Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Women World Leaders' Podcast

Mar 25, 2022

Cindy Jacob Southworth, an AACC Certified Relationship Coach, shares about the impact that betrayal has on your life personally and relationally, and how understanding forgiveness can set you free from the consequences of betrayal.


Welcome to Celebrating God’s Grace, a Women World Leaders Podcast.


I am your host Cindy Jacob Southworth, an AACC certified relationship coach with Breakwater Ministries, and part of the Women World Leaders leadership team, and today I am coming to you from Cindy’s Porch.  I want to talk to you about the consequences of betrayal and it’s antidote, but first, let’s go to God in prayer.


Father God, betrayal is a heavy topic, and it is one we know you know a lot about. Help us today to trust in your word and understand the impact that forgiveness can have on our lives and on the lives of the people who are part of our every day life. We praise you and thank you, in Jesus’ name, Amen.



Trust is at the heart of every relationship. It forms a solid foundation for the relationship to grow. However, when trust is broken, a person feels betrayed. They become vulnerable and feel the need to protect themselves.


Psalm 55:12-14 says: “If an enemy were insulting me,
    I could endure it;
if a foe were rising against me,
    I could hide.
But it is you, a man like myself,
    my companion, my close friend,
with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship
    at the house of God, as we walked about
    among the worshipers.”



It’s difficult enough to be hurt by someone, but when it is someone you have trusted your heart with in some way, it leaves a feeling of betrayal. We believe that those we love are in our lives to nourish our soul, and when they do something that defies the intimacy we thought we shared with them, the result is betrayal.


I had a series of betrayals from childhood into my early thirties. I was raised in a dysfunctional home. My mother suffered with mental illness, and my father traveled for several months at a time in his career, so I was left behind at an early age to care for my mom without any skills to know how to dodge her constant contempt towards me. In hindsight, she wasn’t mad at me; she was angry at her inability to cope with life, but I was the easy target.


I left home as soon as I was able, into the arms of a man who physically abused me. With spiritual counsel, I left that relationship, and within a short period of time, I was married to my high school sweetheart and raising a family. Thirteen years later, he ended the marriage and left me a single mother with three children. Desperate, I remarried quickly only to discover I married a man with multiple addictions and mental illness. Our relationship was like a roller coaster.


With each breakup, another layer of mistrust was added to my broken heart. The price of betrayal is high: it left me feeling anxious, insecure, and unsure about my ability to discern who to let into my inner circle – which relationships would be safe for me?


What happens when we experience betrayal?


One of the things that can happen is HYPERVIGILANCE. We are on the alert for anyone who might stab us in the back, we become self-conscious of what others think of us, and we doubt our ability to discern relationships.


A second thing that happens is we become SUSPICIOUSNESS OF GOD, OURSELF, AND OTHERS.


We mistrust others when they give us compliments, even feeling vulnerable when they do. We don’t trust others, and we especially don’t trust ourselves. Sometimes we even have difficulty trusting God.


A third thing that can happen is we have a lot of DISTORTON AND DENIAL.  We lack the ability to read other people. We do not trust our own intuition, and we allow others to tell us what we are feeling instead of adequately verbalizing our own feelings. We excuse other people’s behaviors, even protect them when they are wrong, and often are very judgmental about our own.


Another consequence of betrayal is that we have LOST HOPE FOR INTIMACY.


WE conclude that relationships cannot really be trusted or enjoyed, and we expect them to be temporary. WE might have many friends, but that doesn’t mean we let them know our true feelings. We may keep relationships on a surface level because we are afraid if we get close again, we will be betrayed again. We may struggle with having a deep intimate relationship with God.


The fifth consequence of betrayal is a LOST HOPE FOR STRENGTH AND JUSTICE. We sometimes think because of what happened to us that God is unjust. We beat ourselves up for trusting the person who turned out to be untrustworthy. We protect ourselves instead of depending on someone else to help protect us.


When we have been deeply betrayed, we are in danger of any of these until we exercise the antidote to betrayal.


Does God understand betrayal?


God has experienced rejection and betrayal since time began. Starting with Genesis, He was first betrayed in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve chose to disobey him in favor of the serpent.  They didn’t disobey God because they didn’t like God – they disobeyed God because they believed a lie.


In Hosea, God asks Hosea to marry an unfaithful woman. She leaves him and becomes a prostitute, but because of his redeeming love for her, he buys her back. The unfaithful wife didn’t have anything against Hosea – she didn’t know her worth and so she went back to the only life she thought she deserved.


God did not pour out His wrath on us when we were disobedient. Instead, he sent his Son – God came down in human form to heal, forgive, and embrace humanity. While he was here, there were twelve disciples who became his intimate friends, but one would surely betray him. Jesus himself understands betrayal – and what was his response:  Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.


What is the antidote: The antidote is FORGIVENESS.


One of the things to remember when you are betrayed is that while it was done to YOU, it was never about YOU. The person did what they did because they were thinking more about themselves than they were about you. They had a need to operate in their own sin of self-protective behaviors, greed, threats, physical or emotional harmful behaviors, instead of choosing you. This often leaves you feeling worthless, helpless, and unlovable.


It is really difficult, almost impossible, to forgive the person for their actions. Forgiving my father, for example, doesn’t change the fact that he left me over and over again in one of the most vulnerable times of my childhood. Forgiving my mother for being mentally ill doesn’t change the fact that she suffered from schizophrenia. And forgiving my husband who beat me mentally and physically doesn’t change his actions towards me.


You see forgiveness is not about their actions. Forgiveness never changes the story. Forgiveness does not let them off the hook for what they did to you. AND forgiveness does not mean you have to reconcile the relationship. That is a different topic for another day.


In order to exercise forgiveness, it’s important that you understand what forgiveness really is, and what you are forgiving.


Matthew 6:14 (NAS)

14 For if you forgive other people for their [a]offenses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.


Ephesians 4:32 (NAS)

32 Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven [a]you.


Forgiveness is a command by our Heavenly Father to forgive others because He has forgiven us. The first thing that walking in forgiveness does is it keeps us in right relationship with God. Having a forgiving heart opens the channels of God’s mercy and grace to flow through us to others.


When you forgive someone, you are not forgiving them for their action. Forgiving them doesn’t change what they did. You are forgiving them for the consequences that you experienced because of their action. I forgave my dad for the abandonment I felt because of his constant departure from his family responsibilities. I forgave my mother for the anxiety and insecurity I experienced because of her wrath towards me. I forgave my ex-husband for the trauma I experienced and distrust I was about to carry into my next relationship.

I also had to forgive myself for acting codependently, feeling responsible for other people’s choices, and lacking boundaries that healthy relationships possess.


You see, forgiveness is more for you than the other person. It changes your heart and mind. When I forgave my dad for the abandonment I felt, I didn’t carry feelings of abandonment into my next relationship. When I forgave my mom, I was able to have trusting, intimate relationships with other women.  When I forgave my ex for the lack of trust it caused me to experience, I began to trust again.


I learned that forgiveness is for me – not them. Forgiveness breaks the chain that binds me to the individual that hurt me, and they stop living rent free in my head. Forgiveness allows me to set them free to find their own relationship with God and allow Him to change their heart and mind. I’m not responsible for what happens in their lives; that’s between them and God. Their judgment will come from Him – not me.


In order to properly forgive, you have to take the time to assess what happened to you because of their actions, and then you can step through the forgiveness process, knowing what you are forgiving.


Unforgiveness weaved a tangled web in our lives and relationships. Forgiveness was designed by God to set us free us from those entanglements.

Forgiveness releases you from the desire to get revenge on the person who hurt you.


Releasing betrayal and embracing forgiveness changed my life. It helped me to live authentically, free from condemnation of the past, free to embrace vulnerability in new relationships. Releasing betrayal and embracing forgiveness allowed me to love again. My husband of 22 years has been the light of my life, and we have been on a journey of letting Jesus be the constant thread in our marriage. The result has been a life of love, and a life of serving others in ministry. It’s amazing what God can do when you surrender your will to His.


If you have experienced any kind of betrayal in your past, take the time to assess the damage, and take the steps of forgiveness to keep your heart and mind free.  Take the time to receive the free gift that God has given you – the gift of forgiveness.

I would love to hear from you – drop me an email at and let me know your ideas for future podcasts.


Thanks for listening to Celebrating God’s Grace. Join us for podcasts each Monday, Wednesday and Friday as we explore together God’s extravagant love and your courageous purpose. Visit our website at to submit a prayer request, register for an upcoming event, and support the ministry. From His heart to yours, we are Women World Leaders. All content is copyrighted by Women World Leaders and cannot be used without express written consent.