Not too long ago I found out someone I considered to be a close friend has been extremely ugly towards me behind my back. I know that sounds childish however apparently such things do occur in adulthood. I do choose my close friends wisely, but I try to be a genuine and authentic friend. I try to be a good friend to her. I pray for her. I check in on her. I care about her well being. But another friend of ours clued me into the fact that those feelings are not mutual. And went as far to warn me to approach our friendship with caution because she was not a friend to me behind my back.
And as much as I would love to say this discovery did not bother me, it really did. It hurt. It hurt similarly to how it hurts in childhood when you find out girls are gossiping behind your back. I haven’t really experienced this level of two-faced betrayal as an adult. I really thought this kind of behavior was something people outgrew. I’m not flawless and have certainly said unkind things behind someone’s back however it is rare for me to share something behind your back that I haven’t also said to your face. I don’t shy away from letting people know where they stand with me, or at least I try very hard to live by this practice. In general people know where they stand with me and I put distance between myself and people I don’t consider friends. Most of the time, the boundaries are clear for me.
As I let these feelings of hurt and betrayal fester in my heart, I decided I had to find a way to let go of the hurt and move past it. And I found my way through the Cross. Jesus experienced deep betrayal on the cross and HE KNEW all of it ahead of time. He knew Judas would betray Him. He knew Peter would deny Him. He knew they would crucify Him. And yet He was kind. He was loving. He was ministering. He took the time to fellowship and stay close to them. He asked God to forgive them for torturing and killing him while in the midst of them mocking him.
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. The people stood watching, and the ruler sneer at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” The soldiers also came up and mocked him.
So in the Spirit of the cross, I decided I would continue praying and caring for this friend. I may guard my heart a little more but I would still demonstrate loving behavior. I would be true to the type of friend God has called me to be and not let the ugly behavior of someone else tempt my heart to harbor hurt and anger. Because Jesus knew and yet He was still kind and loving. He knew and He still went to the cross. There is plenty of ugliness in the world and what we need is more of the love demonstrated at the cross.
Betrayal, hurt and a Cross,
Note: The opinions and feelings expressed in this blog are solely that of the author and does not in any way reflect the opinions of or represent any employer, organization or academic affiliation to whom the author may be associated with currently or in the past.
It’s not even a month into a new year and already my calendar is full and most of my time day to day is accounted for between a demanding job and a demanding home life. I’m projecting a very busy 2023 with several trips already on the books. And although I’ve been longing for the excitement of a busy family schedule that includes trips and dare I say vacations, I also realize how quickly our life (and sin) can steal our time, space and room for God.
I started the year off with a lingering chest cold that really zapped my energy level. As I quickly approach my 40th birthday, I’m learning the body doesn’t handle a lot of things quite as well as it does when you are in your 20s or 30s. And illness is on that list. The lingering illness combined with a rocky start to the year at work, I found myself in a need of extra rest. I justified the need for rest as necessary for my health and well-being but I also allowed that rest to cut into the time I sat aside for God each day. The time and space I normally spend with God was gone. I allowed the habit of getting an extra 30 minutes of sleep to overpower the habit of resting in His Word and taking my burdens to His feet. No matter how many times I fall into the temptation of cutting into time and space reserved for God, I never seem to learn that life always goes better when I hold time and space for God without exception.
This week I had a hard deadline for a work project. Deadlines don’t really work when your day-to-day schedule is meeting after appointment after meeting and you have no time to actually work on projects or deadlines. As the deadline approached, one morning I got up extra early to knock out the work before my scheduled day officially started. As I sat down with my cup of coffee and work computer, I realized I had no issues cutting into my “need for extra rest” for my job, but somehow I couldn’t do it for God. This realization stopped me dead in my tracks. I immediately closed the work computer and opened my Bible. I found myself turning to the book of Psalm because what better place to land when you are angry or ashamed than in the Psalms. I picked Psalm 10 to read only because I’m using a new planner and it gives you a recommended Bible reading each day. I knew that recommended reading would be shorter and require less time than my normal reading plan. I’m ashamed to admit that now but that’s the brutal truth as to why I picked Psalm 10. No doubt this was divine intervention, to nudge me on such a day that Psalm 10 would be the “shortcut” reading for my day.
Why, LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises. He boasts about the cravings of his heart; he blesses the greedy and reviles the LORD. In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.
God doesn’t hide Himself during times of trouble. However, God gives us free will and we have to invite him into our space. We are told multiple times throughout Scripture that if we seek Him, we will find Him. I realized through Psalm 10 that I have allowed Satan to use a busy schedule and all sorts of other circumstances to make me feel justified to leave no room for God in my day to day life. And isn’t that just how Satan works? He threads the lie with partial truths.
I have been ill.
You do need extra rest when you are ill.
I am getting older.
Your body doesn’t recover as quickly.
I do have a lot of demands as a mom.
All of that is true. But none of those truths, supersede my need for God. None of those justify not leaving room for God day-to-day. I find room for lots of less important activities including social media, television, relaxing, etc. I allowed pride in being able to do life without God, to eliminate the time, space and room for God in my life. When I thought of what to cut out, I didn’t cut out the least. I cut out what I needed the most. It doesn’t even make sense as I reflect on it because I know better. It’s a great example of the battle of good and evil that takes place inside a believer’s heart. It’s a great example of the deceitful tricks Satan uses to distract us from what really matters in life. It’s Satan’s pathetic attempts to steal us from God.
For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.
In that moment, sitting at my kitchen counter with a closed laptop, open Bible and couple of coffee, Psalm 10 turned into a prayer asking for forgiveness and a realization that I always need to leave room for God.
Time, space and room,
Just a few reflections about everything God is teaching me in this life...a journey deeper into His purpose for my life.