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Does it make sense to pursue rest when you are flooded with the trauma of betrayal? Experiencing the disloyalty of another person is painful and disorienting, maybe more than any other life event. Is rest even possible given the chaotic disruption to your sense of peaceful well-being?
Have you ever seen a dog chase its tail? So much energy is spent pursuing a goal that remains unattainable. It’s fun to watch unless you’re the one going in circles.
What is the worst traumatic experience you’ve been through? If you can’t think of anything, you are either very lucky or very disconnected from reality. How easy or hard was it for you to rest in the days and weeks after the trauma occurred?
Or maybe you are in the middle of trying to recover from a horrifying event. It has left you locked into an unending sense of discouragement, distress, or despair. Your thoughts speed around a racetrack, circling ever faster but generating only mental exhaustion.
After being traumatized, it is normal to become disillusioned and want to know why life can be so confusing and difficult. Why did that bad thing happen? Why did you make an unhealthy choice? Why does there seem to be no way forward?
Trust to Find Rest
These questions are all signs of life. You are seeking some deeper answer, meaning, or connection with God. There is good news: answers exist that bring hope instead of despair. But the answers usually come in the context of a growing trust in God, rather than an immediate blessing of good fortune and circumstances.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV
Don’t try to solve problems that are “beyond your pay grade.” Trusting in God brings instant relief (Isaiah 26:3). Try it. Think of something you are anxious about. Now tell God you trust Him. Even if you have to imagine you are trusting Him, it helps. The burden shifts off your shoulders and onto God’s.
I’m not saying your relief will be complete, instantaneous, and permanent. You can experience an overall peace while simultaneously agonizing and grieving.
When God asks you to trust Him, He means at all times–whether your circumstances are pleasant or heart-breaking. You can experience betrayal and still look to God for security.
God wants us to:
- believe He is good while experiencing pain
- live in the reality of heaven even while experiencing a cursed earth
How you experience life depends on how you prioritize your perspective. Are you focused on your pain or on your God? Are you caught in a loop of trying to escape something you cannot change? Are you caught believing a temporary circumstance is permanent? If so, I have a prayer for you.
Pray to Find Rest
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will; so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next.
This prayer is profound. It shares a lot in common with Proverbs 3. Most people stop with the first sentence. But the second sentence contains the secret to finding rest: acceptance and trust. What are some ways you can adjust your expectations of life, creating some space for you to rest in God’s understanding?
Be patient with yourself as you work through betrayal and learn to trust. You can’t heal in isolation. You need to know someone is hearing your pain.
Matt Pavlik is a licensed professional clinical counselor who wants to see each individual restored to their true identity. He has more than 20 years of experience counseling individuals and couples at his Christian counseling practice, New Reflections Counseling. Matt and Georgette have been married since 1999 and live with their four children in Centerville, Ohio.