Forgiveness of Betrayal by Kathleen McAnear Smith

Photo I took in Spain     Forgiveness of Betrayal     Have you ever sat around a table where you know someone has   already betrayed you? Someone was about to sell you out? It wasn't about the money, the thirty pieces of silver that deeply hurt. The betrayal was always about the broken, utterly smashed to pieces trust. have you ever had a meal with someone where trust was that broken? Have you ever just excused yourself from that table, deciding to never come back and share the wine, the bread? You just couldn't do it? Jill Southern Jones (whose story I wrote for Ellel Ministries) listened to my story of betrayal, betrayal in the church. She knew exactly which church it was, and the leaders. She had asked me to co-author a book on "Forgiving When They Just Aren't Sorry," and over a weekend of planning she wanted to hear what happened to me. As I shared the sorrow of losing a friend who believed a lie, a male leadership who knew nothing of how to deal with spiritual control within families, she gave me the gift of listening, and listening and listening. Then she said, "You need God to heal your heart." She prayed just that. We've begun to collect some stories. She is quite a teacher and I am a scribe. As I listened to her, and continue to listen and gather stories, I just stand in bewilderment. How can we as brothers and sisters who share the table of the King betray each other, slander each other, and just be so mean? Yes, Judas sat at the table we honoured this past Thursday and we see the pain right there. Long ago, David said it would have been bad enough, but oh my the person who treated him so badly was someone he used to walk with to the Temple. I know we talk about "Sunday morning coming," but that isn't this night. This past Thursday we remembered sharing food right in the moment, in the midst of an enemy. And the enemy that was mine had worshipped alongside me. We had passed that bread and wine to each other and had entered the sanctuary arm in arm.  I had to let the friendship go, my church membership go. Sorrow and anger mingled down deep in my heart. "So you're okay to write about this?"  I did hesitate, but when I thought about all those who had been betrayed or slandered within their own church families, and if God wanted to teach me something of how to forgive when a church isn't sorry; then I would write. Perhaps with pastoral teaching focused on Scripture I could heal and I could truly forgive the whole onion, not just a thin layer at a time. This hurt from the slander had gone on for three years. I didn't want to carry it anymore. We outlined the book during our planning weekend. I figured out how I could write my story without using real names. We talked about how we would move forward on gathering the stories that would illustrate specific points on forgiving someone, forgiving a church community when they were just not sorry.  Then, this past weekend, three years after the I was called into a church office and told in no uncertain terms what I had supposedly done and was chastised and told the church could not in any way help me ( no time, no resources), I received an email I will cherish forever. The Pastor, on behalf of himself and the Elders apologised.  For me, this was a deer in the headlamps moment. I was stunned. I repented of not believing this ever would happen, and put on some music; and just danced to "This is Our God." The book is taking on a whole new ending.

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