Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Can you forgive a betrayer?

Have you ever experienced a betrayal by someone you loved and trusted?  
I have. 
It felt like an earthquake: the very ground beneath me shook. The betrayer was my husband and as I realized that for the previous six months we had lived an intimacy that was actually a lie, I  wept in anguished rage.

And yet...and yet...
Did I want to endlessly reside in a bitter web of anger? 

At the National Institute of Healthcare Research, Michael McCullough, PhD, developed a four-step program to help people move beyond betrayal.
Step 1: Think about times YOU have hurt others. Were you deliberately trying to hurt?
Step 2: Recall when you have been forgiven. How did you feel when you needed someone’s forgiveness?
Step 3: Visualize your aggressor’s state of mind. Explain the hurtful event from his/her perspective.
Step 4. Try and go beyond the event itself to feel the imperfect humanness of your betrayer.

As part of step 4, I began to pray each day the familiar 23rd Psalm: 
“The Lord is my shepherd.” 
Only I substituted plural pronouns, so it became 
“The Lord is OUR Shepherd, WE shall not want...” 
Praying the entire psalm this way over a period of time
helped me restore a sense of shared humanity with my betrayer.  
It helped bring into my heart an awareness that
WE-- both of us--dwell in the house of the Lord. And WE, both of us, 
are children of God. 
Forgiving a betrayer does not happen easily. It takes time. And a willing heart.
Not for the betrayer's sake but for our own.

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