The Secrets of the Heart

Last week Bethany shared how God led her down the path of forgiveness after a devastating betrayal. Her willingness to submit to God’s will brought about dramatic restoration and allowed God to work His wonderful good out of her pain (Romans 8:28). Today, she shares some of what God revealed to her about herself that helped to bring about her transformation. May her transparency allow God to work restoration in you.


The Secrets of the Heart by Bethany Johnson

Many say that one of Satan’s most favorite sins is pride.  I never thought of myself as a prideful person (especially because I had such a low self esteem), but God used my painful betrayal experience to bring to light how I often let pride govern me.

Several days after the incident I was approached by a stranger that had been involved in what happened. He proceeded to tell me that I was to blame.  His words devastated me; quite frankly, I had always viewed myself as the victim. 

Now the reasons that this individual used to validate his claim were unfounded, but there was some truth in what he said to me that day.  The actions taken by my offender were ultimately a choice I did not make. He was responsible for his own actions, and I could not be held accountable for his choices. However, when I allowed God to search my heart, I saw that I had played a huge role in the circumstances leading up to those decisions. 

I had been trying to change this person for 9 years through my own abilities.  Never once during that period did I stop and pray for God to work in his heart. I was convinced that if I wanted something done, I needed to take care of it myself. I didn’t want to wait for God.  God was making it clear to me that I do not have the power to change anyone—only He does, and He does it in His perfect timing. 

If only I had put 1 Corinthians 1:30 to memory,

It is because of Him [not the efforts of Bethany Johnson] that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

I needed to be less of a stumbling block for my offender and more of a surrendered vessel for the Holy Spirit.  My next step in this process was to take ownership of my personal guilt and seek repentance.

Scripture revels to us what a true repentant heart looks like in many places, but over the last 6 years these have become two of my favorites:

  • Matthew 3:8 (NLT) – Prove by the way you LIVE that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.
  • Acts 26:20 (NIV) – First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and DEMONSTRATE their repentance by their deeds.

In these verses, God gave me a standard by which I could tangibly see Him working through the both of us.  I saw changes that lasted longer than a few weeks or even months; they were permanent.  We didn’t just change the wrong behaviors; we completely changed the way we “LIVE.” That kind of transformation can never be accomplished through the works of man, but only through the power of the Lord Almighty when we honestly come to Him with a heart seeking repentance. 

Then God revealed the next step in my journey: trust in Him and Him alone.

God showed me that while I professed to have faith in Him, I didn’t really trust Him. Instead, I relied solely on myself and this other person—and look where it got the two of us.  Biblically speaking, my offender had been an idol in my life. I had placed him in a position God was meant to fill. I was giving Satan the victory by placing all my trust in something that was clearly not trustworthy and would continually fail me.  And boy does it hurt when your idols let you down! Thankfully, Jesus never will.

I can’t tell you how many times I was told that I should end my relationship with this person because “people do not change.”  That’s true. People don’t change on their own, and people don’t change other people.  We are all sinful by nature. We need to submit to the power of God’s Spirit.

The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants.  And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires.  These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. Galatians 5:17 (NLT)

My response to that statement quickly became, “You’re right. GOD changes people, and until you can trust in Him to do so, people will never change.”  The day I began saying this was the day I was no longer in control of my own life. He was.  I may have claimed to be saved when I was 7 years old, but I believe now that I did not completely invite the Lord into my heart and give my life to Him until this moment. 

This realization opened my eyes to one of the reasons why the pain of the betrayal was so deep: I had found my identity in that person instead of Christ.

For you are a people holy to the Lord your God.  The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be His people, His treasured possession.  Deuteronomy 7:6

I know that God has chosen me and that I am so very treasured!  He loves and accepts me just how I am because he “knit me in my mother’s womb”.  He will never leave or forsake me because the Holy Spirit dwells in the depths of my heart.  When I identify myself as a child of God then it does not matter what the sinful world throws my way. I am still His.


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.

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.