Sunday, April 22, 2012


“Et tu, Brutus?” was uttered by Caesar as he took in the depths of his betrayal by his own nephew. The assassins attacked Julius Caesar so savagely, that they themselves were injured in the melee.

The scene in The Sound of Music comes to mind where the family is hiding in the cemetery and all the gestapo leave except for Ralph. The family starts to leave and you think he is not going to rat on them and then he does.

Lady Macbeth happily jumps on the bandwagon to kill the king and take the throne. She has no qualms about the betrayal because it will lead to power.

In King Lear Goneril and Regan’s betrayal of Lear raises them to power in Britain, where Edmund, who has betrayed both Edgar and Gloucester, joins them. However, the play suggests that betrayers inevitably turn on one another, showing how Goneril and Regan fall out when they both become attracted to Edmund, and how their jealousies of one another ultimately lead to mutual destruction. Additionally, it is important to remember that the entire play is set in motion by Lear’s blind, foolish betrayal of Cordelia’s love for him, which reinforces that at the heart of every betrayal lies a skewed set of values.

William Shakespeare must have had some personal experience with betrayal. So many of his plays revolve around a betrayal theme.

It’s hard when friends and family betray each other.

As I’ve contemplated the results of betrayal on relationships, health and well being, and society in the past couple of days, I am also reminded of Judas’ betrayal of Christ. This infamous member of the Twelve Apostles betrayed his friend for money alone – thirty pieces of silver.

Betrayal happens when someone close to you (or you, for that matter) decides to throw you under a bus, in a manner of speaking, to achieve something they want for themselves. They don’t mind hurting you to get what they want. It happens often in this broken age. When Jesus told us that there was no greater love than one laying down his life for another, he meant my own!

Personally, I am struggling with my feelings when it comes to those who steal-behind-my-back-but-not-really-because-I-know-you’re-stealing. I find it hard to trust people. Between people who arrange for me to teach a student with the promise of payment that never comes (yet in loo of payment is willing to trash a reputation causing a lack of future students all the while taking advantage of free lessons), betrayal of values and faith, hiding and lies of indiscretions, the loss of confidences, I’ve come to the conclusion that very few people are trust worth (I guess, even me).

Most of the time, we are blindsided when a friend or someone we love betrays us because we don’t see it coming. That’s what makes it betrayal. That’s what makes it sting.

I struggle with this. Is the lesson to be learned to keep my mouth shut? Is the lesson to keep moving with my head down low?

Forgiveness is a unilateral process where we can truly take our foot off the throat of those we consider to have wronged us. Forgiveness does not exonerate the betrayer; it frees the victim from the ongoing pain of the other’s actions and opens the opportunity for us to find healing inside and the freedom to move on with what God has for us. But forgiveness is not just a choice of the will; it is a process where we bring out hurt and pain to the Savior and he works us through them to a place of true release and forgiveness. It may take a few months or even years, the trick is to not stop short of it being complete; to keep discussing it with Jesus as he untangles your hurt and leads you into a real forgiveness of others.

A part of betrayal I often over look is my limited field of vision. I have not walked in everyone’s shoes. I don’t always have all the information. I do not comprehend the big picture.

After the initial “letting go” process comes reconciliation. Reconciliation is a bi-lateral process that can only happen when both parties are ready to sit down and honestly explore each other’s story with a spirit of compassion and humility. It cannot be forced and can only happen when all parties truly value the relationship over anything else. It recognizes that the most important thing Jesus asked of us is to love each other as we are loved by him.

Reconciliation, too, is a work of the Spirit to prepare each heart to truly listen to each other’s story, laying aside our own assumptions and judgments, admitting our mistakes, caring about each other’s pain, and resolving any outstanding issues by God’s grace and mercy. Reconciliation heals the relationship and allows a friendship to grow onward.

I struggle with this too. I guess that means I am still human. It’s that letting go thing. Everyone I know is like this. LOL. At least I am not alone. I think it comes down to trust.

Neither forgiveness or reconciliation requires us to trust the one who betrayed us. It allows us to love them again, but trust, once violated, can only be won back by the demonstration over time that the person values the relationship above his or her own self-interest. We are never told to trust someone beyond our conviction that they will lay down their lives for us in moments of conflict.

I think I understand this, at the same time, I wonder.

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