You’re shocked. Livid. Devastated.
When a friend betrays you–takes something or someone precious to you, lies to you or about you, or rejects you without cause–you can become completely disoriented. Someone you loved and trusted has become your worst enemy. What should you do?
Stop asking why. Why would she do this? That’s what you want to know. It makes no sense. So you try to think about her past, her insecurities, and stress she may be under. But the answers you try to cobble together do not comfort you. She was jealous. She was duped. She didn’t realize how much it would hurt you. But it still hurts. The why question will just prolong your pain.
Stop blaming yourself. If you know you did something to provoke the betrayal, you’re not likely to be devastated. If you don’t know what you did to provoke it, you may wonder if you didn’t pay her enough attention, didn’t encourage her enough, or if you talked too much. Believing you are responsible can give you a false feeling of control. You think you can prevent this from happening again. The truth is, if you had done something unknowingly to offend your friend, it was her responsibility to tell you and not to take revenge. Blaming yourself just adds insult to injury.
Stop imagining your revenge. If only you had said just the right words when you discovered the betrayal. You could tell everyone she knows about it. Then she’d be sorry. You could do something–anything!– to make her regret what she has done. But like asking why and blaming yourself, imagining your revenge just makes you feel worse. You’re not a mean-spirited person. Don’t let your friend’s sin cause you to stumble.
Start praying. You have other friends who will react to the news of your friend’s betrayal the same way you did — with disbelief. But Proverbs 18:24 reassures us:
One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Jesus will understand and will comfort you when nothing and no one else will. Cry out to the Lord with your heartache and ask Him to heal you.
Start meditating on Scripture. The Bible is not a dictionary–just a book of information. It is medicine for the soul. In the pages of Scripture we learn that Jesus knows the heartbreak of betrayal, too:
After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” John 13:21
Reading Scriptures that concern betrayal will help you know that you’re not alone. Meditating on verses that affirm God’s faithful love can bring healing.
Start loving. It’s natural to want to protect yourself from being hurt again. But refusing to give and receive love is the most hurtful. You can become bitter and depressed, leading people who would normally love you to keep their distance. The love that is lavished on us by our Savior can and should provoke us to love others:
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8
Don’t deprive yourself and others of the joy of friendship because of one person.
These steps will lead you to peace, healing, and even forgiveness in time.
Do you have other suggestions for those coping with betrayal?
What is it about the holidays that makes us want to be close to family? Close enough to beat them over the head with a turkey drumstick anyway.
I would argue it’s the food.
The Food Fight History is a Long One
All our problems began with food.
We were cursed after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, yes. But more salient to this discussion, the first marital spat then ensued over who caused whom to blow their specific-fruit-free diet.
One brother stabbed the other in the back when the Father liked the food he brought to the table better.
The Israelites complained about nothing more than the lack of food variety in the desert.
And early Christians bickered over what foods were okay with God to eat.
The Food Fights Continue
Today, everyone seems to have their own diet: organic, vegan, raw, allergy-free, clean, low-carb, low fat, sugar-free, two-year-old (only what you don’t want me to eat) and my dad’s favorite–seefood (you eat only what you can see).
While it can be annoying to accommodate all these preferences and necessary restrictions, the friction we have about food in our families isn’t really about the food.
But you just said it WAS about the food.
I know. Irritating. If I were your family member, I’d give you plenty of reasons to come after me with that drumstick.
It’s NOT about the food, but we act as though it is. Why?
- It’s easier to gossip about Aunt Ginny bringing one can of corn to the feast than it is to admit she’s disconnected from the family, much less to wonder why.
- It’s easier for your sister-in-law to complain about your cooking than it is to admit she’s incredibly jealous of you.
- It’s easier to complain about the food being cold than it is to talk to your brother about showing up late for every gathering.
Food becomes a displacement for hurts and hostilities that are too threatening to admit or deal with. Remember that next time someone asks you to stab them a potato.
Stuffing: the Ultimate Food Fight
There may be no food more subject to personal preference than stuffing. You love it, you hate it. You make it from a box or from scratch. You have regular, cornbread, or gluten-free. You put in giblets, sausage, cranberries, or none of the above. You drench it in gravy or you don’t.
And most people think their stuffing (even if that’s NO stuffing) is the best stuffing. Why?
Because stuffing represents the holidays and holidays represent family and deep down we’re all still little kids who believe my-dad-is-bigger-than-your-dad and my-mom-cooks-better-than-your-mom and we’re willing to get a black eye to prove it.
Don’t believe me?
How do you feel if I tell you that my mother’s stuffing recipe is hand’s down the BEST stuffing ever? As you scan down to check out the recipe, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that YOUR (family’s) recipe is better or that I’m stupid to even eat stuffing. Am I right?? Am I, huh?
My Mom’s Best Ever Stuffing
1 Box Turkey flavor Stove Stop Stuffing Mix
1 package hot dog buns, torn into 1/2 finger-length pieces and left out overnight
1/2 loaf of bread, torn into 1/2 finger-length pieces and left out overnight
4 stalks celery chopped fine
1/2 medium onion chopped fine
1 stick butter
2 large eggs
1 tsp sage
1 32-oz box chicken broth plus 2 14-oz cans chicken broth
Tear up bread and leave out overnight to dry. The next day, preheat oven to 350F. Grease or spray one oven-proof, deep casserole dish if you plan to stuff your turkey or two dishes if you don’t. Saute celery and onions in butter until almost transparent. Meanwhile, put Stove Top stuffing, sage, and eggs on top of stale bread. Add sauted onion and celery. Warm 32-oz chicken broth on medium heat and pour on top of bread and mix well. Add additional chicken broth until it’s soupy. You’ll think it’s too watery, but if you bake it without enough liquid, your stuffing will be dry. If you plan to stuff your turkey, first make sure the stuffing and turkey are the same temperature (both warm or both chilled). Bake stuffing for one hour, covering with foil the last 20 minutes.
Beyond Stuffing It: How to Avoid the Family Food Fights This Year
You can’t control whether a family member forgets the rolls, whether Uncle Dave has a few too many, or even if your mother-in-law makes a nasty face when she bites into your dish. But you can control YOU and that’s a lot.
- Don’t Confront at the Holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas are a little like weddings. Most people wouldn’t think of starting something with the bride before she walks down the aisle. Why? Because all her hopes and dreams are pinned on that day that she will remember forever. Your family has high hopes for happy holidays, too, and they are remembered like no ordinary days. Do you want everyone to remember the Christmas of 2012 as the one where you finally lost it and told the big mouth off and sent her running in tears to her car after having too much to drink in a snow storm… You get the idea. Save any necessary confrontations for a less emotional time.
- Keep Your Expectations Under Control. We’d be better off watching the beginning of A Christmas Carol than the end before a family holiday. Unfortunately, people aren’t on their best behavior at this time of year; they’re usually at their worst. They’re tired, stressed, strapped for cash, bombarded with the temptations of food and alcohol, and feeling pressured to eat someone else’s substandard stuffing (i.e., yours). Instead of envisioning a scene of peace and joy, imagine you’re walking into a room of toddlers who’ve gone without a nap. If you get out of there without raising your voice or hitting someone, you’re doing well.
- Avoid Resentment. 1 Corinthians 13 says that our good deeds are worthless without love. If you’re going to be bitter about hosting the holiday ONE MORE TIME or if it makes you crazy that your lovely homemade gifts aren’t appreciated, don’t do it. Avoid doing or giving anything that will make you resentful. Romans 12:18 says as much as possible, as far as it depends on you, to live at peace with everyone. Sometimes that requires avoiding someone. Keeping suggestion #1 in mind, either avoid seeing someone if it won’t create undue conflict or spend the majority of your time talking with people who don’t push your buttons.
- Create Your Own Holiday. Even if you’re single, you can plan a celebration to include the food, decorations, and mood of your choosing. Don’t limit yourself to a certain day either. Would you like to have a peaceful Thanksgiving meal with friends or with just your immediate family? Plan it for another time so you won’t mind as much if the family holiday itself isn’t all you hoped.
- Invite a Loving Family Member. Cain took it personally that God didn’t approve of his offering, but deep down Cain knew it was because he hadn’t brought what God asked. God absolutely loves your stuffing, even if that’s no stuffing at all. Invite Him to your holiday celebrations this year and you won’t even notice all the racket the relatives are raising. Spend extra time in prayer and worship, asking God to help you be on your best behavior. I know He will.
I plan to take my own advice this year, but I want to hear from you. What do you do to make family holidays less stressful? Please share in the comments.
I got out of bed feeling just as tired as I had been the night before. I wasn’t up more than a few hours before I headed back to bed for a nap.
I complained about my extreme fatigue that day to my friend in an email. She wrote back, “You know what that means. You’re pregnant.” I quickly wrote back that pregnancy wasn’t possible. I had a baby that I was nursing and I hadn’t returned to a normal cycle since I’d had him. Still, she got me thinking. My baby had been nursing less and less. I was so hungry all the time. Hm.
We were getting ready to go on vacation, so I had to make sure I wasn’t pregnant before we left. I bought a pregnancy test and was shocked to discover that it was positive. It was the first time I hadn’t planned a pregnancy.
It was a delightful surprise. Not long before the positive test, my husband had given me a valentine in which he said he’d like to have another baby. I’m sure he wasn’t expecting it so soon. When I gave my husband the news, he exclaimed, “I barely touched you!”
There are no coincidences
When we returned from a lovely family vacation, I had a doctor’s appointment to date the pregnancy as I had no idea how far along I was. When the technician gave me the due date, I was stunned. I cried happy tears all the way home from the clinic, because the date was December 28th, the due date for the baby I had miscarried.
Even though I had wanted to know the gender of our fourth child, I really wanted this baby’s gender to be a surprise–like the rest of the pregnancy. The morning of my 5th month ultrasound, I prayed that the gender would not be revealed to me. I had gotten quite good at reading gender on the screen.
Another answered prayer
The technician scanned and scanned and could not see the baby’s gender. She was extremely frustrated! She knew I had four boys at home and she was dying to know.
But no one knew until the day of her birth and the doctor announced, “It’s a girl!”
When I am tempted to believe that God doesn’t care about me, I remember the circumstances of my daughter’s birth and I know how great is His love for you and me.
Then young women will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow. – Jer. 31:13
My 16-year-old went off to school for the first time this month.
My neighbor who knew none of my children have ever gone to school outside our home asked me:
Was it hard?
I heard myself answering, but I was sitting across from my then 15-year-old son in a restaurant last spring when he said, “I’m thinking I might want to go high school next year.”
I watched him as he fidgeted and explained his reasons for wanting to finish his education outside of our home, but all I could really see was a two-year-old holding up letter-shaped puzzle pieces and asking, “What dat?” All I could hear was this little boy insisting, “Read, Mama. Read!” I could only see an older boy who read everything he got his hands on, including his Bible. I saw a teen who questioned absolutely everything. And back in the present, I saw a young adult seeking his mother’s approval for something he felt led to do.
As I continued to answer my neighbor’s question, I saw myself weeping alone. I saw myself talking and praying with my husband. I saw my conversation with my son in which I told him honestly, “I don’t want you to go to school!” And I heard him answer, “So why are you letting me go?” I felt the ache in my throat once again when I answered, “Because it’s not about what I want, but what’s best for you.”
I kept talking to my neighbor while I watched my boy heft his backpack on his shoulder and walk toward the bus stop, wondering if he would get picked up, if he would find all his classes, if he would have anyone to sit with at lunch, if he would miss me.
And I realized that answering my neighbor’s question was like answering whether natural labor is hard or grieving a loss is hard or parenting is hard.
I wondered why I had never thought to ask God that question.
Was it hard to send Your only Son away from home, knowing what He would suffer?
I suppose I haven’t asked because I already know the answer:
Love is hard.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
Have you ever had a hard time sending a child off to school? How can you encourage another woman who has sent her child out of the nest?
In Philippians 4:11, the Apostle Paul says:
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
I recently discovered that I haven’t learned that. Oh, I don’t pine away for material possessions, but that’s no credit to my character. I have everything I need and so much of what I want. Yet, I am not content. Here’s how I know:
- I feel like I never have enough time to accomplish all I want and need to do.
- I feel dissatisfied with the amount of success I have in many areas.
- I feel frustrated with people who don’t behave the way I would like them to.
- I feel disappointed by institutions, my country, and even my church.
In short, I haven’t learned to be content like Paul. Can you relate? Do you find yourself wanting more and being dissatisfied?
Having had times in my life in which I experienced true contentment, I can say unequivocally that I wouldn’t trade it for momentary joy. While I am sure we will know joy in heaven, contentment has got to reign supreme. Over the next several weeks, I’d like to explore what God would like to teach us about His contentment while we still live on earth. I will know that I am learning when:
- I am not stressed out and in a perpetual hurry
- I see everything I accomplish as progress toward His purposes
- I recognize that people are wretched sinners like me who are in the Lord’s hands; if we weren’t, we wouldn’t need a Savior
- I understand that God is in control of every institution, country, and church and I’m not
The sweet baby pictured above would not be content if he had fear. Fear is opposed to contentment. We’ll delve into that in the coming weeks, but for now, here is your assignment:
- Look for instances of discontentment in your life. One I’ve noticed is a habit of looking at my smart phone constantly.
- When you notice lack of contentment, ask yourself what if anything you’re afraid of? I sometimes look at my phone because I’m afraid of being left out of a conversation. Looking at my phone makes me appear to be a busy, important person.
Thinking of some of my difficulties as lack of contentment is helpful to me. For example, concern about how much blogging I do isn’t leading me to work harder as it would have, but now to be content with the time I have.
How about you? Do you struggle with discontentment?
I’m having a cranky day when I’m wondering why I bother to:
- Write what few people read
- Clean when it gets messed up again
- Buy things that are broken right away
- Be kind when I don’t get kindness in return
- Teach my kids when the lessons seem quickly forgotten
- Work toward my goals when almost no one cares what I do
I’m sick and tired, thus I am vulnerable. At these times, I hear the voice of my enemy saying, “Why bother?” He knows well how I depend on encouragement from others. When it isn’t there, he knows how to turn my funk into a fiasco. When he is done talking, I want to go back to bed and forsake writing, homemaking, kindness, parenting, and working forever.
But the same question that I asked myself I have to ask my enemy. Why bother? If I were an insignificant woman, why would you spend your time and energy trying to talk me into giving up? Jesus breaks into the discussion.
“Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” – Matthew 4:10
We bother because we are serving the Lord. He reads every word we write and He sees us cleaning, returning kindness for evil, teaching the resistant learner, and achieving His purposes for us. He likes it all.
So why do we bother listening to any voice but His?