grace

The Eye of Betrayal

Betrayal – possibly one of the most difficult feelings to experience. We all know the feeling and hope it isn’t the ones closest to us that make us feel betrayed as those can cut the deepest. It’s a loss of trust, an unfulfillment of expectations, a deep pain. Sometimes it can feel inescapable. Trying to figure out how to respond is always the challenge. Betrayal brings with it feelings of sadness and anger, which, if left to simmer, can lead to resentment, fear, and hate. Betrayal is a storm that can consume us, but in the eye of the storm we can find peace, reclaim dignity, and respond with love.
  
When the storms of betrayal come, God calls us to simply be still. Our only job, our only mission, and our only desire should be to be still and let Him love us.  Let Him envelop us in His perfect love. Let him hold us in His arms, rest with Him, and let His love fill every part of our being to make us whole again. Let the love He pours out heal us. Do nothing else until He has filled you with His love. All we should do is find Him in the eye of the storm of betrayal.
  

Hold me Lord. I am on a boat, surrounded by the storm. The waves are crashing in and the winds are blowing the boat out of control. I cannot stop it. It overcomes me and I am lost in this spinning darkness with no escape. I cry out, begging for it to stop but the storm offers no relief. I am in pain, the pain of a deep betrayal that tears me apart from the inside out.
  
Then I see you lying in the boat – sleeping. Sleeping as though we are not at risk of death. I wonder how can you sleep through the painful winds that tear at me and the waves that consume me? How can you be at peace when there is so much sadness, anger, and pain? Let me be in your calm presence in this storm. Let me rest in your arms and be held in your peace. The storm outside this boat is set to destroy me but you are here with me. Let me rest in you. And you say to me
  
Don’t you know how precious you are? Don’t you know that I am always with you? Don’t you know that I am all you need? That when the storms in your life feel like waves crashing in and winds are blowing around you, I am the eye of the storm. I am the calm. I am the peace. I will sustain you. Don’t you know how much I love you? Come rest with me. Trust in me. Surrender the pain and the storm to me. Surrender the pain so I can heal you. I will protect you through this storm and see you to safety, back to the calm waters. Let your soul be still and do not worry.
  
Let the storm do as it wills. Let the waves crash and the winds blow. Let the storm tear the boat apart. Know that you cannot control the storm; you cannot control all situations, and you cannot control those in your life. Know that though the pain you feel may bring the storms of betrayal, I will be there, right in the middle of it, to give you rest.
  
I love you and you are mine. Let me love you in your pain. Let me make you whole. Let me heal you. Let your healing and your peace in me permeate the storm. Let my healing allow you to forgive and to extend my mercy. Rest and find comfort in my love and once you are filled with my healing, peace, and love let it overflow from your soul. For it is through extending my love and mercy that the stormy waters will calm and the winds will die down.
  
Graciously respond to the one who hurt you with peace and love. Do not give in to the temptation to fight the storm. Surrender the pain and unite it to the cross. I know the pain of betrayal. I know the temptation to respond with anger. I know the desire to dwell on the situation. I was betrayed by my friend and put to death because of that betrayal. I was tempted too. I know how hard it is to feel betrayed by one that you love. I was called to let love and mercy flow.
  
Respond with graciousness, love, mercy, and peace to bring healing from the storm. Look to me resting in the boat in the middle of the storm and unite with me so you may also be the peace in the storm of betrayal. You cannot control the storm. You cannot control the betrayal. You cannot control others. So pour out love for another as a gift.  By responding in love you extend the eye of the storm and you calm the angry waters. Each time you respond with love and mercy, let the calm in the eye of the storm of betrayal extend further. Let that person freely choose how to respond to your gift.They may refuse it or push you away. They may accept it. Do not be discouraged if your love is not received because either way I will fill you so that you can always know that I am enough. I am all you need. Find your peace, joy, fulfillment, and purpose in me and continue to fill yourself with it so that you can extend it further.
  
After resting with Him who is the eye of the storm, I have found my peace because I have found my worth and dignity in Him who loves me above all else. His love fills  me, makes me whole, and reminds me who I am. No matter the storm, no matter the pain, no matter the betrayal, His healing love is always enough. His love prompts me to stand up to face the storm that surrounds me, lifting up my arms to the heavens saying “Lord I surrender this all to you. Take care of everything.” I face the pain I feel, look at the person who I feel betrayed by and simply say “I love you. I love you in and through all things. I forgive you. I am praying for you.”
  

“…stay in the boat in which our Lord has placed you, and let the storm come. You will not perish. It appears to you that Jesus is sleeping, but let it be so. Don’t you know that if He sleeps, His heart vigilantly watches over you?” – St. Pio of Pietrelcina
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Metanioa – Transforming Love

I have been transformed by love and as a result my love has been transformed.

I heard a new word the other day: metanioa. It means a transformation, a change, in your way of life as a result of penitence or spiritual conversion. It originated from the Greek word metanoein which means to change one’s mind. As I look back at the last year of my life where I have studied, prayed, and contemplated what it means to love – to truly love – the way God calls us to love as Christians I have seen my thoughts, my actions, my whole life be transformed. I am changed and I can never go back to who I once was. This year I realized one thing that changed me forever – love is not about me.

I always knew love was selfless. I had heard and read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 so many times. I knew the words – “Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” Although I knew the words, I didn’t live them fully.

Love is not about me. How easy is it to look at your spouse and silently as yourself the question – what do they do for me? How do they make me feel? Do they treat me the way I deserve? But love, selfless love, is not about what your spouse does for you – it is about what you do for them. It is about how you lay yourself down for the other. It is about how you give yourself, all that you are, as a gift to your spouse. This love is about the gift of yourself and your love.

As I sat contemplating the cross in a moment of darkness a year ago I saw love in Christ in a way I had never seen it before. Love so perfect because it is freely given without asking for anything in return. Jesus suffered and died for me and in doing so gave himself as the perfect gift for me out of love. He knew I would reject him. He knew I would fail him. He knew every sin and every mistake I would make but yet chose to give himself, all of himself, up for me as a gift. How humbling.

So often we see the picture of love as roses, laughter, joy, and happiness. The world tells us to look for a fairy tale version of love – a happily ever after – as if love is easy or comes without challenges. Where in our culture do we see the picture of a love like that on the cross? A suffering love. Is a suffering love really any less love than one filled with joy? I would argue not.

It is in a suffering love like that of the cross, that love is perfected. It is in this kind of love that the illusions are torn away. When love is suffering, it is like a stone in the ocean. The currents of pain and suffering roll over the stone taking away the rough edges and creating a smooth stone. It is moved, it is changed. Love through suffering does the same. It takes all our sinfulness, our pride, and our misconceptions and removes them from the core, leaving only love. When you learn to love through the suffering and your misconceptions of love are taken away, you are able to see love for what it truly is – a sacrifice, a gift, an outpouring of grace and mercy.

A suffering love is joyful because it rejoices in the gift it gives without looking for anything in return. A suffering love finds its peace in the quiet, constant stream of love it extends. Love requires sacrifice. It requires laying down your life. Too often we hear that laying down your life is sad – it is not. When you willingly choose to lay yourself down for another, there is no greater joy in the world because this laying down of yourself for another is the same kind of love that Jesus modeled for us on the cross – His perfect example of love.

As the circumstances of my life and my love have changed with time and I have experienced times of suffering love, I have been transformed. I have come to a new understanding of what it means to love and seen a new side of love I never knew existed before. The trials and challenges of life change us – metanioa.