She Said WHAT?–Friendship After Betrayal
Remember that knot in your stomach when your best friend told that boy in 5th grade you thought he was cute, even though she promised not to? Or when she was silent and didn’t defend you when others spoke hurtful things about you? I do. Betrayal is devastating at any age and often has lasting consequences.
Don’t you wish those were just middle-school experiences that don’t happen in our grown-up world? Unfortunately though, most of us have felt the sting of betrayal in our adult relationships as well. Some are just eye-opening, but others rock our world.
So what should we do when our world is rocked by betrayal?
When someone we trust to value us, protect us, and defend us, doesn’t, what’s the answer? Do we “forgive and forget?” Do we cut our losses and move on? Do we ignore it and hope it doesn’t happen again?
I’ve had the wind knocked out of my sails a few times, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that friendships are precious and worth saving if at all possible. But I also know it requires wisdom, time, and effort to move forward.
After a betrayal, there are some truths you can hang on to and steps you can take to heal and to restore the relationship.
Truths To Hang On To For Healing:
- You are loved and worthy. No promise broken, no harsh word spoken, true or false, changes that. No one deserves to be betrayed regardless of fault. Choose to separate your worth from others’ words and actions. Hold those things up to God’s Word and decide which one you will believe. I choose to believe and speak as Romans 8:38 (NLT) declares, “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” I am God’s masterpiece (Eph 2:10, NLT), and so are you, and no word or deed has the power to change that.
- You are not alone. You have a deeply loyal friend who knows intimately what you suffer. Jesus was misread, misrepresented, lied about, abused, and completely abandoned. Yet, he did nothing but love others and serve them. Humans will fail us. You can trust that He never will.
As you keep these truths in mind, you can do the hard work to repair and rebuild the breach.
Steps to Take For Restoration:
- Stop replaying that heart-wrenching situation over and over. It only grows bigger in your mind and digs deeper ruts in your heart.
- Give your friend the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it was innocent. Maybe it was a moment of weakness that needs to be covered by grace. And maybe, if you’re willing to offer that grace, it will be measured back to you one day when you need it too.
- Give it some time and space, but then talk it out. If it’s big enough to leave you staring at the ceiling at night with tears streaming, it’s big enough to confront. When we ignore our hurts, they typically grow. However, speaking from big emotions makes us rash and usually unreasonable. Putting some time and distance between the incident and the conversation will help you disconnect a bit emotionally so you can formulate your thoughts and share them in a way others can hear.
- Forgive. Forgiveness of a betrayal is a choice to stop being angry and start being open to restoration. It frees us from being the victim, and it frees others from being in our debt. The betrayal can never be undone, so it has to be forgiven or we chain ourselves to it.
- Learn from the experience. Don’t mistake forgiveness for foolishness. Maybe your friend who gossiped about the struggles you’re having with your husband makes a lousy confidant, but still makes you laugh more than anyone else and would help you no matter what. It’s great to keep your friend, but it’s also wise to determine what boundaries need to be established to protect you, others, and the future of the relationship.
If your heart has been broken by an unfaithful friend, I am so sorry. There is nothing I can offer that can soften the blow of being hurt by those you trust. But I can assure you, it doesn’t have to grip your heart forever. As you sow seeds of truth, offer grace and forgiveness, talk it out, and set necessary boundaries, you can protect yourself and your friendships from permanent damage.
It will take effort to move past it, but please know that friends are a gift from God, and worth hanging on to if it’s in your power to do so.
And as you do what you’re able, you can trust God to fill your gaping holes and minister to your broken heart.
I’ll be praying for you, and I’d love to hear from you.