QUESTION: I have a very good friend, or at least I thought this person was a good friend, who betrayed a confidence. What I told my friend was very sensitive and I didn’t want anyone else to know. We both attend the same church and volunteer in several organizations together. I admit I’m very angry and am thinking about letting go of the “friendship.”
I know about forgiveness, but this is causing me great emotional anguish. Your guidance is appreciated.
I know it can be very painful when someone betrays us. Sharing something in confidence assumes trust and faith that your “secret” will be guarded and protected. We expect our friends to honor these confidences and be loyal to us, especially someone we considered a very good friend.
You mentioned you know about forgiveness but it’s causing you great emotional anguish. Have you spoken to your friend about how he/she has hurt you? It’s important to be honest about your feelings and how his/her behavior caused you so much pain. Forgiveness isn’t about condoning behavior, it’s about letting go of the pain and betrayal you’re holding.
Cherie-Carter Scott, author of “If Life is a Game, These Are the Rules,” said, “Anger makes you smaller, while forgiveness forces you to grow beyond what you were.” When we move into forgiveness we open ourselves up to seeing beyond the pain and past the hurt. Your friendship is so much more than just one misjudgment or betrayal. I would suggest you consider all the things you’re grateful for about this friend and find it in your heart to forgive them for this transgression. Moving forward you decide whether you want to keep the friendship but do it from a place of strength and not anger. You will be guided to the highest and best decision.
’Tis the season for peace, love and understanding!
With gratitude & grace,
Rev. Ellen Faith
I can understand the anger and the shame you must feel over the betrayal of a confidence broken. I can also understand your desire for some kind of healing in light of what you have shared and sadly experienced. All anger is born out of fear, and your fear was realized. The question is now what to do.
It depends on your choice and I know you wish to make the best one to restore your peace of mind. Your choices are these: you may try and keep this friend or, as you suggest, let them go.
There are two approaches to healing this. One is practical and the other is spiritual. I would encourage you to pursue both. The practical choice is to talk it out with him/her as calmly as you can, and let him/her know, and be accountable for, the hurt, pain and embarrassment he/she has caused you. If he/she brushes you off, you can walk away. Lesson learned. He/she was not worthy of you. Hopefully, he/she will seek to explain themself, regret the error, ask your pardon, and make some amends. If that is done, it is your choice if you wish to continue being friends and even to what degree of intimacy and trust you might have going forward. In other words, you would have some relationship re-building ahead. Any friendship is about two imperfect people trying to have a perfect relationship. No one gets through life without screwing up. It is part of the human experience, and forgiveness should be at the ready.
Forgiveness does not necessarily mean a restoration to what once was with another person with all forgotten. It may be the case he/she is not capable at this point in your life to be the kind of trusting friend you need. That is for you to weigh and decide. Forgiveness is sometimes not so much about the other as about our self, restoring the balance in our own soul, and restoring the peace to our own life.
It is a willingness to let go of, or detach from, the hurt in the realization that all of us are not perfect.
We are all trying to do the best we can, the best we know how, with a limited and less than perfect understanding of all of our options or even knowing much less how to choose the correct options. In short, forgiveness may be nothing more than deciding not to condemn your friend for his/her imperfection and not to condemn yourself for what you realized was an error on your part of confiding in him/her.
Mistakes were made and mistakes happen. So what now?
This brings us to the second part: the spiritual healing, the re-grounding of ourselves so to speak. This begins by speaking the word of peace and forgiveness using affirmative prayer. Our word is always a word of power. We can hurt or heal. Our words open the doors to either one. Let us choose the healing word, the word of blessing and peace for ourselves and the other. Whenever you feel challenged by anger over this situation, say this prayer to yourself. It will work wonders in bringing the right solution for you: “I am thankful for the perfect healing of this situation and to know it is blessed with perfect understanding, resolution and forgiveness that also honors and respects the rights and feelings of all involved. And, to know that this Divine resolution is perfectly crafted and guided by an all pervading conscious Divine Mind in Divine Right Action resulting in a perfect peace of mind and goodwill for all.”
Religious Science Practitioner
QUESTION: I often hear the phrase “Keep the faith” but it hasn’t been that easy for me because I’ve had several things happen that have literally shaken my faith. First, my father had a heart attack and died. He was only 65 with no previous history of heart problems. Then my husband was in a serious car accident that prevented him from working for six months. The “proverbial straw” that shook me to the core was when our daughter was diagnosed with leukemia.
I have to say I’m grateful for the help we’ve received along the way but inside I’m really angry. My prayer is to return to a faith-filled life. What can I do to restore my faith?
~ Feeling Helpless
Dear Feeling Helpless,
My heart goes out to you and the grief you must be feeling on so many levels. I’m not sure I wouldn’t be similarly challenged with shaken faith. The unfortunate truth is that most people don’t know how to respond to the grief of a friend or loved one, much less where to lend support. I’m glad that you’ve felt support along the way but my guess is that you’re feeling pretty alone in this, trying to make sense of the feelings and emotions that are bombarding your mind and heart. There really aren’t any rules either. By that I mean we’re not adequately prepared for the grieving process and all the many conflicting mental “hoops” we try to jump through. Grief can revolve around anything from death or job loss or divorce or severe illness, several of which you have experienced in what sounds like a short period of time. Here are a few thoughts I can offer you about the process.
Ecclesiastes 3 helps us understand that: “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.” NKJV v.1. The text goes on to talk about how God has “made everything beautiful in its time” NKJV v. 11a, which gives us a broader perspective, a divine viewpoint if you will, of timing that is otherworldly in the reality of the Omnipresent One. Our understanding of the heavenly perspective is limited by our own humanness, handicapping our ability to separate ourselves and our pain and anger from the larger truth that nothing escapes the Father.
I won’t presume to suggest how you should or shouldn’t feel, only that you have a right to experience the fullness of the emotion and be present with the reality of your losses.
When you feel angry, express that anger to the Lord and allow Him to minister to your heart. Practically speaking, it’s healthy to look for ways to walk out the pain and anger. Perhaps you can begin a mindfulness practice or a breathing meditation of Scripture. Writing is often a great way to release the angst we feel inside and can take the form of storytelling through a narrative of events, poetry writing or journaling. Physical activities are also beneficial as they temporarily distract us while providing much-needed endorphins that help soothe and calm us. The same can be said for adjusting our diet to more wholesome healing food choices.
When we begin to take better care of our overall wellness needs we create a space for God to enter and minister to our hurting hearts and spirits. We are encouraged to invite Him to help us make sense of it all. He has created us to be both malleable and steadfast, flexible in the ways we accept His love and guidance.
“Hear my prayer, O Lord, Give ear to my supplications! In Your faithfulness answer me, and in Your righteousness.” Psalm 143:1 (NKJV). Unwavering in the knowledge that He remains at our side during the storms of life.
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4 (NKJV).
Above all, please don’t give up on yourself or God. He loves you and will continue to love you through all your storms. James 4:1 reminds us to “draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” Be open to the possibilities of healing and the renewing of your faith. Merely open your heart to the sincere desire of the Father to have you rest in His love.
Praying for your healing to be swift and complete, for your daughter’s and your husband’s recovery, and that you will have divine encounters to strengthen your faith!
Be well & be blessed!
Dear Feeling Helpless,
First, thank you for your vulnerability – often we are taught to “put on a happy face” and try to find joy in the midst of our sorrow. You have much to grieve! And inherent in our grief is anger. You have lost people you cherish, you have lost stability, you have lost the hopeful future of your child and the ease you long for her to have while she is young. Any one of these experiences would justify your anger.
My encouragement to you: direct your anger toward the God of your faith. Tell God how wrong all of this is. In doing so, you join a long history of people who have expressed their lament and frustration to God. Even Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have your forsaken me!” Implicit in our cries to God is the faith that God is the one who has the power to respond and to right these wrongs.
I believe that God, especially in Jesus Christ, is close to us when we grieve. He wept with his friends when their brother died. Their anger did not nullify their faith (they asked, “Where were you? You could have saved him.”). Instead, this vulnerability drew them closer to God.
During the Christmas season, we proclaim Jesus as Emmanuel, God-with-us. Particularly God with the humble and hurting, the skeptic and cynic. Those who long to believe but have compelling doubt. One does not cancel out the other. Your gratitude for the help you have received does not have to empty your anger, nor does your anger have to rid you of gratitude.
So to restore your faith, my suggestion is to begin in prayer – honestly communicating with God. “Lord, I am grateful, and I am angry. Be with me in both.”
The act of directing our thoughts toward God, with hope that God is listening, is an act of faith. And it can be in this act that our faith is restored.
My hope is that you are surrounded by love during the holidays. And that, as you sing the songs and experience the traditions that have rooted you in faith, you will find moments of God’s presence with you, reminding you that God remains, forever, with you.
Pastor Kyle Sears