This week, I’m excited to introduce you to Bethany Johnson. She recently shared her story at a Girl’s Night Out event at my home church (Hanover First Church of God), and I asked her if she would be willing to share it with you on my blog. I pray you will be blessed by her two-week series on surviving betrayal, demonstrating how God uses the trials in our lives to change who we are. Join us again next week for the rest of her story!
Surviving Betrayal by Bethany Johnson
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28
Have you ever read a verse and allowed your flesh to only hear a part of it? I first learned Romans 8:28 as a child, and like most little girls, I loved the “happily ever after” of this Scripture. I understood it to mean that it did not matter what I did or what others did, God would make it work for MY good. Come on—who wouldn’t like that message!
Growing up, this misconception shaped my decision-making. I never sought God’s opinion on how to handle anything. If I couldn’t figure it out myself, then I would find another person in my life that could, trusting that God would come in at the end to make it all happy! Operating in this mindset left everything ultimately in MY control, and I felt comfortable there.
A wise man of the faith once told me that being comfortable is never a good place to be. I soon discovered he was right.
Several years ago I received devastating news while driving home from work. I had been deeply betrayed by someone intimately close to me, and the result of this betrayal would be life altering, not just for me, but also for my whole family. My Band-Aid verse did not seem big enough for this wound.
I had no idea how to respond to such pain and quite frankly, was too embarrassed to ask for anyone’s help. I did not understand how God could make anything good come of this mess that I was being forced to call my new life.
That was the only day I was thankful for my two-hour commute. God spoke to my heart in that car, and I realized for the first time that I could not fix this . . . only He could. The Holy Spirit also made me aware that He could not begin to work in this situation until I invited and allowed Him to work in me.
I never understood what it meant to be completely broken before God until that moment. All the anger and resentment toward the person who hurt me was suddenly forgotten, and I just felt lost. For the first time in my life, I had nothing to say. All I could do was listen, and boy did God have a lot to tell me!
My mind filled with all the times in my life that I had sinned against God and He had forgiven me. I thought of the ultimate sacrifice that was made for me, the one I had claimed to receive when I was seven but hadn’t fully understood. I saw Jesus stretched out the cross and remembered how as He hung there, He stared into the faces of his accusers and said:
“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34
My healing began as I humbled myself before my Savior and opened my heart to His leading. Offering Him a quiet spirit that was ready to listen allowed Him to speak His truth into the depths of my soul. He reminded me that He wanted the forgiveness I had accepted from Christ to be poured out on others.
It was a pretty humbling experience. I honestly believe that there is no one you can’t forgive if you have been broken before God in this way. This is the Holy Spirit at work—not YOU! He equips us to do what we don't have the strength to do on our own.
I did not go home that day. I went straight to meet with the person many would have called their new enemy. Through the power of Christ, I was able to look him in the eyes. Instead of having hatred in my heart, I felt compassion. I saw the same brokenness I had felt just 45 minutes earlier. The two of us were like blank canvases awaiting an artist’s paintbrush.
It was then that I realized what God had in store for me. This was going to be the beginning of a long journey. God did not want to merely demonstrate forgiveness through this awful situation. He wanted to bring restoration and revival. He was going to make both of us new.
Through the work of Christ, this experience became a part of the salvation story of two people. I look at that verse I first clung to in a whole new light. Both of us are now people who "love Him and are called according to His purpose.” My, has he worked such a horrible, sinful thing for the good!
Never in my wildest dreams would I have wished this betrayal on myself—or anyone for that matter! But today I can honestly thank God for putting me through it. I no longer have to wear a mask of happiness because I have allowed God to transform my heart from the inside out. I guess He did work it for my good after all.
Begin your own journey to healing! Ladies local to Hanover, PA . . . Beginning October 17, Bethany will be offering an eight-week Bible study in her home entitled "No Other Gods" by Kelly Minter. Fellowship over a meal and then prepare to dig into Truth. Contact Bethany at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.