Hope after Betrayal
It may have been my biggest betrayal. We had been fast friends, with too many connection points to count. Our lives overlapped in so many ways, and we were passionate about being moms, and growing in God and having fun in our journey. And then one day I was uninvited. Literally uninvited to something we had always done together. Uninvited to share in the pain, the wrestling, the journey. She said we could still be friends and yet the betrayal had broken my trust and exposed every crack in our relationship that had existed for years.
I cried for days. I felt desperate. I kept envisioning myself groveling and pleading for her to take me back. The emotional pain felt more severe than any breakup with a boyfriend I’d ever experienced. She’d promised we’d be friends until we were old ladies. She’d promised grace and forgiveness in the potential event of an unforeseen fight between us. And yet when I was uninvited I was the one who couldn’t extend the trust.
As we hobbled though the unknown territory of the next few months we both made effort. Effort to say a quick hello when we ran into each other and even meet for an occasional coffee to unpack some of the details of what went wrong. How did our friendship fail? How had we grown apart? What did forgiveness look like without a desire to rebuild?
If I’m honest my expectation has been that if I’m a good friend we will be friends forever. If I do all the right things... if I’m caring and generous, if I initiate getting together and am genuinely interested in who they are. If I pray for them, serve them, am vulnerable with them, then I won’t be rejected. When I’m honest it becomes really clear that my expectations in friendship are conditional. If I do this then they should do that. They should love me back. They should like me. They should respect me. They should value my friendship. They should want to be my friend forever. But what if I fail? What if I have nothing to give? What if I did nothing wrong, and simply our life stages changed, and our paths no longer crossed with ease? What if we grew into different people?
One of the hardest things about this betrayal is that it rattled my hope in friendships. It challenged my expectation that I could have friendships that could last a lifetime. I figured everyone else knew how to have longterm sustainable relationships, but I however had missed that secret. I was rejected. I wasn’t worthy. I wasn’t capable. What saved me during this season was the people God placed in my life who could counteract these lies with truth. People who were willing to speak hope and value into what I saw as broken. People who dispelled the myth that everyone else has life and friendship figured out. Slowly I was able to see the ways that I too had contributed to our demise. Our friendship was a sweet gift for a season, but I would not have been able to grow in the same ways without the fracture that occurred.
So how do we hold the hope and desire for what is good and could be in relationships, friendship and community while also holding the reality that people will fail us, betray us, and maybe only pass through our lives for a short season? One of the phrases that we use regularly in our family is “hold it loosely.” If we really trust that God is for us (Psalm 56:9), and working in all things (Romans 8:28), then can we trust Him? Can we loosen our grip and trust that God has good plans for us (Jer 29:11)? Lately I’ve been reminded of all the places is the bible where God promises to satisfy our desires. God’s aim is not to disappoint us, but to move us into a position where despite the sadness, rejection and betrayal that we still live in hope. So I continue to work on loosening my grip and opening my hands to what God has next.
"We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” Romans 5:3-5 NLT