Facing Betrayal: Even Jesus, Why Not Us?
By Rae Lewis-Thornton
September 19, 2012
This piece originally appeared in Rae's blog, Diva Living With AIDS.
Betrayal is an absolute Motherfucker! I have nothing pretty or respectable to say about it. I don't care where or who the betrayal comes from, when it comes, it shatters a person's spirit. These last few weeks I've had to deal with betrayal in my own life and I can tell you for a fact, that shit has knocked me straight down to my health and wellness. I have been trying to make sense out of the senseless and that is madness at its best. Now be clear, I try my best to exit from madness as quickly as I can, so that it doesn't control me longer than the lie and betrayal has controlled me.
Coincidentally, yesterday I received a message from a woman who is going through some betrayal of her own. Some real shit when you lay in a bed with a man every night to learn you don't even know who they are. It's some real shit when you learn that the truth is a lie and everything is blurred, it's madness at its best. Emailing with her, I had to move beyond my own bias. I had to get out of myself to minister to someone else about the very thing that I'm facing: lies and betrayal. Boy, God has a sense of humor. For Real ... For Real ...
It's some serious shit when you learn that the person you thought you knew best, turns out to be someone that you don't know at all. One thing can question everything that you ever thought you knew about them. It changes the relationship immediately and that can never be recovered. You cannot go back, only forward. The thing is, a person has the right to make a bad decision for their life that effects you negatively.
Speaking of their sister, someone said in my Al-Anon Group the other day, "A person has a right to be crazy!" That was truth at it's best! At the same time, you have the right to make the best decision for yourself in the face of what others do. These are both facts! But trying to determine the best decision for you is a hard thing because you still have the memory of who that person was before you learned the lie. While there is some goodness in that person, you also have to remember that the goodness was also in the backdrop of the lie. No matter how hard you try, the lie lingers like a fowl smell.
As I connected to my IV drip this morning, I was thinking, "I wonder how Jesus felt about His own betrayal?" The Bible doesn't give us any hint at His emotion around the betrayal from both Peter and Judas, only how He felt about His imminent death (Matthew 26:20-56). He does however, give us a hint about betrayal. Jesus says, "Woe to the man who betrays the Son of Man" (Matthew 26:24b). One Bible commentary suggests that "Woe, introduces a prophetic oracle, of lament or condemnation." So, while Jesus tells us that betrayal is wrong, we have no glimpse of how or what Jesus feels about betrayal from the ones closest to Him.
As I reflect on the betrayal of Jesus, there are lessons for us. At first glance, the goodness is that the truth was revealed to both Jesus and the disciples. God wouldn't have it so that you would live in ignorance. Operating in clarity is the best of life; clarity of self and of others.
The problem with clarity for many of us is the unwillingness to accept the truths in the face of the lie. We lend toward the half truths in the lie rather than taking the wrong of lying at face value. A lie is a lie, no matter how many truths it's colored with. Even when God reveals that thing we don't take heed. Often times we dismiss it out of some need to be loved. When someone shows you who they are, BELIVE them! Don't explain it away and don't make excuses. Operate in the truth!
Other times, we even try to play God and save them from themselves. You must remember, you can forgive a person, but you don't have to play baby Jesus. Let them do the work that they must on themselves. You couldn't stop the betrayal or the lie, what makes you think you can change the person who did the lying? The fact of the matter is, you can't heal holding open the wound. You must move on so you can live your best life.
This leads to another valuable lesson, Jesus didn't allow the information of His betrayal deter Him from His purpose. He just kept right on moving. Jesus was clear, the betrayal was not greater then what He was called to do. Sometimes, we give people who hurt us too much power over us. We spend more time lamenting the hurt that we can't heal. We stay stuck allowing that person to continue to effect us negatively. You can't spend all your time trying to figure out why they are jacked up. Nor can you make their sickness about you. Now be clear, yes you must process and mourn this, but you cannot allow it to control your life the way the lie controlled your life. You can't control what they did, but you can control what you do next.
Now, trying to determine where that person fits into your life is the hard part. Yes, I believe in redemption. But redemption does not necessarily mean that you continue a relationship. That must be determined on its own merits; one day at a time. Only you can asses the damage that has been done and the repairs if any that can be made. While nothing is beyond forgiveness in my opinion, some things cannot be repaired. Each of us must work through this for ourselves. At the very core is the hard question, "Can I ever trust this person again?" If so, with what parts of my life can I trust them?" Just because you can trust them with a hello, don't mean you can trust them with, sit for a while -- and "sit a while" doesn't always mean "spend a night." All of this will take time, but for sure, you must make the best decision for the best of your well being.
The hardest part, is the love that you have for that person. How do you make the best decision for yourself, in spite of the fact it may not be what they want. At the end of the day, you cannot be bound by their desires only your well-being. They in turn must accept the consequences of the choices that they made which altered the relationship. They must be honest, not just with you, but with everyone involved. I'm not gonna make this about what the other person should do. I cannot play God with someone else's life. I can only control me and how I proceed. You must remember this as you process the betrayal.
As cold as it may sound, you must keep your well-being in the forefront. Let them work out their own shit; that's between them, God and the therapist. The biggest thing I have learned in Al-Anon is that you cannot control someone else's life. Each of us have the right to make decisions for ourselves, good, bad and ugly. FYI: The lie that you were living in with that person was a form of control. They altered your reality, without your permission. They took away your choice. NO person should ever have that much power over you.
For sure betrayal is a a part of life. It was even a part of the life of Jesus. The question you must ask is, "How do I move forward in the face of betrayal?" I don't have the easy answer, shoot, I don't have any answers for you.
But what I know for sure is this -- just like they had the right to make a decision about their life that ultimately impacted you negatively, you have the right to make the best decision for your life, even if it's not the outcome they want. I also know that you must find a way to heal. As long as you stay stuck, they continue to control your spirit. Don't you think that they have already had more control over you then they deserve?
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Rae Lewis-Thornton Speaks
Rae Lewis-Thornton is an Emmy Award-winning AIDS activist who rose to national acclaim when she told her story of living with AIDS in a cover story for Essence Magazine. She has lived with HIV for 27 years and AIDS for 19. Rae travels the country speaking and challenging stereotypes and myths about HIV/AIDS. She has a Master of Divinity degree and is currently working on her Ph.D. in Church History. Rae has been featured on Nightline, Dateline NBC, BET and The Oprah Winfrey Show, as well as in countless magazines and newspapers, including Emerge, Glamour, O, the Oprah Winfrey Magazine, Jet, Ebony, the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune, to name a few. She earned the coveted Emmy Award for a first-person series on living With AIDS for Chicago's CBS News.
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