than me; like I didn’t exist. It hurt like a stab of a knife in my heart.
Whenever I saw her, a fresh pain will well up inside my heart; it was like nothing I ever felt before. Through one of her siblings that were also my friend, I realized she had made new friends in the university who she felt was more of her class and status, because all I had then was a diploma from a technical college. If you’ve ever felt betrayed by a beloved friend in this manner we often wonder how we are ever going to get through it?
As much as friendship is sweet and wonderful, so also can it be bitter and filled with regrets when a trusted friend breaks our trust, even as Christians. We all know it is unholy to keep grudges but it is usually a very tough situation to deal with, any reminder of what you used to have brings a fresh dose of pain.
So many people think that being betrayed by someone you are in love with is the worst pain one could endure, but I beg to differ; to be betrayed by a friend that is trusted; someone with whom you celebrated several milestones, who knows your fears and secrets, someone with whom you’ve eaten, played, cried and laugh is almost as painful. I always wonder how Job felt hearing what his trusted friends were saying in the time of his calamity. But he got over it and so can we by the grace of God.
Friends’ betrayal is in different ways; sharing your secret with someone else, backbiting you behind your back, failure to come through when you need them most, lie against you to cover their own image, turning other friends against you, deliberately disrupt your chance of getting ahead or just shuts you out. The list is long and it is most definitely more painful when the person is a believer with whom we have broken bread so many times.
I’ve had my heart broken by friends a couple of times and I can say it isn’t a palatable experience. The truth is, getting over the hurt of the betrayal of a trusted friend takes time, but by taking healthy steps, you will definitely get to that point where it doesn’t hurt like it is a fresh wound, and the keyword is ACCEPTANCE.
Steps to take after the betrayal of a trusted friend
- Accept the betrayal for what it is;
We may often find ourselves trying to deny the betrayal and the broken trust or making excuses for the person’s action. This is a great mistake. Accept the situation for what it truly is; a trusted friend has betrayed you; stabbed you in the back. It is only after you’ve accepted this fact that you can truly begin to heal. Don’t try to cover it up and pretend as if it nothing happened, you know it did; your heart has been broken, your trust has been shattered, and things between you two may never remain the same again. You have the right to feel hurt, to feel disappointment and probably even angry at yourself for trusting a traitor. Don’t judge yourself for feeling betrayed. The only thing is to not remain in a state of perpetual grief or anger.
- Accept the human factor;
The friend that betrayed you isn’t an angel and we are all prone to making mistakes. It was at the point of this realization that I had a breakthrough and I had the peace of mind that I so much craved. There were several times I asked myself why, why did she do it? Why did she shut me out like a stranger? But when I accepted the humble fact that she is only human and she did what she thought was best for her. I can make mistakes too (though not that particular mistake because I know how it feels) and I might have also hurt someone before, either knowingly or unknowingly, it will be unrighteous for me to totally crucify and condemn her for hurting me.
- Accept the lessons learnt:
You don’t know it all, a lot of people learn from their own mistakes, even though it’s advised to learn from the mistake of others. As we journey through this world as pilgrims, one way to brace yourself is to take the lessons you’ve learnt from your past as a compass to navigate through similar rough waters. Don’t just sweep it all under the carpet, realize your own mistakes and recognize the warning signs of impending betrayal that you once ignored. With this, you will keep yourself from getting hurt repeatedly.
- Accept the comfort of true friends and body of Christ;
So many times, we only see those we choose to see. There are still true friends out there that loves you just the way you are, genuine children of God, spend time with them and allow them to comfort you. You probably need those that truly love you to reassure you that you are worth loving and show you unconditional love. Don’t push your true friends and family away. Don’t live a life of continuous suspicions; suspecting everyone that loves you; believe me, it’s truly too stressful. Accept the love and the comfort of other friends, not everyone has an ulterior motive.
- Accept yourself for who you are;
Yes, we ought to improve and become a better version of ourselves as we go on along in life, letting the word of god purge us till we become the image of Christ within and without, but trying to change for the wrong reasons is bad. Why will you become a shadow of yourself just so you can please someone that hurt and betrayed you? No way. You are enough for your own happiness; Christ is enough. The Spirit of the Comforter is in you. Remember, after everyone has departed, you have to live with yourself continually till the end of your journey here on earth, so don’t engage in self pity, self condemnation, self detestation. The truest friend is still Jesus and yourself. Love youself.
- Accept the opportunity for closure;
Closure is you seeking to know or understand the reason for the action that hurt you. It’s not just broken romantic relationship that needs closure, a friendship that was wrecked by betrayal does too. There are times we nearly drive ourselves crazy trying to know why our friend treated us the way they did. Although there are cautious steps to be taken when seeking closure after a failed relationship, the point here is not to turn down an opportunity to meet with that friend that betrayed us to know why. The offer may have been from the second party or an offer was made by you and the other person in question accepted to meet and discuss. Knowing the reason behind the act of betrayal of a trusted friend doesn’t necessarily mean the hurt is forgiven and forgotten but it will definitely make it easier. With understanding comes a grace to shed off a burden of guilt, blame and confusion. The bible supports getting closure, advising us to call ourselves and if unfruitful to involve third parties.
But another pertinent question is this; what do we do when the friend that hurt us won’t give us closure? You asked to meet up and talk and you were stood up; you had opportunity to have a conversation, but the person won’t engage. What do you do?
- Accept that you may never know
It is no shame to accept that you may never know the reason behind their betrayal and move on. Don’t get obsessed with seeking closure that you refuse to go on with the purpose God has for your life. A friend that won’t give you the courtesy or dignity of a closure is not worth your obsession. And to be frank, sometimes, it’s better not to know. Not knowing could make forgiveness easier since you don’t know all the detail behind the betrayal. Some details are better left alone.
- Accept the assessment of loyal and honest friends
Talking about a betrayal could be hard, it sometimes makes us feel like fools and quite vulnerable, but it will do us a wealth of good especially when we couldn’t get closure. Let an unbiased third party give you their opinion and deal with your own part. There isn’t much you can do, some relationships are just meant for a while regardless of how sweet and fun it was.
- Accept this as justification to let them go
Believe me, you may be better off letting go of any future chance of getting back with a friend that hurt you and didn’t even care enough to apologize or tell you why. I know it hurts and you probably wish you never even knew the person, but you have to accept this as what it is, you can’t be friends again with someone that hurt you and won’t tell you why or apologize. You are better off. God made you for so much more.
Finally, whether we get closure after a betrayal or not, as children of God, we have to forgive. Remember the human factor. My life turned around the day I realized that forgiveness is a choice and not a feeling. It’s a choice you make consciously every time you remember the betrayal. Choose to forgive that friend because he/she is human and also forgive yourself for being a prey because you are human. Our father in heaven is supreme, and he asks that we forgive as he has forgiven us too. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be friends again, but it does mean you will get to a space where you don’t wish them evil but good.