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Overcome Past Hurts and Begin to Trust Again

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Author, latest: Beyond Betrayal (Harvest House, 2020) 

Founder and CEO, Phil Waldrep Ministries, est. 1980 

Host of the Women of Joy, Gridiron, and Celebrators conferences with nearly 60 thousand annual attendees 


B.S., University of Alabama, and M.A. Luther Rice College & Seminary 

Married to Debbie, two married daughters, four grandchildren

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Sitting in his office on a particularly busy Tuesday in 2000,  Phil was told, “some men are here to see you.”   Two federal law enforcement agents informed Phil they were investigating a money-laundering scheme, and that one of his employees was a person of interest.  Phil was shocked.

Three months later, the agents reported that the employee, also Phil’s longtime friend, was cleared of involvement in the scheme, though still, the man was not someone to be trusted.  Stunned, Phil started his own investigation, pouring over his friend’s company expense reports and long-distance phone records.  When he checked with certain clients listed on travel records, he found that some meetings never took place.  He called some of the numbers on the phone records and discovered they belonged to women unassociated with the ministry, some of whom hung up quickly.  Phil finally confronted his friend, who admitted he was involved in multiple adulterous relationships and had used ministry funds to see them.  He then asked Phil’s forgiveness for his behavior.  Phil decided to give him another chance and arranged for him to see a counselor.  The man seemed to be doing great for several months.  Then Phil learned that he’d stopped seeing the counselor after the first few meetings.  When he asked his friend about it this time, he was defensive, insulting, and told Phil that if he fired him, he’d ruin his reputation.  Phil couldn’t believe his ears!  Though deeply hurt, Phil still loved his friend and the next day told him that he’d let him resign to save them both embarrassment.  While the matter seemed resolved, Phil was left to grapple with tremendous pain, humiliation, and anger for many years.  

Though Phil told people he had moved on from the incident, privately, it became a cancer that consumed his thought and emotional life.  It left him wondering how he could have been duped, and who else might be trying to betray him.  Thoughts crossed his mind like, “Maybe I am stupid,” “I guess I am gullible,” and, of course, the big question:  “Why did he betray me?”  After much thought and good counsel, Phil answers that question this way:  “The answer is simple.  People betray you because they are selfish.  They put their interests and wants ahead of you.  They may hope you aren’t hurt but, if you are, so be it.”  Phil says that the initial shock gave way to deep pain, and then isolation, as people tired of hearing him rehash the situation.  Trust with other people started to erode.  “Alone is not only no way to live,” Phil says, “but it also keeps you from healing.”   Finally, he was left with a deep-seated anger that affected all his realtionships and his very identity.  “Anger isn’t wrong,” he ways, “but it is a warning sign that something is not right in your world.  Unexpressed and unprocessed anger and emotions have a way of coming out in all the wrong ways and making what we really should be addressing.”  Eventually, Phil got help to  learn how to deal with all he was feeling.  

Phil took the advice of a counselor to write out his thoughts and emotions in order to identify, express, and deal with them.  He found this practice extremely helpful and recommends it to everyone. He was also counseled that he needed to work on forgiving his friend, whether or not the man ever asked for it.  “Forgiveness means I am going to give up my right to punish you for what you did to me in the past,” he learned.  Forgiving his friend wasn’t a one-time choice, he found, but a daily one for quite some time.  The ability to do so came from God.  Praying for strength and for his friend helped greatly.  Phil also came to understand that forgiveness doesn’t mean someone gets off the hook for doing wrong, or that one has to trust the person who betrayed him.  The more Phil looked to the Lord for healing, the more he realized he could love his friend, even though he no longer had contact with him.  “We need to remember that grace welcomes the betrayer home.  Grace prepares a feast, celebrates the betrayer’s return …”  Phil has not had contact with his friend since he left the company in 2000, but he would love to sit down and talk with him if given the opportunity.  Recently, Phil took special note of a piece of navy blue pottery in a shop.  The piece had clearly been broken and glued back back together with a thick, gold-tinted glue.  He learned it was a Japanese technique called kintsugi, which results in pieces of art considered more beautiful than the original pieces.  Phil says that concept is a perfect visual representation of a betrayed person who has fully healed.  He keeps a piece of kintsugi on his desk to this day as a reminder.  

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