Surviving Betrayal

Bethany Johnson

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 for more details.

My Prince on a White Horse

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True . . . Revelation 19:11

I was at work one day in the summer of 1994 when one of my co-workers approached me with a rose and a note. The message on the folded page read, “Your prince is waiting for you outside with his white horse.”

Smiles adorned the faces of the staff as they watched me exit the store in pursuit of the messenger. When I stepped into the sunlight, my eyes rested on my fiancé leaning against a white Mustang convertible with another rose in his hand. He had driven 8 hours from Pennsylvania to surprise me. I truly thought I was living the fairy tale.

On Monday, my husband and I will celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary. Like most couples, those 18 years have held both ups and downs. Thankfully, we’re still here.

One thing remains certain. What began amid a swirl of romance and butterflies has grown into a deep love and companionship that far surpasses the intoxicating newness of budding love. I can’t express the comfort it brings. I can hardly remember life before “us.”

My family

Now “us” has grown to include two amazing sons and our sweet Aussie, Annie. (You may have met her in one of my recent posts!) Happiness dwells within our home. Far more frequently than anger and tears, joy and laughter filter through its walls. I’m grateful.

You see, I know what could have been, had God not intervened. I know who I used to be before I allowed Jesus to begin His transforming work within my heart.

Early in my marriage, I looked to my husband to fill my empty places. I carried many wounds from past rejection, and I thought Steve would rescue me from my hurt and make everything better. You know—the stuff of fairy tales.

You’ve probably discovered as I have that fairy tales are just that. Life rarely measures up to the dream.

But most of what I wrestled with didn’t come from anything my husband did to me. It came from within. I couldn’t get free of the fear that he would stop loving me. My insecurity and self-doubt drove me to desperately need his assurance—and his attention. Without realizing it, I pushed him to perpetually demonstrate his feelings so that I could be at peace. I never was. No matter how much he poured in, I never felt full.

I’m certain my insecurity wearied the man who adored me, whose love never seemed to be enough.

Jeremiah 2:13 explains the reason for my unhappiness.

“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”

My husband is a broken cistern. So am I. An imperfect man in an imperfect world, he can never hold enough to fill me up. But that’s okay; he wasn’t made to.

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14

Thankfully, after the birth of my first son, I learned to drink in the Living Water. I encountered a Savior I trusted was worth loving and surrendered my heart and life to His care.

I discovered something marvelous. He never empties.

He always has enough, and He never withholds it. He never tires of my insecurities or becomes impatient with my imperfections. He just loves, perfectly. And that kind of love can do what no other kind can. It fills.

And as it fills, it heals.

That did something wonderful in my marriage. I stopped pressuring my husband to meet my needs. I could just enjoy who he is instead of demanding what he couldn’t give me. And once I stopped taking, I was able to give.

That’s the beauty of loving Jesus. Loving Him doesn’t take away from our ability to love anyone else. It enables us to love better.

I’m so grateful Jesus has taught me how to love. I’m still learning. So is my husband. But Jesus is the cord that binds us together. He is the true Savior. Riding to our rescue on His white horse, He saves us from ourselves.

Life on this earth may not be a fairy tale, but in Jesus you can discover a capacity for joy you’ve never known. And one day, when He returns to claim His throne, you’ll get your happily ever after.

The Will of the People

Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10

My life took a little detour this week. I was summoned to jury duty. As I write, I sit with at least 100 other prospective jurors amid rows of less than generously cushioned gray chairs in the jury selection room.

The King’s Speech plays on a screen in the front of the room, an attempt to entertain our thoughts away from the wearying reality that we’re still waiting. Most of us have yet to serve. It’s now day three.

Our first morning, however, a different film graced the screen. An educational video designed to enlighten us to the inner workings of our court system encouraged us to enthusiastically embrace the great privilege of serving as jurors. We were told our presence here is a great honor. I’m not sure how many bought it. I don’t think “enthusiastic” aptly describes most of the people joining me in this room.

Enthusiasm aside, their video did offer some compelling thoughts. One particular statement captured my attention and prompted me to write today.

The court serves at the will of the people.

This isn’t news to me. I doubt it’s news to you. From early childhood we’re taught to be grateful for the wonderful principles of democracy on which our great nation was founded: Government by the people, for the people, of the people.

The people hold the power.

And so we fight to see that our desires and goals receive the merit they deserve. We push to ensure that our own will becomes the one the governent serves. We are, after all, “right” about what we believe. So we war with one another, even within the body of Christ.

That’s a troubling observation, considering Jesus words in John 17:22-23.

“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

Jesus prayed for complete unity within His body, that we would be one in the same way that He and the Father are one—same thoughts, same heart, same desires. That unity will be evident to the world, and the world will understand it as an expression of God’s love.

That’s a pretty tall order. It seems impossible to conceive that every believer could unite completely, sharing common desires and serving to establish one common purpose.

But it will happen. One day. Jesus always prays within the Father’s will, so He always gets what He prays for. The question is, will you and I be a part of that glorious day, or will it wait for another generation?

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it . . .  James 4:1-2

Our quarrels find their root in our own selfish desires. We allow our flesh to govern our wills, often without even realizing it. We feel our convictions so strongly, we just assume they come from God. The problem is, we will always believe that we are right, even when we’re wrong.

Every man’s way is right in his own eyes . . . Proverbs 21:2 (NKJV)

Before a life-changing encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus, a Pharisee named Saul murdered Christians. He knew God’s Word. He was a devout defender of his faith. He believed with everything in him that God wanted him to stop people from moving away from religion as he knew it to follow the teachings of Jesus.

He was wrong.

And once he withdrew to allow God to reveal His truth to his seeking heart, he emerged the Apostle Paul. Still a fervent defender of his faith, but now serving in line with God’s true desires. Paul lived Jesus teachings from Luke 9:23. He denied himself, took up the cross of his Christ, and carried the true Gospel message throughout the known world.

Oh, what God can do with one yielded heart! Imagine what He could do with thousands. Beloved, will you offer him yours?



The Grace of Listening

 “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”

James 1:19-20

Most of us get this one wrong. We habitually rattle off whatever comes to mind and often don’t bother to listen. We already know we’re right; we just need to convince the other guy. Of course, the other guy is usually thinking the same thing.

Perhaps you recognize this scenario.

You’re having a discussion or a disagreement, and you’ve paused long enough to give your opponent a moment to respond to your enlightening wisdom. He’s now speaking, but you’re not listening. You’re far too busy contemplating your next argument. Before he’s able to put the period on his sentence, you let loose again, hoping to seal the deal.

Discussions like that usually don’t resolve anything. You end up right where you began. Except now the stubborn refusal to agree has left both sides fuming.

Have you ever been caught in that destructive cycle? I have. It’s one of the pitfalls of having a perfectionist personality. Those of us chained to that particular stronghold can be driven by a compulsive need to prove ourselves right. So we try.

Unfortunately, our behavior has consequences. Galatians 6:7 teaches,

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

Apparently, so does a woman. On a number of occasions when I’ve tried to talk to my sons about something they don’t really agree with, I’ve realized they’re not tuning in. Instead of listening, they’re working on their own arguments. They’ve already made up their minds. Their retort to my advice offers the proof. Instead of hearing my point, they just justify theirs. Our chains have a way of winding themselves around the next generation.

Here’s the good news: there is One who sets captives free!

In Christ we’ve been given the power to live differently. We don’t need to keep repeating our same damaging patterns. Consider some of His promises.

  • Romans 8:37  . . . in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
  • Philippians 4:13  I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
  • 1 Corinthians 2:16  . . . But we have the mind of Christ.

God has given us so much more than we realize or utilize! We have been given the very mind of our Lord and Savior. He is always patient, always kind, always loving, always forgiving. What’s more, He’s a great listener.

You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry.

Psalm 10:17

Jesus desires to demonstrate His character through us. What if we allowed Him to teach us to listen like He does? It starts with learning to listen to Him.

Allow me to let you in on a little secret. Our problem isn’t actually that we don’t know how to listen; our problem is that we consistently listen to the wrong voice. We’re so tuned in to the cries of our own selfish desires that we often refuse to consider anything else.

We must learn to quiet ourselves and listen for the voice of our Shepherd. His motives are always to heal, to encourage, to restore. Rather than simply rattling off our own personal thoughts, we need to seek His.

When we take a moment to listen for His guidance, He will stir us toward restoration. He will convict us of our own selfish motives and reveal our deceptions. He will lead us on the path of encouragement when we listen for His words instead of spouting our own.

And the words of the Lord are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times. Psalm 12:6

When we speak with His words, we don’t ever have to worry that we’ll say the wrong thing. His words create life where it didn’t exist.

And as we learn to let Jesus guide us through our difficult conversations, we will notice something else. We become changed. His presence reveals the fleshly attitudes of our hearts and sifts them. As a result, we become more like Him. We will naturally become better listeners and find ourselves compassionately moved to hear and consider the needs of others.

I’m so thankful that Jesus releases chains. He’s changed my heart, and I’ve learned to respond to people differently. Sometimes. But when I stumble, He’s always there to pick me back up and direct me toward forgiveness. Healing follows.

His love is better than life.