15 – The Hazards of Love, part 2
There’s nothing like love—nothing so wonderful, and nothing so potentially hurtful. What do you do when the reality of love isn’t even close to the dream of it? Join us for today’s podcast—a follow-up on last week’s podcast—as we explore the cause, struggle, and solutions for the third, and most difficult, hazard of love.
Hazards of love, Unhealed Wounds
We long for love, we search for love, we anticipate the presence of love in our lives in a romantic relationship. And then often times, when it happens, it may be great at the beginning or it may not be great at the beginning. It may be that the reality of love is just so much more difficult than what we had hoped it would be.
So what do you do when the one that you love, the one to whom you’ve given your heart, the one that you trust with all of who you are, has hurt you or betrayed you?
In Webster, it defines betray as to hurt someone. That someone who trusts you such as a friend or a relative hurts you by not giving help or by doing something morally wrong. For us, betrayal is when somebody takes that trust that we’ve put in them, our hearts, and they do something so opposite of what real love is that we can only look at them and wonder how we ever loved them to begin with. So when betrayal comes into play in our romantic relationships, when betrayal becomes a part of love and living the love relationship, it can be extremely difficult to recover from that. To be able to move back into that same relationship–the one that caused you hurt–and feel as though anything can heal it, anything can bring you back to a place of trust.
How do you heal from betrayal or how do you even start?
Obviously in a 15-20 minute podcast, there’s no way we’re going to unearth the way to heal from these things, but there are a few tips that we can give you if you’ve been hurt, if you have the sense that you’ve been betrayed, or if it’s very clear that the person who loves you, and that you love, has betrayed you. There are some things that you can do to prepare your heart and mind to move into healing and forgiveness and restoration.
One of those things is realize that restoration takes time.
Healing takes time. It’s a process. It’s not a one and done. It’s not like you can sit there and say, okay, I forgive you and then everything’s good and then you move on. Even if in your heart you purpose to forgive, even if you make the conscious decision to forgive and to move forward, that hurt is buried deep in your heart. Often times, it’ll just pop up when you least expect it. And when that happens, when it pops up, it can seem as devastating as the first moment you were hit with that betrayal. It’s so easy to want to punish back.
This leads us to another step in how to heal from it: Resisting the urge to punish.
Its tempting to make the other person suffer because you suffered, or to do little things to let him know he screwed up. But that only drags out the process of us moving on.
Another aspect of punishing is that you withhold. You withhold your trust, you withhold relationship. You withhold even the small actions of forgiveness or relationship. You withhold yourself from being a part of their life again. We’re not trying to say there aren’t consequences when someone betrays us, because there are. There is a difference though between the kind of natural consequence and us deliberately making them pay as retribution and deliberately withholding. Sometimes maybe we can’t help it, and that part is what takes time. But we can’t make that deliberate choice to withhold or to cause them to suffer.
How do you avoid making that choice every time those emotions come up?
You take a stand in your heart and mind. You take a stand and you tell those all too human, all too normal emotions that emotions are not a good basis for truth. You can feel the freedom to go through them, and to feel them, but then let them go. The only one who can come in and work that healing, and who will help the other person to see what he needs to repent of, what things need to change, is God. You are not the Holy Spirit in your loved one’s life and that’s hard to recognize. You have to take a stand in your heart and mind every time, and rather than choosing the desire to make them suffer and to pay a price, you choose that this is someone you are going to trust. Again, it’s a process. It’s consistently making the choice to move forward.
How do you trust again?
The answer is the same every time you are hurt, or you hurt someone else. Surrender to God. Take what you think are your rights, what you think the other person should be, everything you think is owed to you, and put it on the altar. Acknowledge the fact that what we deserve, in light of God’s righteousness, there’s no comparison.
We have to recognize that and take all those things that we think are our rights and that we deserve, and just put them on that altar, and say, God, they’re all yours. Show me what to do in this moment. Put your focus on God, on your relationship with Him. Take it off of the one who betrayed you. Take it off the emotions. Again, I’m not saying don’t feel those emotions. When those emotions come and they seem overwhelming, put them on the altar of surrendering to God. He will answer. He will work within you. That means we need to let those go. In the process of forgiveness we also have to let go of what the other person did. We have to forgive that. We sometimes have to do that over and over again, every time we feel those emotions. Consider this scripture:
“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake and remembers your sins no more.”
God gives us His ability to remember our sins no more, to forget. That’s Gods character and God wants us to be imitators of that. If God is going to do that for us, we can do no less than remember somebody else’s sins no more.
Another step is to recognize we aren’t just the betrayed, but we too are betrayers of others, and of the source of love.
We learn through being betrayed ourselves that we too betray others. And we betray Christ. We don’t, and we can’t, be perfect in our relationship with Him. But it’s a fact we will fail, and we will at times betray what we say we believe in following Christ. If we betray, we are in the same category as anyone else, as the person who has betrayed us. There is no gradation of sin. Sin is sin. Sin is a broken relationship with God, whether we see the sins as little or big. God categorizes it all as what contributes to breaking relationship with Him.
We need to recognize that yes, it’s bad when a human betrays us, but we have all at some point betrayed God. We’ve thrown His love and His forgiveness back in His face and we’ve lived in unforgiveness, and in anger, and in bitterness, and we’ve let those things eat away at us.
Realize again what a long process this can be. We have to stay in for the long haul. We can’t have a timeline for this. There are things for us to learn in the long haul. As much as we are needing to feel God’s grace, it’s still about us learning to extend grace. It’s another part of God’s character that He wants us to reflect. It’s part of the long process of understanding love. Not the romantic idea of love. True love, the love that God shows to us is kind, patient, doesn’t hold onto wrongs, it moves into working toward the other person’s good, not just our own good.
It’s hard to embrace that. Love is choices. Love is the decisions we make every day. When people are writing, I hope that’s what they put in there. We all know that for the romance genre, there is an expectation of a happy ending, but that doesn’t mean that there can’t be these issues along the way that we can portray authentically and realistically. If you get to the end of your love story, and have done what God has called you to, then you can know there will be a sense of satisfaction, and that the love that you have for each other has been hard fought and hard won, and one that you can be proud of.
What about the reality that some betrayers do continue to betray?
There is no limit to the grace that God extends to us, though we betray Him over and over again. No we are not God, but here’s what I’ve learned. The reality is, we still deal with issues in relationships because we all are human and broken, and we are each dealing with our own needs and our own expectations. All of that comes into play. The whole relationship of love is not an easy relationship.
Look at the truest representation of love in scripture and that’s the book of Hosea where God has the prophet marry an unfaithful woman! She is a prostitute and returns to prostitution. And every time, God says restore her, go bring her back. It’s not because she deserves it, it’s not because she’s worthy of it. It’s simply because God loves.
He created us because He loves us. There is no end to what God can enable you to do in a relationship. Now understand, I’m talking about the emotional issues of feeling betrayed by the one that you trust. If there is physical danger in the situation, get out. But in my situation, I realized, first, that I would never reach the end of what God enabled me to do and, second, I made a vow before God, and there’s only one who can release me from that vow and that’s God.
What about the betrayers who continue to betray?
There’s only one with the answer to that, and that’s God. It’s seeking Him every time. Laying your rights, and what you think you deserve, on the altar and saying show me what you want me to do. I know there are people that God has made it very clear that they are to remove themselves from the situation. My situation wasn’t like that. My answer has been, “As long as I have loved you, you will continue in love for him.”
When talking about all of these hazards, they all have one thing in common. We are dealing with human beings.
Sinful, imperfect people who will always at one point or another, disappoint us. The bottom line? There is no relationship here that can compare to the relationship we have with God. The fact that the love we share together as humans isn’t all that the relationship with God is the consequence of our fallen nature. We cannot love purely this side of eternity. Our relationships can be very good, and they are an example of our relationship with God, but they will never compare to the purity of the love that we know in Him.
One of the most helpful things in dealing with all of this is to come to a real understanding about God’s love for us.
“I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit. Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. May you know the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”
Only when we understood the amazing deep, high, long, wide love of Christ, can we be all God created us to be.
We can’t understand that without Gods spirit in us. But that’s how we love. That’s how we turn into what God wants us to be. It’s all about understanding His incredible, vast, unsearchable, unimaginable love for us. And then asking Him, and His Spirit, to show that love through us to those with whom we’re in a relationship. Even those who have hurt us and betrayed us. To become, in essence, Christ to them and to love them regardless of how they’ve hurt us.
It’s very difficult, and it’s not an easy place to be. We live in a society that looks on marriage as something disposable. If it doesn’t work out, just toss it and we can go find somebody new to love. But the problem is, what society is teaching us about is not love. Society is teaching us about self-gratification. Teaching us about things that are temporal, that will not last, will not sustain. But when you submit yourself to God, even in the midst of great, deep hurt, and beg Him to empower you with inner strength through His spirit, that’s an amazing thing when He responds.
We can’t love others, not real love, not true love, until we do it out of an abundance of God’s love for us. Out of an abundance of seeking God’s love. Seeking to let Him make His home in our hearts and spirits. So as we bid farewell to February, the month of valentines and hearts and cupids and all that stuff, I want to make a decision, and I’m asking you to make a decision, to also say goodbye to those things in your heart and your spirit that have taken root and hinder you in the knowledge of God’s love for you, and the knowledge of God’s love for those with whom you are in a relationship. Let go of your expectations. Instead, open your hearts to God’s longing for, and His love of you. Make it your goal to know the love of Christ as much as humanly possible. Open yourself up to that, because I’m telling you, it will change everything. Rest in that love. Savor that love. Write about that love. Put it on the page, whether it’s fiction, nonfiction, it doesn’t matter. Let that be the love you express in whatever your message is, because we all need to know it better.
We want to hear from you!
Tell us about God’s love for you. Seriously. You need to know it’s true, so write it here for the whole wide world. What helps you feel/hear/see/know that God loves you?