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Phil Waldrep talks about the aftermath of a friend’s betrayal. Waldrep also tells how examining some restored Japanese pottery at an antique store one day taught him a lesson about reconciliation.
Bob: If someone has been untrustworthy/if they've betrayed us, should we every trust them again? And if so, how do we know when it's safe to trust someone? Here's Phil Waldrep.
Phil: I think betrayers will betray again if they do not see the sinfulness of what they did or they don't see the error of their ways. A betrayer, who is unrepentant, will justify his behavior. How many times have we all heard the person, who has been unfaithful, and they'll say, “My wife just wasn't meeting my needs,” or “My husband wasn't meeting my needs.” And what they're trying to do is to justify their sin.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, September 16th. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson; I'm Bob Lepine. You’ll find us online at FamilyLifeToday.com. How can trust be rebuilt in a relationship when there has been betrayal? And how can we know if it's safe to trust someone again? We'll explore that today with Phil Waldrep. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. We're talking this week about what's got to be one of the hardest subjects to talk about/one of the hardest pains for any person to live through—and that's the pain of betrayal—when trust has been violated. When this happens in a marriage relationship, it's devastating. When it happens between parents and kids, it's devastating.
It rocks your world. I was talking to a mom and dad recently and one of their adult kids had been keeping stuff secret and lying about what was going on. These parents are devastated in this relationship with this child, wondering: “How do we ever get to where we were and where we'd like to be again?” This is the real stuff of relationships and life.
Dave: Yes; when you watch other people go through betrayal or hurt, it's easy to stand away and go, “Man, I don't know why they're so hurt. It's not that bad.” And then, when it happens to you and you feel it in your soul, it's like, “Oh my goodness. This is why relationships are so valuable. When somebody you love hurts you in a deep way, it isn't just, ‘Get over it,’—
Dave: —it's a journey.”
Ann: And you know what else is really hard?—is when someone hurts your child. As parents—man, we love/we protect our children. And so, when someone has betrayed or hurt our child, I think there's something that rises up in us, especially as moms, probably, that is hard to forgive that betrayer.
Bob: Phil Waldrep is joining us this week to help us navigate the path of restoration when there's been betrayal. Welcome back to FamilyLife Today, Phil.
Phil: Thank you, Bob. Always great to be here.
Bob: Phil is the author of a book on this subject called Beyond Betrayal. He's a speaker and a writer. He hosts conferences all over the country; some of our listeners have been to Women of Joy conferences or to the Gridiron men's events that he does.
Dave: That's a pretty good title, by the way. [Laughter]
Bob: —from a chaplain and a former quarterback here.
This book, Beyond Betrayal, as you've already shared this week, came out of an experience with a ministry associate/a longtime friend, who betrayed the ministry, betrayed your confidence, betrayed your trust. There was a confrontation; you thought maybe he had repented, then it turned out that he hadn't.
You ultimately had to ask for his resignation. Did you continue to have any interaction with or any face to face with this guy while you're on this journey of trying to deal with your own emotions?
Phil: Very little, and it was more his choice. We did go to the same church at the time.
Dave: Oh, boy.
Phil: And that made it rather difficult because I felt there [were] some things that I knew that were legally/confidentially that I couldn't share. Secondly, I did not want to wound his family. He didn't have children, but I didn't want to wound his wife; and I didn't want to wound his friends.
One of the painful chapters was, initially—and I say, “initially,” because over time it changed—my pastor didn't believe me, which was very, very painful. Mutual friends did not believe me. I did finally have to come to the place with, particularly my pastor at the time—who today is a very dear friend and who has made it real clear to me in later years—has come to me and asked for my forgiveness, because he did not see what I saw.
Again, I think it's very important—sometimes, some betrayals are very public; you know, everybody knows. Some betrayals are very private—and unless you choose to tell the whole story, publicly—which is not wise in every case/sometimes it may be—but not wise. He was not a threat to anyone else; he was not a threat to children. It was nothing that I would be either legally, ethically, or even spiritually bound to disclose.
For me, I needed to heal, and I didn't want to have to deal with a lot of explanations. I didn't have church family to surround me during that time; my wife and I chose to go to another church. I have to be very quick, again, to say that the pastor/the people at that church—I think, without a single exception, over time, came back. But if they hadn't, it would have been okay; it would have been okay.
But I think betrayers, if you give them enough time, as a rule, they betray other people. In fact, I had this conversation the other day. A man came to see me in our office; and you know, I'm not a great personal counselor—I need to tell you that—that's just not my gift. But this man came to see me; I knew him very well. He sat in my office, and he shed tears. And he said to me, “I just can't believe I'm sitting here telling you that my wife has had an affair. She has betrayed me,”—and just sharing his pain.
And he said, “How could she do this to me?” And before I thought, I said, “You know, I think I remember that's what your first wife said when she sat in that chair, and you had an affair.” He looked at me and said, “I know, but this is different.” I said, “No, it's not different.”
Betrayers, if they don't address their sin, will betray other people. Now, he is the betrayed, rather than the betrayer. Now, I was more sympathetic as the conversation went on—[Laughter]—but as you know, when you deal with men sometimes, the best way is a head-on.
Dave: That had to get his attention.
Phil: Well, it did get his attention; because all of a sudden, he's like, “Ohh. This is what she felt?” I don't think betrayers set out to hurt people, not in most cases. Most affairs are just: “I want to do this and have my marriage and my family as well.” The devil gives you many reasons why your sin is justified. He will tell you why it's okay. And of course—and I always remind people about any sinful behavior but, particularly, unfaithfulness or a betrayal—the devil will whisper in your ear, “Nobody will ever know.” But the minute you fall into that sin, he starts broadcasting it everywhere; he makes sure everyone knows.
Bob: I'm thinking about the couples I know, where she's starting to come to church by herself. People are saying, “So, where's your husband?” She's having to explain: “Do I say he moved out? What do I tell?” Navigating the path of healing, and protection, and not saying too much/not being dishonest at the same time.
Dave: At the same time, you want to hurt them—
Dave: —because you've been betrayed. In the church, here's how we do it: we don't gossip; we use it as a prayer request—
Dave: —“We need to pray for Bob.” “Oh really; why?” “Well, Bob just did this to me; and…” You know what I mean? We cloak it like it's okay, but it really isn't; is it?—to go broadcast around?
Phil: You have to remember, when people ask in church life—and I think it's important to be reminded, as those of us, who are in the body of Christ and in church—when there is that single mom that comes, you just may want to say, “You doing okay?” You give them an opportunity; but you don't have to, you know, suddenly try to get into all the gory details. And for sure, you don't go share it.
One of the things that—I don't know how I would respond now if social media had been present at the time I went through it—because people can, you know, it's giving everyone the ability to share information—
Phil: —and to put “I heard” in the rumors. One thing in the body of Christ—I think it's important for us to know we truly pray for people, but we don't have to go and destroy people. And we don't have to go and share all the gossip.
Ann: I want to go back to something you said. You said that betrayers will betray again unless they are repentant. I'm thinking of people listening, and I'm thinking, “Oh, their husband or their spouse came back and said, ‘This has happened. I know I got caught, but this isn't going to happen again’; but it doesn't seem like there's been any real spiritual repentance. Should they be worried?
Phil: Well, I think we all should probably be concerned; but let me clarify. I think betrayers will betray again if they do not see the sinfulness of what they did or they don't see the error of their ways. A betrayer, who is unrepentant, will justify his behavior. He will—how many times have we all heard the person, who has been unfaithful, and they'll say, “Well, my wife just wasn't meeting my needs,” or “My husband wasn't meeting my needs.” What they're trying to do is to justify their sin.
Ann: A warning light should be going off if that's happening.
Phil: Exactly. So if someone is truly broken and repentant—you know, Jesus said we forgive one time; right?—no. Jesus said seven times seventy. I think we always are willing to forgive; but again, trust has to be earned.
For healthy relationships, sometimes, we have to set those boundaries. You know, I have, again, friends who have recently gone through this. It just happened to be the lady, where the man had an affair/works with him. I had to turn to the man, and I said, “You need to quit your job.” And he's like, “Well, I can't quit my job. I'm making good money.” I said, “No; if you want your marriage to be restored, you cannot work in that environment with her.”
It was a test for him; because he thought he was going to be strong enough to, you know, restore the marriage and stay in the job. I said, “No, as long as she's there, there will always be a temptation.” He chose to leave his job. That did so much for their marriage; because his wife saw, at that point, he was really going to try.
So first step in trust—but you're right—I think you have to be aware—a betrayer who dose not see what he did as sin and wrong, and deal with it, is going to turn around and betray again.
Go back to the story of Judas. We forget that, when Judas went back to the leaders, they basically said, “We don't want to have anything to do with you.” You know, Judas, who betrayed Jesus, turns around; and he gets betrayed himself, at a lesser level, but he gets betrayed himself because they don't want the money back. They're like, “No; we don't want anything to do with you.” He, in turn, is betrayed as well. And that's the reason why I say that people who betray, sometimes betray again; sometimes they get betrayed.
Dave: It really never ends until the betrayer has to repent; that's when it ends. Until then, anything could happen; and it could keep spinning away, and then you're left with the debris; right?
Phil: Exactly; and they deal with the core that's causing them to betray people. People,
who have been betrayed, or people, who have an all-things-at-all-costs mentality, sometimes feel the end justifies the means: “It was okay to betray the person I worked for as long as it ultimately helped me launch my own business.” No, it does not justify. At the core of what we're talking about is character. And if the character is flawed, it's going to continue to be flawed.
Dave: You mentioned a 20-year journey.
Dave: Again—it seems like a long time. Some people say, “I'm not going to sign up for that; it's too much work.” And yet, you got to a place, where you were healed. I mean, we're always continuing to heal; but how did you know?
Ann: What was the day that you thought: “I found hope.”
Dave: How did you know you were there?
Phil: You know the day I found it—I remember it as though it was yesterday. It was probably one of the top five days of my life; because when I was betrayed, one of the things that really hurt deep was I felt the vision and the calling in the ministry that God had given us, had been greatly impacted. And it had; it set us back financially, and in practical ways, and the things that he was doing in the ministry a positive way. I felt like, “There's no hope for me.”
I was in town one day, and I was speaking at this church. It was one of those days that I was going to drive back that night, so I checked out of the hotel early. I've got like three or four hours that I really don't have anything to do. Normally, I go hang out at a bookstore. But the other thing I like to do—and I don't really collect antiques—but I like to roam antique stores. I went over; I saw this little neat antique store. I went over/walk around; because a lot of times you have privacy, because there's not a lot of people in there that come talk to you.
I'm in there just walking around. For various reasons, I guess, I've always been fascinated with old pottery. I saw they had some pottery; I walked over. To those who are serious pottery collectors, you know about Roseville and Hull pottery and those kind of things. They had some unique pieces of Roseville pottery, so I walked over there. I was just fascinated with that, and I began to look.
They had a lot of pottery that was foreign pottery. Now, pottery has to be perfect to have value. If it has one chip/one flaw, the price drops dramatically, almost to the point of no value. So, if you have a piece of Roseville pottery, and it's got a chip in it, it's going to be worth a tenth of what perfect pottery is. That's important to remember because, as I'm standing there, they have all this wonderful Japanese pottery. And boy, the prices—I'm like, “Oh, wow!” And then they had this one piece of pottery that was obviously broken/obviously repaired, and the price was twice the price of the other pottery. I was like, “I don't know why that is.” I called the lady over; and I said, “Why is this piece of pottery”—that obviously is broken and repaired—“did this belong to some famous person?”
She said, “Oh no, sir. You don't understand. In every culture, in the 17- and 1800s—American culture or wherever—when a piece of pottery was broken, they would pick up the pieces and they threw it out. But not the Japanese; the Japanese would pick up the pieces of that pottery and they would put it back together. But they discovered the only way they could get it to hold was to make an epoxy with gold in it. And so what you are seeing, sir, is a repaired broken piece of pottery that has been interlaid with gold. The piece that has been put back together with the gold epoxy is worth far more than the piece that was never broken.”
She walked away. You know, as Christians, what I mean—
Phil: —me and the Lord had a good time; because the Lord spoke to me and said, “You thought it was shattered. You thought it was broken. You thought it was worthless. You saw no hope. You've picked up the pieces, and you've tried to put it back together. But if you'll try to put it back together the way I want you to…”
That's when I realized that: “I really do have to forgive; I do have to trust again. I do have to take down the walls that were keeping people out”—emotionally, and spiritually, and every other way—“and let those people back in [my] life.” “If you'll trust Me and do it My way—there will always be the cracks; they will always be visible—but I want you to know you will see a worth and a value, even before you walked through the betrayal.”
The hope for me that day was understanding that, when you have been betrayed—when your marriage is shattered, when your business is shattered, when a relationship is shattered—and you feel like you're just standing there, holding pieces, and there's no value at all. The good news is: it takes time; you don't put a piece of pottery back together in a day; it takes time. But if you will do it God's way—and allow the precious purity of His love and His wisdom to, piece by piece, put it back in your life—you will be absolutely amazed how, in the end, God can create something more beautiful, more valuable, more worthwhile, more whatever you want—than even before the brokenness occurred.
Bob: Do you have, today, a relationship with the one who was your betrayer?
Phil: I do not. I have reached out on occasion, but he has made the choice not to have a relationship—not just with me—but with everyone in that stage of his life.
Bob: If he texted you today and said, “Can we get together?”
Phil: I would talk to him. In fairness, I would probably have a third party there.
Phil: I think that would be healthy for several reasons. But sure, I would sit down and talk to him.
Bob: You would like to think there could be a day when the wounds are healed and you could be restored to some level of a relationship.
Phil: —a friendship, yes.
Bob: And I think—you've already said this—it's not the idea that it could be restored to the place where it was. Sometimes there's enough damage done that you can't restore to the place where it once was, but we should always be pursuing. I'm thinking of
2 Corinthians 5, where it says we've been entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation. Reconciled relationships—that's the story of the Bible; isn't it?
Bob: And so we ought to be pursuers of reconciled relationships—doing that wisely, prudently, appropriately—but that ought to be our heart motivation.
Dave: In some ways, you could say every Christ-follower is a minister of reconciliation; that's in that same passage. Paul says we are called to that ministry.
You know, Phil, even as you were telling that beautiful story, I was sitting here, thinking, “Man, I would love to be laying in bed at night and hear that story said almost every night as you're putting your kids to bed.” It's so beautiful to see the picture of forgiveness and restoration.
But here's what hit me—when I forgave my dad—and even when I say that, it's like, “When God enabled me,” because I couldn't; it was just/it was too deep—and when I went through that journey/years’-long journey and forgave him, I didn't even understand at that moment how my freedom and my relationship with my dad—and again, it didn't become this perfect relationship with my dad in his final years of life, but it was much better.
But I didn't understand this: “When I allowed God to set me free, I was setting my sons free.” I had no idea that this was now going to be part of my legacy. If I didn't go on that journey, I'm going to have a totally different legacy; because I'm going to bring that into my family. That sort of stain and bitterness is going to be passed down. Yet, because their dad was free—I'm not saying they're perfect—but it was like they didn't even experience it; I don't think they even knew it.
Ann: No, I don't think so.
Dave: They never felt the venom from their dad toward their grandpa that was a large part of my life. It was a legacy changer.
I'm guessing your forgiveness/your freedom, not only affected you, it's affected your wife and your legacy; right?
Ann: It’s so inspiring. I think of Romans 8:28—that God uses all things together for good. I look at your book; and I think you probably wouldn't have written this book, had you not gone through this experience.
Ann: And that Japanese pottery—we actually did a women's retreat because that was like the theme of it; because it's such a beautiful picture. I think it's called Kintsugi.
Phil: That's the way I would say it. I was going to say it a moment ago, but I don’t—
Ann: I didn't know exactly; yes.
Phil: —always say it the same each time.
Ann: The Kintsugi pottery. I think that's true of all of us—we're all broken; and yet, God can take those pieces and put them back together; and it's more beautiful after He's restored us.
Phil: One of the things I discovered about forgiveness—I always thought forgiveness was like a point in time, where I say, “I forgive.” And for me, I discovered forgiveness, for a long time, was a daily choice. Forgiveness is not a feeling; it is an action/it is a choice. For me, I had to get up every morning and say, “Lord, today I choose to forgive my betrayer.” I didn't try to worry about next week; I didn't worry about next month. “Today, I choose to forgive.”
To come out on the other side—the story of the pottery: that there's hope; and there's value; and there's joy—because, you know, God uses everything that happens to us. It doesn't mean everything's great; some things are painful, but it is a necessary part of the process.
Or as I like to, often, when I [teach] kids—I remember going to this center for butterflies one time. They had the cocoons, you know, where the larva have been. One of the butterflies was breaking out. This little girl wanted to help; I said, “No, you can't help do that; because if you do, they will not have strength in their wings to fly. What you think is helping is really hurting.”
Bob: Our hope is that people, who are in the midst of the pain, can find the freedom that God promises if you'll walk this path faithfully. If you'll press into these issues and get to forgiveness, there's freedom on the other side of that. If you hang onto/you hold onto resentment and bitterness, there's no freedom there; you're going to be in bondage. Our hope is that our listeners can follow the path that you've outlined for us here.
Phil, thank you for writing the book. Thank you for coming and sharing the story and for helping all of us on this.
Phil: Well, thank you for having me. It's always my joy whenever I can just maybe help someone, who's in the midst of their pain, to realize it may be hurting now/they may be hurting tomorrow; but with time, there's hope; and the sun will shine again.
Bob: We want to help make that happen. In fact, we're making your book available this week to any of our listeners who'd like to get a copy. If you can help with a donation to support the ministry of FamilyLife Today, we'll send you a copy of Phil's book, Beyond Betrayal: Overcome Past Hurts and Begin to Trust.
Maybe you're not in this place yourself, but you know somebody who has been through betrayal—get a copy of Phil's book and use it to help them know how to respond. Again, the book is our thank-you gift when you support the ongoing work of FamilyLife Today. This ministry exists because listeners, like you, make it possible. We're on this station—or if you're listening as a podcast on the internet/through your Alexa® device—the production and syndication of this program is made possible because listeners like you
believe in what we're doing and donate to make it happen.
So again, if you can help with a donation, we'd love to send you Phil Waldrep's book, Beyond Betrayal, as our way of saying, “Thank you for partnering with us.” Go to FamilyLifeToday.com to donate online, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to make a donation over the phone. We look forward to hearing from you; and thanks, in advance, for whatever you're able to do in support of this ministry.
Tomorrow we want to talk about the importance of cultivating transparency and authenticity in a marriage—being open and honest with one another so that betrayal doesn't happen. Ryan and Selena Frederick are going to join us tomorrow to talk about that. We hope you can be with us.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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