We hurt people. We fail. We make choices that ultimately affect the lives of others. Sometimes we are oblivious of the impact on another's life. Other times we're fully aware of the damage we've done, sometimes even intentionally.
The scarring from the wounds of betrayal are deep, permanent and life-changing.
The Mask of Betrayal - Fantasy versus Reality
"When Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe - the richly ornamented robe he was wearing - and they took him and threw him into the cistern." Genesis 37:23-24
You know the story. Joseph was betrayed by his brothers, stripped of his identity and sold into slavery.
What I believe may be one of the most painful encounters with betrayal is the head on collision of fantasy and reality. This is when what you thought to be true is exposed, only to reveal an alternate reality. This discovery is so contrary to what you perceived - or maybe even the lies you were told - that convincing yourself to believe this new idea of "reality" becomes a battle between truth and perception - or dare I say, deception.
The mask of betrayal comes off. You're face to face with a familiar person that you now recognize as a complete stranger. The pain cuts to the core at the harsh reality of trying to convince yourself they're not who they say they are - or who you believed and trusted them to be.
Attached to this false reality are deep wounds of hurt and anger because of what you were lead to believe. Making sense of the situation seems nearly impossible because, after all, how could you possibly know what or who to trust after such deception?
The Power of Betrayal - A Vicious Cycle
I referenced the "intentional" hurt that can be inflicted by someone who knows the power they hold over you. There is an irony that occurs when we look to someone else to desperately get what we need. We put them in the power seat, giving them control over us.
When someone figures out what we are expecting from them and then willingly chooses to withhold it, our neediness becomes their fuel. The more we need, the more we seek, the more we seek, the more they withhold, the more they withhold, the more we crave... The cycle is so toxic to our relationships, not to mention comlpetely destructive to our identity.
The codependency is so unhealthy that it can leave a path of destruction that may never be fully restored.
The Effects of Betrayal - Long After They're Gone
"Your servants were twelve brothers, the sons of one man...The youngest is now with our father, and one is no more." Genesis 42:13
While Joseph was a slave, wrongfully accused, rotting in jail, forgotten and abandoned, then ultimately elevated and honored, his family had gone on without him. Yet all the while, he grieved the life and family he once knew. His father mourned, but the family went on. I'm sure there were moments of guilt, thoughts of remorse and maybe they even wondered whatever happened to Joseph... But as they so bluntly stated, his presence and place in their lives was "no more."
With intentional disdain they rid themselves of their brother. He was gone from their lives, maybe without a second thought, but now their oblivion to his life and circumstances was all the more reason Joseph was betrayed.
If you've experienced the pain of betrayal, you understand the lasting effects long after the person is gone. You're left picking up the pieces they shattered while they seemingly have moved on with no hint of remorse or shame for the havoc they've caused. The intentional act of betrayal creates an even deeper wound while you desparately try to rebuild. No longer do you seek what you need because it's no longer an option.
The Aftermath of Betrayal - A Victim's Response
"When Joseph came home, they presented to him the gifts they had brought into the house, and they bowed down before him to the ground." Genesis 43:26
No doubt, the brothers' act of worship could have given Joseph the sense of satisfaction he needed to repay the pain of betrayal he felt. But he wasn't interested in payment or revenge. Instead he offered reunion and reconciliation.
"After he had washed his face, he came out and, controlling himself, said, "Serve the food." Genesis 43:31
The pain is real and will take a long time to recover from. The act of trusting again may be even more difficult. But there is freedom in realizing that you don't seek or require what others can give you. Instead of giving someone else this power and position over you, you get everything you need from God. In turn, you are empowered to give.This becomes your motivation instead of what you seek to gain. When we look to Him for what we need emotionally, we can experience victory walking away from someone knowing we don't need anything from them.
The Lesson of Betrayal - Finding Healing
"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." Genesis 50:20
Are you the victim of betrayal? You can rest assured long after the culprit has disappeared and moved on, when you've become nothing more than a distant memory, if you've been wiped out and remain "no more," when the reality you once knew becomes your worst nightmare, when your world has been shattered by the depth of deception, God can turn the deep wound of betrayal into an altered plan that He will use for your good and His glory.