Monthly Archives: September 2015

Et tu, Brute? (How to handle betrayal and rejection.)

Et tu, Brute? (How to handle betrayal and rejection.)

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Brutus Old

Betrayal hurts. Whether it’s from a spouse, a parent, a child or a BFF, when someone is disloyal and lets you down, you feel it. Deeply.

“Et tu, Brute?” is a Latin phrase meaning “you, too, Brutus?” and supposedly these were the last words of the Roman dictator Julius Caesar to his friend Marcus Brutus at the moment of his assassination.

You may not die at the hand of your betrayer, but something inside of you hurts so badly you might wish you were dead.

I told my wife about thirty-five years ago that I was done with our marriage and wanted a divorce. That betrayal wounded her deeply.

In a moment of intense anger, my dad once told me never to call him “Father” again. That rejection sent me into a tailspin of grief and despair.

Over the years, some good friends (at least I had thought they were good friends) who were involved in my church have betrayed my friendship, and they left cursing my name on their way out.

Like I said, betrayal hurts. It rips your heart out of your chest, stomps on it, and then casts you aside like trash set out at the curb for pickup.

Betrayal 1

You’ve probably already dialed up a painful memory in which someone said or did something to crush your spirit. We’ve all been there at some point.

Tragically, traits like faithfulness, loyalty, and steadfastness are not as common as they once were in our culture. Some have suggested there is a “narcissism epidemic” in our country, and that too many people today belong to the “Me, Me, Me Generation.”

When it’s all about me, then my commitment to any relationship is subject to my emotions and my wishes at any give moment. Turning my back on others isn’t that big of a deal when I’m the center of my world.

Obviously, this self-centered view creates a climate in which it’s pretty easy to screw somebody and betray them without a second thought. If it’s best for me, and it helps and satisfies me, then why not?

Betrayal 2

Okay, betrayal happens (thanks for throwing that pain in my face again, Bubna). So how should we handle it when it does?

Here are four things I suggest you consider (none of which are easy, btw):

  1. Die gracefully.

Whether you’re dealing with the dissolution of a marriage or the death of a friendship, it’s always better to take the relational high road in the aftermath of betrayal. You can kick, scream, and bite with a vengeance, or you can entrust your life and soul to the One who understands. Don’t forget, Jesus was scorned, rejected and betrayed on a regular basis. He understands, and He’s there for you in the midst of your pain.

To choose to die gracefully is not to deny the reality of your situation or your broken heart. It is, however, to say, “Jesus, help me to die to myself as You did and to forgive as you forgave even from the cross.”

Death of our supposed right for vengeance never comes easy, but remember, with God in the mix, death is never the end of the story either.

Betrayal 3

  1. Learn abundantly.

In my experience, when there’s an issue and conflict between two parties, one person is rarely to blame for everything that happened. Nobody is that perfect to be wrong all of the time.

Years ago, a very good friend accused me of something I did not do. I was livid! I ranted and raved for days building a case for my defense and attacking his character in the process.

Then the Holy Spirit whispered to my heart, “What will you learn in your pain?” Of course, my immediate thought was, I’m going to learn how to hurt that guy! Again, came the gentle prodding of the Spirit. “Kurt, don’t make this about how right you are; make it about personal and spiritual growth.”

A wise man or woman will ask, “What can I learn from this betrayal and this experience?”

Betrayal 4

  1. Forgive profusely.

I’ll be frank; it’s easy to talk about forgiveness but extremely difficult to practice it. In fact, maybe you’ve noticed it’s waaayyyy easier to hold on to a grudge and to be bitter than to release someone from our judgment.

Our human nature demands vindication. We want revenge. We don’t typically drift to forgiveness. We fast track to payback!

Certainly, sometimes it’s necessary to correct someone’s action against us. And the unjust offender may, in fact, suffer some natural consequences for their injustice toward us.

But walking in unforgiveness is not an option for a Christ-follower. We forgive because we’ve been forgiven. We forgive to set the other person free of our judgment but mostly to set ourselves free from the bondage of unforgiveness. As Lewis Smedes once said, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”

Betrayl 5

  1. Love lavishly.

I’ve taught the value of unconditional love for decades. On a regular basis, I circle back to this issue in my blogs, books, and messages.

Why? Because God’s love for us has absolutely nothing to do with our performance, and He calls us to love as we are loved.

When betrayed. Love.

When wounded. Love.

When falsely accused and rejected. Love.

When a BFF becomes a WPE (worst possible enemy). Love.

When everything in you wants to scream and curse and take somebody out. Love.

It may not change your situation. It may not affect your circumstances. And I can promise you it won’t be easy. But love nonetheless.

Love because it changes you. Love lavishly because the alternative is never good. Love because you are loved.

When your “Brutus” sticks his knife in your back, choose by the grace of God to say, “Ego quos amo, perducat vos, Brute!” (meaning I love and forgive you!)

Choose well. Live well. Be well.

Betrayl 6 At just the right time,

when we were still powerless,

Christ died for the ungodly.

Romans 5:6 (NIV)

Like what you’ve read here today? Check out all five of my books on Amazon. Some of the eBook versions can be purchased for only $2.99.

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You might also be interested in my newest book for children: Pete the Prodigal Pumpkin! A Good News Halloween Story.

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11 Responses to Et tu, Brute? (How to handle betrayal and rejection.)

  1. In the midst of my pain and circumstance I literally cried out to Jesus for help…thank you…this is right on time for me.

  2. Jesus said in Matthew 6: 14, For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. I think this is one of the few times Jesus actually had a consequence for inaction. As you said, Kurt, forgiving is indeed loving. They go hand in hand. It is difficult, for sure, but Jesus never promised us a rose garden, and a rose garden also has LOTS of thorns!!! I so appreciate your words of wisdom, and LOVE reading what comes from God through your mind.

  3. ouch…in the struggle of pain and hurt with a love one…especially one you have BIRTHED..this is sooooo very hard to “turn the other cheek” But I KNOW this is what I should do. Thank you for the reminders that this is what Jesus is wanting from me..I want to prove that I AM RIGHT to my oldest soooo bad that I forget she is just pushing buttons to see if I will still love her no matter what…this is a failing that I pray one day I will change this for better.

  4. When you live a “Lifetime Movie” life and noone sees or believes the truth, you feel so lost and abandoned. When you’ve forgiven 490 times (70 times 7 – Matthew 18:22), plus one more, plus one more, plus one more…sometimes you feel so forgotten. Then 49 years later, God sends you a miracle that says, “I know the truth and I love you more.” It’s still tough, but now you know that it’s not about revenge, it’s not about being made whole, it’s about believing in God’s love. Thanks Kurt for sharing your heart.

  5. This is a great article, Kurt! Hits home with me! Since being a widow l have had several friendships that have betrayed me. I long to still be their friends but they aren’t interested. Life tragedies have seem to prove a lot in relationships and in taking a good look at myself. The pain runs so deep.

THE PROBLEM WITH BIG BUTS (A Tribute to Noel Campbell)

THE PROBLEM WITH BIG BUTS (A Tribute to Noel Campbell)

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imageSome of you have big buts (the one “t” variety, not the other). By that I mean you live in a state of constant emotional and relational tension because you live in the land of but . . .

• I know I’m supposed to forgive my spouse, but . . .
• I know my BFF didn’t mean to be a jerk, but . . .
• I know my dad didn’t intend to hurt me, but . . .
• I know my spouse isn’t perfect, but . . .
• I know my son is trying to change, but . . .
• I know my boss didn’t mean to wound me, but . . .

Sadly, you’ve created a “yeah, but” world that is killing you. It’s robbing you of joy. It’s creating unnecessary tension in your relationships. And worst of all, it’s setting you up to love conditionally.

The second you add a “but,” you add a condition or an excuse. You are saying to others, “I know the right thing to do, but my choice to do the right thing is subject to your choice to do the right thing.” You are rationalizing your half-hearted love and acceptance of others based on their actions. How’s that working for you?

imageHint: God expects (demands, actually) that you love others as He loves you (John 15:12). His love for you is unconditional—never based on your performance. Your love for others is not dependent on the circumstances, their competence, or your emotions. There’s no, “I love you, but . . .”

You see, God knows that radical and unconditional love changes people. Love without strings attached motivates them to want to honor that selfless love. When people know, deeply know, they are valued for who they are—no matter what they do, they are inspired to respond to that love in kind. However, even if your love doesn’t change them, you love. Period. End of story.

So drop the but and simply love others as you are loved by the Father.

imageLet’s flip this around. Sometimes we say “yeah, but” to God.

• I know I’m forgiven, but . . .
• I know You have a plan for my life, but . . .
• I know You love me, but . . .

Essentially, you say to God, “I believe in You, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to make it to heaven, but I’m not sure You know what You’re doing concerning me.”

You know in your knower that you don’t deserve and haven’t earned God’s love and favor. You believe in His goodness, but you also know, better than anybody else, your badness. So the tension in your soul grows with every failure. “I know I’m loved, but . . . “

Maybe it’s time to drop the but with God, too.

Of course, God wants you to grow. Certainly, He disciplines those whom He loves (Hebrews 12:6). And His goal for you is spiritual and relational maturity (Ephesians 4:1, 11-13, 21-24 ).

However, to live in the joy of His grace and the freedom of His love means you accept and revel in His unstoppable, unconditional, and unrelenting affection for you! There is nothing you can do to make God love you any more or any less than He already does. Nothing.

imageTrust me, God knows you’ll never be perfect until you’re on the other side of eternity. His expectations of your perfection are not as high as your expectations.

So the only time it’s acceptable to use but is when it’s followed by God!

• I know I’m not perfect yet, but God . . .
• I know my past is littered with failure, but God . . .
• I know I’m prone to wander, but God . . .
• I know I don’t deserve the blessings of Jesus in my life, but God . . .

When you remove the big buts from your relationship with God and from your relationships with others, everything changes because you change.

One last thing: Does my sin make my but look big? Oh yeah.

But God is bigger than any but.

imageSo choose well. Live well. Be well.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love

with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses,

made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.”
Ephesians‬ 2:4-5‬ ESV‬‬


IMG_9776Note: This blog is dedicated to Noel Campbell, a man who taught me the most about unconditional love and grace. A spiritual father to many, Noel was a huge part of my life for over 40 years. He went to be with Jesus on September 5 at the age of 87. My heart aches . . . yet all of heaven rejoices to welcome this truly great man of God. You are loved Noel.





Like what you’ve read here today? Check out all five of my books on Amazon. Some of the eBook versions can be purchased for only $2.99.

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