Archives For Betrayal

When I’m talking with someone who has been deeply betrayed by a friend, a family member, or a coworker, they often ask, “How can I ever trust him again? He said he was sorry, but how do I know if he is truly sorry about the damage he’s done or if he’s just sorry he got caught? I don’t want to get burned again.”

Those are tough questions, because there’s a lot at stake for both the betrayer and the betrayed.

Rebuilding trust in a relationship after a bitter betrayal almost feels like an insurmountable task. No one in his right mind would dare trust a spouse who was unfaithful, a coworker who stole his good idea, or a friend who lied about him behind his back. Would you?

But what if that person apologizes? Then what? How can you know if someone has truly repented?

As Jesus’ followers, we talk about repentance—that radical change of heart and mind that alters one’s perspective and reshapes behavior patterns to look more like Jesus.  It’s been a part of the Jesus story from the beginning. John the Baptist referred to it as “producing fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matt. 3:8; Luke 3:8).

Testing repentance is vital to rebuilding trust in a broken relationship. So what are some of the signs of a repentant heart?

King David—a man whose deceit betrayed his wife and his nation—said it best: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise” (Ps. 51:17).

One place to begin looking for “fruit” that reveals a deeply rooted heart of repentance is in how the repentant betrayer responds when questioned. A repentant person demonstrates a humble attitude that is neither demanding nor defensive when questioned. There is an openness that replaces deceit, a willingness to be accountable for his or her actions on multiple levels without resorting to blaming others or making excuses for failures.

It’s only through experiencing a consistency in both attitudes and actions that reflect repentance that the betrayed individual will over time begin to take the risky steps towards trusting again.

How much time? As much as it takes.

And the repentant person will humbly wait for as long as it takes, knowing that the celebration over restoration will be a sweet harvest for both parties—a harvest that repentance and forgiveness has made possible because of Jesus’ example.

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret” (2 Cor. 7:10).

The major sports story this past week wasn’t what was accomplished on the field of play but what went on behind the scenes in the life of the man who was until recently renowned as the greatest competitive cyclist of all time—Lance Armstrong.

In his exclusive interview with Oprah Winfrey, Lance finally admitted what many have suspected and some have know for the last 14 years—that the 7-time Tour de France champion used performance-enhancing drugs and blood doping throughout his cycling career to gain an edge over his opponents.

As he described it, his “ruthless desire to win at all costs” drove him to brazenly lie about his use of banned substances for over a decade. His deep fear of losing propelled him to do whatever he thought it would take to win.

Losing was never an option for Lance. And that gets dangerous, not only for him, but for all of us who have drank from the winning-is-the-only-thing well.

When I watched Lance’s interview, what flashed through my mind was the scene from Cool Runnings, the 1993 Disney film about the Jamaican bobsled team at the Olympics. Irv, played by John Candy, was a former U.S. Olympic champion in the four-man bobsled event. He’d been stripped of his two gold metals and banned from competing in the sport ever again for cheating in his last competition by placing weights in the front of the sled.

Derice Bannock, the driver of the Jamaician team that Irv was coaching, asked him why he cheated and this was Irv’s response: ”It’s a fair question. It’s quite simple, really. I had to win. You see, Derice, I had made winning my whole life, and when you make winning your whole life, you have to keep on winning, no matter what. Understand?”

Derice: “No, I don’t understand. You won two gold medals. You had it all.”

Irv: “Derice, a gold medal is a wonderful thing. But if you’re not enough without it, you’ll never be enough with it”

When winning is everything, you’ll stop at nothing.

If we lose ourselves in winning at any price, we truly lose ourselves. We become less than who we were made to be. We fail to recognize that we are more than our accomplishments, more than our net worth, more than where we live or what we drive or what we wear.

Henri Nouwen writes in his book Bread for the Journey, “There is a great difference between successfulness and fruitfulness. Success comes from strength, control, and respectability. . . . Success brings many rewards and often fame. Fruits, however, come from weakness and vulnerability. And fruits are unique. . . . Let’s remind one another that what brings us true joy is not successfulness but fruitfulness” (Jan. 4).

I think Henri had it right. Hopefully, Lance is on his way to learning that too.

But what about you and me? How aware are you that you’re sacrificing your integrity at the alter of your drive for success? Whether it’s in your profession performance or keeping up a well-manicured image in relationships, it’s time to admit that all of us struggle.

I know I do.

Drivenness to succeed in ministry is still drivenness. It’s all about me. The apostle Paul reminds us to “make it our goal to please Him [Jesus]” (2 Cor. 5:9). When we focus on Him, it’s not about winning but about fruitfulness through faithfulness.

Lance reminded me in his interview that winning at all costs simply costs too much. Jesus’ invitation to follow Him and lose our life for His sake (Mark 8:35) is the way to discover a richness and fulfillment in life that surpasses any other finish line we may attempt to cross. And that’s the real victory.

Often people think that to forgive requires that you must forget what happened. Listen in as Dr. Dan Allender explains how the Bible requires the opposite: that we remember the offense in order for forgiveness to be most effective.

Divorce, abuse, betrayal are just a few of the wounds we suffer from others that are so damaging that it often feels impossible to ever forgive. Listen in as Dr. Dan Allender explains how there are no easy answers to these complex issues.

 

Why is adultery and infidelity hardly ever associated with the word “sin” today? Whether it’s the stories we hear in small groups at church or what we see on the television or at the theater, sex for immediate pleasure has become the highest priority. The idea that God has something bigger and even more pleasurable to offer to those who are faithful isn’t even an afterthought.

Forgiveness is a necessity for any meaningful relationship to last for more than a day. The reason is because we are so poor at loving well. Forgiving those who hurt us for the pain that we can’t forget is part of the ongoing gift of grace in relationships. But forgiveness is not just a verbal proclamation; it’s an on-going process of restoration.

Rejection is never pain-free. If it is, then you’ve steeled yourself to never allow anyone to really get close to you. However, honestly facing the pain of rejection from others–especially those you care about–can lead you to see more clearly whose opinion matters the most to you.

We live in a world where what was once considered immoral is now accepted as somewhat normal sexual behavior. An even more alarming fact is that affairs, and sexual promiscuity like “hooking up” are also becoming prevalent within the church. What is going on that has give rise to these shifts in values and behaviors?

Marriage is a sacred bond made by God in which, through the safety of commitment, we can trust our spouse more than anyone else. When an act of adultery breaks that commitment, trust can dissolve. Dan Allender speaks about the painful process of working through this issue and the hope that exists through God.