Sunday, September 30, 2007

Hanging with Judas

I have an eclectic group of friends. Or, I should say, groups of friends. Yet within each one, we keep talking about trust issues and friends who betray us. I've been struggling with that a lot lately. Not as in being the betrayer, but as in being betrayed. I kind of got mad at God about it, wondering how, yet again, I open up to trust someone, and I get stabbed in the back. So in conversations with these friends, I find they're all in the same place with someone else. Wondering how and why they let themselves get suckered in to a friendship that took so much out of them.

I've done a lot of traveling lately, and I'm finding the plane is a great place to read the Bible. So God and I have been using that time to chat about some things. He pointed out something interesting I hadn't ever realized before. Judas. We all know about Judas, and how he betrayed Jesus. What hit me, though, is that Jesus KNEW what Judas was going to do. I don't know at what point he knew, but can you imagine, knowing someone would betray you and allowing them to be one of your closest friends anyway? Jesus could have picked any number of people to be among the twelve. He didn't have to pick the guy who'd sell him out. But he did.

It had to take a lot of love to choose someone who ended up harming you. It had to take a lot of love to live with the knowledge of future betrayal and treat him no differently than the faithful ones. Even if Jesus didn't know until that night, it still took a lot of love to humble himself and wash the feet of a man who helped sign his death warrant.

I wish I had that kind of love.

Right now, my stomach is in knots. My heart aches. And I feel like the dumbest person in the world for letting someone treat me like this. I get angry every time I hear her name. Every time I see her doing what I suspect can only be what she'd done to me, to someone else. I hate how much I dislike this person. I hate how little she cares. I hate how after all we've been through, she can pretend I don't exist. I hate how, to my knowledge, I have done nothing to her, she acts like I am the worst of all enemies. I hate how, despite my attempts to talk to her about it, she pretends nothing is wrong.

There's a lot of ugliness in me right now. A friend of mine was describing similar ugliness in her heart, and I thought, yeah, I know that feeling. I have it too. The hate and rage just boils inside me.

Except that isn't what Jesus did. Maybe he thought about what Judas would look like, drawn and quartered, the stench of his burning intestines filling the air. But probably not. He just loved Judas.

Lord, make me more like you, because I certainly don't know how to love the Judas in my life.

Sunday, September 09, 2007


I know, I posted this on my other blog, but you know, I think unforgiveness is at the root of having enemies. If we truly learned to forgive, would we have enemies?

Lately, I've been in a cloud of depression and doubt over a lot of things in my life. Oddly enough, it's been a good thing, because God has been revealing a lot to me about some of the things in my life holding me back. He's also been showing me areas where my motivations are less than pure. There's a lot of ugliness brewing inside me, and I could never understand why. Why this negative follows me around. Why, despite everything, I'm still struggling on a lot of levels.

Today, I woke up early, which is unusual because I'm not a morning person, and I've also been so tired lately that sleep is all I want to do. I'd planned on making my family a nice breakfast, but God kept putting on my heart that I needed to do something else. I simplified, and went to sit down at my computer. I thought it was because I was supposed to write. I got another feeling at the back of my mind to turn on the TV. So I did. A friend of mine loves Charles Stanley. I haven't gotten into him so much, but for whatever reason, he came to mind. Oddly enough, for a Sunday, there were no church type programs on TV. It was all paid programming. And then, sandwiched between a couple of them, was a Charles Stanley program. So I started watching it half-heartedly. He was talking about unforgiveness.

As he spoke, I realized that a lot of the things he talked about were a lot of the things God has been talking to me about lately. There are so many negative things in my past. So many wrongs. When I see a positive thing in my future, I subconsciously begin to self-destruct. I find it impossible to believe that the good I'm seeking is for real. I'm still hanging on to the negative memories. I honestly struggle with believing the good others have to say about me. Last night, I was talking with a CP about my writing, and she said some amazingly wonderful things to me about what she thought of it. All I could think was, "she's just being nice." I have a wonderful opportunity to submit and all I can think about is the negatives about my writing.

When I look back at my attitude towards her, I have to laugh because she is the sweetest person on the planet, and she's not the sort to say I'm a good writer if she doesn't think I am. She's not the kind of person who'd lie to make someone else feel better. And yet, there's this huge block in my heart that refuses to possibly believe that I could be a good writer. I am so conditioned to believe the negative, which only feeds the unforgiving spirit that is growing inside me. When I read contest scores, all I see is the negative. I keep waiting in expectation that suddenly, all the masks are going to be ripped away and finally the world will see me for the terrible person that I am. The bad writer I am. The bad mother I am.

And then I listen to Charles Stanley's message today. I realized that I am in bondage. The spirit of unforgiveness has me so tightly bound that I can't see anything clearly about myself. I've spent a lifetime believing lies about myself. I haven't been able to forgive myself for a lot of things, most of which are pretty silly. Pretty much any time I fail to be perfect, I hold it against myself. I can recount all the times where I've failed to meet the standard and use it as evidence as why I'm so bad. I remember all the things others have done to wrong me. More evidence as to why I'm unworthy. I can't forgive them, and I can't forgive me.

As God's been revealing this to me, I know it's holding me back in every area of my life. Success eludes me because this horrible oppressive spirit has kept me from believing it possible. Interestingly enough, my mind is warped enough to think that if I finally achieve success, despite all the negative, I can finally thumb my nose at all the baddies and say, "see! I'm not the horrible creature you made me out to be." ICK. What messed up thinking. I don't need success to prove that. More importantly, I don't need anything to prove it. Jesus says so.

What struck me as most powerful from the message today is this rough quote: "When a person who is a believer is unforgiving, they are out of character." I've been trying so hard to be instep with Jesus and live life as a Christian, and yet, I've completely missed it. I am out of character. There is a huge chasm between me and God and I've been unable to see it until now. Of all the things that disturb me, this is the most important. Yes, I want great things for my life. Yes, I want success. Yes, I want to minister to others. Yes, I want to be published. But none of that means anything if I don't have Jesus.

So please pray for me, that this spirit of unforgiveness would be defeated. That I would be able to clearly see God's truth. And that God would continue to reveal the things separating me from Him and empower me to overcome them so I can walk alongside Him with confidence. I'd also like prayer for forgiveness. I don't even know where to begin or how to forgive, especially because so much of it is layered deep in my life. It's not just one person or one incident, but so many things, things I don't think I've even begun to identify.

As I wrote this, I debated a lot about who to share it with, and whether or not I wanted it to go to the loop. But God keeps putting on my heart that I need to be open about this, and that there are others I can minster to through my struggles. But also, I tend to try to do a lot more on my own than I should. One of the big lies I've been believing is that I'm alone and I know that's not true.

If you are interested in hearing Charles Stanley's message, you can download it for free on iTunes.

Thanks so much for your prayers.