When it was evening, Jesus sat down at the table with the Twelve. While they were eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.” Matthew 26: 20-21
What causes someone to betray another? Did Jesus know when he recruited Judas to his inner circle of disciples that he was the one who would betray him? Was Judas’ heart pure and then somehow turned evil? Or was he of bad intent from the beginning?
The story of the last supper and of Jesus’ betrayal leave us with more questions than answers. Speculating about the tendencies of human nature, though, can offer some insight on boundaries and how to weather the storms of pain in relationships.
Being rooted in God’s love for us and seeing ourselves and beloved children of God does not prevent hurt in our lives even when we are aware of setting boundaries proactively.
When I was twenty, I went through a very precious time of reconnection with God. My father was dying of cancer and I found strength and hope inside the church in ways I had not felt it before. It was the summer before my junior year of college and I was ready to change the world. Through a series of ‘divine coincidences’ I met a man who was from a missionary family. We quickly started dating, got engaged, I dropped out of college and we were going to enroll in missions school in Texas.
Nevermind that he was not fully in alignment with his faith when we met. He had dropped out of high school, was unemployed and really had nothing going for him except for the fact that I overlooked all of it because his family was wonderful and they loved me. How could someone from a missionary family be anything but good?
I left my family’s church and began attending their church with them on the south side of Chicago. All the while my father kept warning me, “April, Mike is not who he says he is.” He saw it. I did not. I refused to see the warning signs.
To name a few: he had convinced me to drop out of college, he took me away from my friends, he was controlling and manipulative, he told me I was fat, and eventually became argumentative and abusive. It ended with a broken engagement and a restraining order.
I was betrayed. I felt beaten down and stupid. How could I have not seen this all along?
Jesus and Judas. Did He see warning signs along the way? Did He know before the last supper that Judas wasn’t who he pretended to be? Or was that revealed to Jesus only at the very end?
Even with the best of intentions we can let someone inside our inner circle and pour ourselves into them and in the end be hurt. And it doesn’t mean that we did anything wrong it simply means that people are people.
First ask yourself if you are of pure intentions in your relationships. Guard your heart and don’t allow it to lead you astray because of greed, pride, lust or other base motives.
Second forgive yourself if you have allowed someone into your trusted triangle who has betrayed you. Even with an awareness of healthy boundaries and self-love sometimes we can’t see someones true nature until time has passed and the relationship has been established and the tides begin to turn. If you’re in a situation where someone you once trusted and loved has turned toxic it’s time to let go. Acknowledge the hurt and know that it is not your job to change their heart towards you.
Judas did what he did for a mere 30 pieces of silver. In the end, he knew what he did was wrong, went back to the priests remorsefully and said he had betrayed an innocent man. With the utmost guilt he threw the pieces of silver, ran out and went and hung himself. I believe that God turned his heart and he saw the horror of what he had done.
Know that God can speak to anyone. Hearts can change. However, it is not your job to stick around and wait for the miracle. Let people deal with their own hearts and once you have a clear picture of who someone you once thought was pure has revealed their true nature believe it.
When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. – Maya Angelou
Day 7 Lenten Love Prayer:
Who can understand the power of your love? Even you had to go through the pain of betrayal. How can it be? Help me to believe the best in others and also to believe the facts when someone shows me who they really are. Give me the courage to let go. Bring strong people into my life who can speak words of comfort and wisdom to me and give me the heart to believe them. I don’t want to live in ignorance. I want to be of maximum service to you. May I learn what I need to learn from toxic relationships, if and when they creep into my life, and help me to recognize that it is not of my doing and that You have the power to deal with their heart. My job is to trust you and set healthier tighter boundaries with that person. Give me the strength to move on and the grace to forgive myself. Thank you for showing me, through your life, that however painful it is, betrayal is sometimes a part of life. I will not lose faith during these times but will lean in to your love. Thank you that You will never leave me or forsake me.
Day 7 Scripture:
Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
RESOURCES: If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship please seek help today. It will get worse, never better. The National Domestic Abuse confidential hotline is 1−800−799−7233. They will absolutely help.