All my enemies whisper together against me; they imagine the worst for me . . . Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me. Psalm 41: 7, 9 (NIV)
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Years ago my friend Chris was betrayed by a very close friend. Chris spent over two years mentoring this man, and trusted him so much that the protégé even managed all of Chris’s finances.
Then, one night, the protégé inexplicitly left a banquet being held in Chris’s honor, and he laid a trap which led to Chris being arrested on false charges. As Chris was arrested, the protégé leaned close and kissed him on the cheek, saying, “How are you, my blessed teacher?”
Can you imagine the pain and heartache Chris felt in that moment? Then again, perhaps you don’t have to imagine because you, too, have felt the sting of violated trust. Perhaps you’ve wondered if you could ever trust anyone ever again?
Here are three steps toward learning to trust again:
Reveal your hurt to God. Vent your frustrations to God. Tell him about the friend who betrayed your most intimate secret, the family member who broke a promise one too many times, or the co-worker who deliberately worked to make you look bad even while she pretended to be supporting you.
God will never be surprised or upset by your anger, your hurt, or your sense of loss over betrayal. You can tell him exactly how you feel, and trust him to understand.
Release those who’ve offended you. Forgiveness does not mean you instantly trust your friend again. God teaches us to forgive instantly and as many times as it takes; however, trust must be rebuilt over time. Trust must be re-earned.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to resume the relationship immediately, and it also doesn’t mean you have to resume it without any change. Your friend, or family member, will only be able to build your trust over time as she consistently and humbly shows that she is “one who lives honestly, practices righteousness, and acknowledges the truth in [her] heart—who does not slander with [her] tongue, who does not harm [her] friend or discredit [her] neighbor . . .” (Psalm 15:2-3 HCSB).
Re-focus your life. Don’t let anyone, particularly someone who has betrayed your trust, control you through a grip on your emotions. No doubt you’re feeling angry and hurt, but rather than trying to resist those thoughts, redirect them.
For instance, try to see the situation from God’s perspective, and remember his ability to take things that are hurtful or mean-spirited in our lives and turn them into good.
And that brings me back to my friend, Chris. He knew, without a doubt, that what his betrayer meant for bad, God could turn into good. You may have already figured out that my friend Chris is actually Jesus, betrayed with a kiss by Judas:
The betrayer had worked out a sign with them: “The one I kiss, that’s the one—seize him.” He went straight to Jesus, greeted him, “How are you, Rabbi?” and kissed him. Jesus said, “Friend, why this charade?” Then they came on him—grabbed him and roughed him up (Matthew 26:48-50 MSG).