If someone betrays you once, it’s their fault; if they betray you twice, it’s your fault. ~Eleanor Roosevelt
We are really big into “self-protection” these days. When someone hurts us – the first thing that we want to do is either lash back at them – or run, duck and cover. And while neither of these options are good choices and ultimately can leave a residual effect that follows you for years – it is good to know just how to handle your emotions when this does happen – if it has not happened – wait for it. It will.
We all have people and situations in our lives that bring us distress. Life is made up of imperfect human beings – from different backgrounds and families. To expect that everyone is like “me” – is unrealistic – and yet somehow we expect that people will act and react like us.
Betrayal can come in many different forms. The most important thing that I can do is to keep my own heart from bitterness and wrong motive. How do I do this?
1. Be more concerned about relationship than about being right How often have I felt justified to tell someone off – knowing they were DEAD WRONG and I was RIGHT? Holding my tongue was hard in those situations – but it also quickly diffused a very sticky situation. Words cannot be retracted – even with theatrical apologies. We have a funny and uncanny way of remembering. Words remain imprinted on the mind. Therefore – be slow to speak – careful to weigh each word and keep the relationship at the top of the priority list. If you HAVE to speak – do it carefully and with a lot of love.
2. Be the first to forgive Not easy to do. It writes and sings well – but putting that into everyday practice takes an act of my will. And living it day after day especially after I’ve said that I forgive – is even more difficult when things pop up from time to time that remind me of a nasty situation.
3. Maintain a standard of right behavior and don’t lower your behavior to compensate for others who don’t get it. We must model right behavior to others. Retaliation and the “blame game” is a junior high tactic that never worked very well when we WERE in junior high. Don’t resort to this as an adult – it never works – and makes you appear “smaller” to others.
4. Be loving – but not gullible. I’m guilty of this one. Where is the line? It’s hard to detect it sometimes. I have learned a lot – but have still not arrived. I love to get involved with people and hear about their lives, dreams, goals etc. I find it fascinating. I empathize with hurting and broken people. I’ve been told that I am naive and can be “played” – or at least that is what has happened on occasion. I’m wiser now and have learned a lesson or two about just whom I can have close to me or whom I can confide in, etc. It is like walking a “tightrope” for me – because I love to engage with people and believe that God made me like this for a reason. But gullible I am not – at least I have had to work very hard at it.
5. Accept that others will sometimes get it wrong – misjudge, jump to conclusions or turn away based on faulty information. Even Jesus was misjudged, treated badly and betrayed. He is our ultimate example. He still loved – He still gave – He did not compromise Himself – He did not blame or try to deflect – He was who He was – and even though others treated Him badly and ultimately had Him killed – He never tried to defend Himself, was never nasty to anyone – He told it like it was – that is all. He lived a life of love and acceptance of others – giving freely of Himself.
6. Always believe the best in people – even when they betray Again Jesus is our great example here. Jesus trained 12 men while He walked this earth. He knew they were only human and that some of them would turn away – He even knew about Judas betraying Him – and Peter denying Him before they did it. Still He believed the best for them and prayed for them. He lovingly restored Peter. How much more should we be able to forgive, believe the best and want to restore others to a healthy relationship with God and with us?
7. Find your worth and value in God alone I am in trouble the minute I have an expectation in someone and they let me down. Or they do not validate me like I think I deserve to be – or worse yet – they betray me. My worth is not based on what someone else thinks of me, says about me – or does to me. My worth and value come from God alone. When I remember this – it puts everything into perspective for me. Since I am highly valued by God – I can risk loving you too. There is no fear in stepping out and doing the right thing – because God LOVES ME. I am valuable to Him – He made me exactly like I am – and no one is just like me! There’s freedom in that!
8. Live a peaceful life – do not spin in other people’s drama How many times to we spin with things we should not? We get involved in other people’s lives in such a way that it is unhealthy for us and our family? We press in – where we have no business. Some things we need to walk away from – in order to have peace in our homes – and that includes good friends and family. Jesus bring peace to us and wants us to find that rest – He doesn’t call us to “spin” – but to be peacemakers in a lost and dying world. When we have peace and are restful spirits – we can minister to others in a more effective way.
9. Love your family and friends God has entrusted us with our spouse and our children. They are precious “gifts”. We are called to support and love them. God also gives us the “gift” of friendship too – those who do not HAVE to love us and be in our world – they choose to be. Be a good friend and it will be returned.
10. Be trustworthy When someone confides in you – BE TRUSTWORTHY. “Loose lips sink ships” was a phrase during WWII – and the enemy was able to break down our defenses because people “talked”. I take a confidence very seriously and I hope you do too. I have risked telling someone close to me too much about my personal stuff – only to have it told to someone who I did NOT want to know anything about it. It was horrible and painful and now it has made me wiser and much more determined to be a trustworthy friend. I hope your friends and family can trust you. I love it when people just know they can come to me about anything and that I will pray for them – but most of all – I will keep it to myself.
Remember – like Eleanor Roosevelt said above – be careful – guard yourself and take precautions – once is “shame on them” – but after that – it’s “shame on me”. Can you keep your guard up – and still love? Yes.