8 April, Wednesday – When friendships are taken for granted

Wednesday of Holy Week

Isa 50:4-9a
Mt 26:14-25

One of you will betray me.

First and foremost, I want to give glory to God. He sees and knows everything! In October last year, we planned and booked our trip to Italy. Who knew back then that life would be turned upside down due to COVID-19? Nonetheless, in the midst of escalating fears around the world, we made it to Italy and back! Save for a cancelled visit to Milan, everything went as planned. We arrived home on 8 March. A few days later, all of Italy went into lockdown mode. Singapore also issued a travel advisory for mandatory 14 day ‘stay home notice’ (SHN) for those who travelled to Italy a few days after we returned. There was a lot of confusion as to whether we would be issued this notice, but as it turned out, we weren’t. Nonetheless, we took care to stay home during this period and avoid large group gatherings during this time.

While the trip to Italy was beautiful – the sights, scenery, food, no maddening crowds; this trip surfaced a ‘wound’ in me. An old wound of rejection, betrayal and of being taken for granted. I didn’t realise it at first, but my interactions with a friend during this trip brought out a lot of anger and resentment in me. This person has always been my ‘bugbear’. I have invested a lot of time and effort to cultivate this friendship. I just gave and gave. But I feel that my generosity was being taken for granted. I felt used, like a pawn. This trip reinforced the fact that my friendship meant little or nothing to this said person. So, if I was already aware of this, why did it surprise me that I felt angry and upset? Why did I react that way? Was there a deeper reason?

I reflected upon this and processed these feelings. This surfaced many other events and people that caused me pain and betrayal, wounds that I thought I had forgotten. And as I went deeper, I realised that these feeling stemmed from my relationship with my father and words he said to me as I was growing up, and his expectations of me. I resented these expectations, because my father certainly didn’t perform his role as a father to warrant any expectations of me. I was a pawn for my father. Just as I was a pawn for my ‘friend’. Ouch, that hurt. I feel betrayed and the wounds are once again raw.

People will ask you to hold them through their darkness, and let go of your hand as soon as they find the light.

Perhaps it’s this season, when everything has also come to a halt. When everything I knew as ‘normal’ then, isn’t so normal now. Perhaps it’s God’s way of pushing the reset button, to unravel all that I have buried so that that He can heal; to finally heal the deep and raw parts of the wound, so that I am once again well and free to receive all that He has in store for me.

That led me to think of Judas. Judas had already decided to betray Jesus, yet He still treated Judas as a close friend. What people will do for money, power or recognition! Judas is not alone. What he did is happening every day. Perhaps I, too, have betrayed and handed over Jesus more than once. Betrayal is most painful when it is someone near and dear. So Judas’ betrayal would have caused Jesus immense pain. He knows the solemn declarations of the others are mere empty words. In the midst of the crisis, all the disciples would abandon him. It wasn’t his enemies that handed Jesus over, it was one of the 12.

“Surely it is not I, Lord?”

If Jesus were to tell us today “one of you will betray me”, would we also react like the disciples? Yet how many times have we betrayed him? Yet, the love of Jesus is so unconditional that He continues to love you and me, despite the countless times we let go of his hands, the times that we threw him to the dogs. The times we ignored Him.

I have so often betrayed Jesus, so often broken bread with Jesus and perhaps I may have sold him for money, out of ambition, out of greed, out of fear, anger, hatred, or revenge or for my own personal gain.

We can, like Judas, either abandon him in despair or, like Peter, come back to him with tears of repentance. Can we continue to love our fellow brothers and sisters, the way Jesus loves us?

I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: Jesus, forgive me for the many times I betrayed you. For giving You up. For ignoring You because of my own selfish ambitions, greed, fear and anger. Yet, despite all that I have done, You continue to love me.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus, for never giving up on me.  Thank you for loving me, for seeking me!

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