“and endure the betrayal of false friends”
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden, a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
This may be one of the difficult recommendations that Emerson poses to us. In my own lifetime, I do not know of many things that have ripped my heart out and tortured my soul more than the betrayal of a friend—or employee (whom I love as friends).
People to whom you have given time, knowledge, heart and soul may leave you; may lie to you; may betray you; a friend, a family member, an employee, a significant other or a spouse. And the “wondering why” is heart wrenching and challenging. You may ask yourself, “what did I do—or not do?” “”How could they look in my face and lie when I have cared so much for them?” “How could they leave me when I needed them so badly?” and on and on.
Trust is innocently given by some people and rarely given by others. When a person gains or gives trust, they are giving an intimate part of their soul to another. To have the soul—the innermost part of a human being—betrayed is a painful loss and difficult to overcome.
Can a person ever earn back the trust of someone who has betrayed them? I think so. They can grow personally and may find that the relationship grows, as well. Time can heal. But the relationship will never be the same. However, if it endures, it can be better. Trust is cautiously given in the first place. Trust is more cautiously given after a betrayal. If the “friend” is a “false friend” as Emerson notes, then realize that someone has a problem—but that person is not you. Your inner strength will be challenged, but you will endure when you learn from the experience, validate yourself where appropriate, and gain wisdom.
If someone betrays another, no matter how much a person may “justify” their behavior in their own mind’s eye, a part of their own soul has been sacrificed.
Be careful in your life and in your relationships. Be honest with the people with whom you live and work. Even though honesty can be difficult to give and receive, it is more ethically, morally, and spiritually beneficial to be honest than to betray another.