Wednesday – April 16, 2014

John 13:21-30

21 After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.” 22 The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. 23 One of his disciples—the one whom Jesus loved—was reclining next to him; 24 Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. 25 So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. 27 After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “Do quickly what you are going to do.” 28 Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. 29 Some thought that, because Judas had the common purse, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the festival”; or, that he should give something to the poor. 30 So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.

Those of us who became single parents due to a divorce or a relationship that ended badly (and to be honest, few end well), may be able to identify with how Jesus might have felt when he realized that his close friend Judas was going to deliver him into the hands of his enemies.
This sense of betrayal can be devastating…

As for us, we could feel betrayed by a former spouse or partner who might have cheated on us (with another person or with a destructive behavior), abused us, or just plain showed us disrespect, or it could that we felt betrayed by our former in-laws, or even our own family members who just couldn’t understand why the relationship had to end…why we could not just “hang in there and make it work”.

To be honest there may also be times when we can feel betrayed by our own children. Right or wrong, when our children are young and need us all the time we can feel put out because we simply do not have time for ourselves, as we have had to sacrifice what we wanted in favor of what was best for them; however, even though we know this is just part of being a parent it is not unusual to feel some resentment at our situation…although we most likely do not like feeling this way, and would have a hard time admitting this to anyone else.

Then, when our kids become teenagers we can feel additional betrayal if our once sweet sons or daughters become rebellious and instead of looking up to us, spend more time scowling down at us, or if they get caught up in behavior we feel is unhealthy and that we do not approve of.
Sadly, this is all part of life’s rich pageant.

However, the picture may not be as grim as it can appear…

In many cases the relationships that ended were beyond dysfunctional and we had to move on, and we and our children are better off because of it.
Although we have had to sacrifice some of our time, our hopes, and a few of our ambitions in order to be better parents for our children, this is not really a loss…instead, we can see this as a gain. I know that my plans changed because of being a single parent, and while I did not get to do all that I had once wanted to do, I did get to do something really amazing with my life: I got to raise my daughter, and form a bond with her that I never dreamed possible (to be honest I often wondered if I could handle being a parent at all – single or otherwise).

What I gained by being a single parent far out-weighed any sacrifices I made while raising my daughter.

The bond I formed with her also helped me to manage when she became a rebellious teenager (which is not all that unusual, as it can be part of the process of growing up and pulling away from parents…letting go of the apron strings, and getting out on their own), allowing us to stay close despite the turmoil, fighting, heartache and hurt feelings…beneath it all we still knew that we loved each other!

The often well-meaning family members who just didn’t get why we had to leave a bad relationship can be helped to understand, as their protests can lead to frank and honest conversations that allow them to see the truth…as it is hard to know what is going on the inside of a relationship when looking at it from the outside; and these conversations can foster understanding which can help us to grow closer to our loved ones.

Jesus was betrayed by Judas, a man he considered to be like a brother to him. This betrayal had to have hurt him deeply; however, this betrayal did turn out to be part of the plan…for while it led to Jesus’ arrest and subsequent execution on the cross, it also led to the triumph of the resurrection!! After all, there had to be a Good Friday in order for there to be an Easter…and Good Friday could not have happened without Judas’ betrayal!

So also do some of the worst times in our lives lead to new beginnings, and new understandings about ourselves, others and our relationship with God, and can also lead to the discovery of new reservoirs of strength and faith that we did not know we had. Sometimes it is only when times are toughest that I have been able to get through my natural reluctance to ask for help and actually reach out to others for support…and when I have done this it has made all the difference.

By now, as an adult and as a single parent, I think it is safe for me to assumption that life is not always fair…and that we can sometimes be hurt by the ones we love or have once loved and trusted. However, the good news is that God is always fair, and through Christ has promised to walk with us throughout our lives, giving us love and support…both directly and through the people in our lives who show us compassion, and with whom we share our faith.

And it is through this faith that we share that we are able to act as Christ to the world, and to forgive those who we felt have done us any wrongs (whether we feel our resentment is justified or not), remembering that forgiveness does not mean that what happened was okay…but it does mean that we will let go of our resentments and move on.

We are called to forgive as God forgives us…

God loves us and will never betray us or leave us, and although life can sometimes be unfair, that it is never God’s will that we suffer, or are in pain…and Easter is the proof of this…as the Resurrection is a sign that God wants to be one with us, and only wants the best for us! In this way God is like we are with our children, as we too only want them to be happy, joyous and free!

Let us Pray

God, thank you for always being with us…always being fair and for surrounding us with your grace. Let us remember while there are times when people will let us down, even those we love…even our children, and sometimes even ourselves…you will never betray us, or leave us. Let us show forgiveness to those who have wronged us…including for ourselves. Please help us to find the ‘silver-lining’ in any situation, the hope to get through those times when we feel betrayed, or that life is not fair, allowing us to see that the light of Easter shines through even our darkest days to give us hope.

Amen

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