The Side-Effects of Betrayal

People take a toll on me sometimes. Relationships are exhausting. Life becomes too heavy a burden to bare, and I want to give up and revert back to my old ways of living that were so much simpler. I long for a world where I can be my complete, unfiltered, uninhibited self. Where I could be free of the chains of caring about what people might think or feel about what I might do or say. 

People are flawed, complicated creatures. Human beings will always revert to their instincts of self preservation in almost every instance when it comes down to it. The thing is, there have been people who have come into my life in the last few years that I genuinely believe would NOT throw me under the bus under any circumstances. Yet, I still struggle to believe there’s security, even in those friendships, regardless of the fact that they haven’t let me down. I know I certainly wouldn’t do that to them. But it seems that people find it particularly easy to tear me down, bash me to others, lie to me or about me, or hate me, without ever giving me a chance or letting me defend myself. Its quite interesting really. 

 

I’ve thought numerous times in my life that, though I’ve served in ministries for a lot of my life, ultimately I don’t want to do ministry full time for this very reason. I feel that by being in the business of relationships, I run the risk of hating people. This risk exists because people are flawed. People are always going to let you down. There are very few people in this world that I whole-heartedly trust, everyone else I take everything with a grain of salt. 

Our culture promotes behaviors that help ourselves. We are encouraging each other to act selfishly, even within the context of community. I’ve been reminded even more so lately of this ever apparent fact, leaving me wishing I could go back to being that cynical, self-absorbed, pessimistic, unfriendly guy who trusts no one but himself. But I’ve already thrown myself out there, so now what? 

How do we handle the effects of betrayal? How are we supposed to cope with the reality that our closest friends could quite easily become our worst enemies in the blink of an eye? Jesus says we are to love our enemies. I wonder if this kind of thing was what he was talking about. One of my favorite songs of all time is a song by Noah Gundersen called “Jesus,Jesus.” In this song he sings “and I know You said ‘forgive them, for they know not what they do,’ but sometimes I think they do.” What an interesting statement. I think there are plenty of instances where people have no idea what the implications may be to what they are doing or saying, but sometimes…sometimes they do. Sometimes they know exactly what they are doing. 

 

People are most often willing to do something as long as it benefits them. People will say things to appear intelligent, or like they know everything about someone or something. People have all kinds of reasons why they do or say things that aren’t true, but one thing remains true…Everybody lies. We all do it. We all have this predisposition to do what is wrong, and run from what is right. Those of us who stand up for what is right are the individuals worth knowing. This one attribute can set those of us apart from the rest. If we live our lives in the light of what is right, rather than letting ourselves be overcome by the darkness of sin, we open ourselves up to the potential of having great influence over the trajectory of our pathetic generation. 

So maybe we can try to rise above our shallow, selfish, insensitive, rude, immature actions, or maybe we won’t. But I know I will always prefer someone just come talk to me if they have a problem with me. I promise you I will do the same. I’m entirely too straightforward not to. The part that makes such an act a “betrayal” is not the part where someone says something about me behind my back, but rather that they were too cowardly to say it to my face. 

You can hate me, despise me, hold absolutely no respect for me, and I honestly don’t really care that much. But at least have the decency to say it to my face instead of telling everyone else about it. Do you really think it makes you look intelligent or full of integrity to tell someone else about your opinions (based on assumptions) of someone? No. It makes you a coward, not worthy of respect. 

 

The worst kind of betrayal is one by a close friend. Someone you thought you could trust and depend on to have your back. This has happened so many times in my life. So many times, in fact, that I’m actually hesitant to fully trust anyone now. Sadly, I am proved that this danger is still very much evident in my life quite often. Its really sad because whether the situation gets resolved or not, I am never going to trust that person ever again. Its almost better for me to just “wash my hands” of the situation and move on. It’s better than keeping someone around that you can’t trust, right? It’s hard to say… 

 

I suspect this problem will only get worse, seeing as our ability to maintain healthy relationships continues to decline, and our definition of right and wrong continues to digress to what is best for “me”, but I fight for hope. I long to see good in people, and give them the benefit of the doubt. I want to be someone with integrity and courage in those harder situations. I hope that one day we can get over ourselves and learn to love.

Alas, that day has yet to come. 

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