If you’ve ever wondered how to heal a betrayed heart, then you probably already know that betrayal is a vicious monster who seeks to destroy its victims. It demolishes our trust in people, steals every glimmer of hope that keeps us going, and plunges us into the isolation of loneliness. In that darkness we find our senses have both dulled and sharpened. We become like a hunted animal – numb to anything good in the world around us, but acutely aware of every threat lurking in the darkness.
I want you to know that I have been there. I’ve had my world ripped out from under me by the stinging blow of betrayal. In fact, many people in my life have betrayed me, but the one that landed hardest was the infidelity of my husband – the person I love most in this world. But I have learned, to my delight, that there is One who can make me whole again.
As I’ve made my way through four years (at the time I’m writing this) of recovery, I’ve learned a lot! So today I would like to share with you five steps that will show you how to heal a betrayed heart. These are the things God has used to heal my broken heart and make me whole. I share them with you today with the hope that it will encourage you and renew your hope in God’s power to heal you too.
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How Can I Ease the Pain of Betrayal?
If you’re anything like I was right after the betrayal hit, you just want the pain to let up, even just a little bit. You probably think, as I did, that the answer to how to heal a betrayed heart could only come if the pain is diminished. But I believe an important part of healing is embracing the pain.
When I look at my own life, I see too many instances when I tried to bury the hurts. I kind of think I’m pretty normal in that. I think that tends to be a pretty common coping mechanism. But the thing is, it doesn’t actually help us at all. The only productive thing that can happen to something that has been buried is that it might grow, and I don’t know about you, but I definitely don’t want my pain to grow!
On the other hand, when we face our pain, let ourselves feel it, and then figure out how to move forward from it, we’ve taken steps that can actually lead to healing! So if I want my best chance at what will make me whole again, I will give myself the time and space to feel my pain and to make a plan to deal with it. So let’s look at 5 steps that could be used as a plan for how to heal a betrayed heart.
5 Steps that Can Make Me Whole Again
Step One – Give Yourself Time to Mourn
Just as we have to let ourselves feel the pain, we also have to give ourselves the time and space we need to mourn over what has been lost. It is no small thing, and it must be grieved in the same way any other loss would. Mourning is an important part of processing trauma.
The thing is, grief has requirements if it is going to be done well: We need to be safe, we need to have space, and we need to be free to fully process each of the stages. Part of this first step is not just giving yourself the time you need, but doing what you need to do to make sure no one else is standing in your way either.
Unfortunately, that might mean you need to separate yourself from some of the people in your life. At least for a time. Unsafe people will try and rush you through the stages of grief, or even try to convince you that these important phases of healing shouldn’t be given a place in your life at all.
Sometimes, this comes from a genuine place of care for you, and the person just doesn’t understand how to heal a betrayed heart. If that’s the case, take the time to communicate honestly with the person and explain the importance of mourning the loss in order to process the trauma. However, if there are people who refuse to listen or think they know better, it may be necessary to take a little break from those people.
Be respectful, but let them know you are taking your healing seriously, and they have made themselves unsafe to that process. Let them know you love them, and you’ll be back when you’ve had the time you need to process and heal.
For me this came in the form of a 90 day therapeutic separation from my husband. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but it was a tool God used greatly to get alone with me and do His work to make me whole once again. When our 90 day separation ended, I was much more equipped to do the hard work of recovery in our marriage because I had taken the time to let God start healing me first.
Step Two – Seek God with Your Whole Heart
Step two is easily the most important step of all. If you want to know how to heal a betrayed heart for real, it’s honestly the only step that truly matters. Because you see, when we are seeking God with our whole hearts, He will lead us to everything else we need to be healed and whole. (Proverbs 3:5-6) After all, He is in the business of restoring what has been broken! (Jeremiah 17:14)
Unfortunately, broken hearts often place blame where it does not belong and in the process alienate themselves from the only source of true healing there is. God has not betrayed you my friend! He never will – because He can’t! God is completely faithful and good. He didn’t do this, sin did, and God has absolutely nothing to do with sin. (James 1:12-18) Do not mistake His decision to allow us the freedom of choice as complicity in the betrayal.
There are many things we can do to seek God: Read the Bible, pray, listen to worship music, meditate on Scripture, go to church, listen to sermons, and more. But at this stage of healing, I believe the two most important are reading the Bible and prayer. You see, we need a lot of wisdom to help us navigate through this time. Asking God to show us how to heal a betrayed heart through specific answers to specific questions, and then looking for those answer in Scripture is a surefire way to find that wisdom!
James 1:5-6 – If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask Him, be sure your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.
But even beyond looking for wisdom about how to deal with this specific situation, when we seek God with our whole hearts, we begin to learn about who He is and there is great comfort there! It is because of the fundamental truths about the character of our God that we find the things we need to face the heartache and trials of this life.
I’ve found that in knowing there is a good God who has made it His business to make me whole, I find a source of identity that can not be touched by anything any human can do to me. I find the strength to face life and flourish, living in the victory that only He can give! Seek God, my friend, and find your identity in Him. He will heal what has been broken.
Step Three – Learn to Set and Keep Boundaries
As my husband and I have spent the last few years walking alongside other couples dealing with the aftermath of infidelity, we’ve found that one of the most common obstacles to healing is a lot of misinformation and a lack of understanding about what boundaries are and why they are SO important in our lives. It’s no surprise to us, because when we started this journey we were in the same boat.
The thing is, it’s pretty tough to figure out how to heal a betrayed heart without good, God-honoring boundaries. Biblical boundaries help define who we are and communicate to the people in our lives where we are and are not willing to go. Contrary to popular opinion, they are not about controlling another person, but rather they’re all about staying in control of our own choices and actions.
I can not control another person. No one can. But I can take responsibility for the fact that I will one day answer to God for every decision I make – every action, every inaction, every word out of my mouth – I am accountable to God for all of it. And just as I can’t control anyone else, neither can anyone else control me. When I take the time to really define my borders and set my parameters, it helps give me clarity about who I am and gives me a plan to protect the integrity of that identity.
If you’re feeling a little confused, don’t worry. We don’t have the space to fully deal with this subject in this post, but we’ve spent a lot of time developing resources about boundaries here at HDLD Ministries. You can just type the word boundaries into the search bar in the footer and it will take you to all the content here on the site, but another great place to start is with our book. Just click the affiliate link below to check it out!
Step Four – Find Your People
As we’ve already discussed, not everyone in our lives is going to be safe when we’re learning how to heal a betrayed heart. But that doesn’t mean we should try to do this alone. In fact, we definitely shouldn’t do it alone. We all need support and encouragement. If we want to give ourselves the best chance at healing, we’re going to need to be intentional about finding a support network.
This group can include people like a counselor (preferably one who has been trained to deal with betrayal trauma), a coach or mentor, a recovery program, or a support group. I believe it is also extremely important that this group include a local church with a pastor you can trust. Safe and supportive friends and family will also be important for you to find.
The truth is, you CAN do this even if you can’t find anyone safe to help you. If you have God on your side, you have everything you need. But God created us for community and relationship, and whether it feels like it or not, there ARE safe people out there who will stand in your corner and cheer you on to victory. Take a little time to find them. Ask God to help lead you to fellow believers who will sharpen you on this journey.
There was a time when I really believed I was alone in this world. My broken heart refused to trust anyone. But God has been so gracious in bringing amazing, supportive people into my life and He has used them greatly to heal my heart and make me whole! So go find your people!
Step Five – Choose Victory
This step probably sounds silly, but I promise you, it’s extremely important. I have found there are many people in this world who simply don’t want to be healed or whole. They want to be victims. Somehow, that is where they feel safe, or at least it’s where they find their identity.
If you tell these people they need to take time to mourn, they’ll eagerly latch on to their grief and use it as an excuse to mourn for the rest of their lives. But if you tell them they need to seek God they’ll tell you why He can’t be trusted or how He isn’t interested in helping them. If you tell them to set boundaries they’ll fill you in on all the reasons their situation is unique and how they simply can’t. And if you tell them to find their people, they’ll assure you there is no one in their lives who is safe and no way for them to change that reality.
People like that have decided victory is unattainable, and for that reason alone, it is. But this is not the message God has given us. We may have been hurt, someone may have victimized us, but we are under no obligation to stay broken. We don’t have to be victims forever. Through the power of God’s Holy Spirit in our lives, we CAN choose victory!
Romans 8:31-39 – What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since He did not spare even His own Son but gave Him up for us all, won’t He also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for His own? No one – for God Himself has given us right standing with Himself. Who then will condemn us? No one – for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and He is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.
Do you want to know how to heal a betrayed heart? Choose to believe that a betrayed heart can be healed, then make a plan to pursue that healing, and move forward in victory!
My friend I promise you, as someone who has been broken by betrayal, there is hope! I have found so much peace and joy in what Christ has done in my life since the betrayal. He has even used it to make me whole in a way I don’t think I ever would have been without that tragedy! I honestly thank God for the trial because as I have learned how to heal a betrayed heart, I have found my identity in the God who will never forsake me.
Today, my life is filled with the victory of a life restored! And the same God who did the work to make me whole can do the same for you! Choose victory friend!
Quick Review – How to Heal a Betrayed Heart
So, real quick, let’s wrap this up in a pretty bow. If you want to know how to heal a betrayed heart, start by seeking God with all your heart. Trust His leading as you take the time to mourn your losses from a place of safety, learn to set boundaries and then keep them, and find and surround yourself with the people who will cheer you on to seek God as you heal. Finally, choose victory. You’ve got this!