This article first appeared at http://www.myholisticheart.com by my daughter and guest blogger, Jenny Boyer.
The Abundant Life
Will I receive what I am being offered?
This is the question that has been consuming my mind.
There’s a woman in history that captivates me more so than any other. She was labeled as hopeless, filthy, unapproachable, and undesirable for anything other than her body, which she sold to men who used her vulnerability for their pleasure. She was also demon-possessed—a truly tortured life.
When I was a freshman in college, I walked onto campus with the unseen lashes of self-hatred. I brought this into every interaction with people I longed so deeply to connect with, which crippled me into insufferable social anxiety. My awkwardness made me hate myself more because no matter how hard I tried, no amount of positive self-talk would calm my voices inside my head, saying I was undesirable, insignificant, internally ugly, and hopeless.
I resonate with Mary Magdalene because I too once had a tortured life. And from a tortured life, I am starting to find the abundant life Jesus offered Mary when he offered her relationship.
In the words of Jesus, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10
My life was being stolen from me, but it was more significant than just losing my self-worth. My mistake was believing that I would finally get what I wanted once my self-loathing stopped. As a result of my deep suffering, I discovered deeper truth.
What was truly being stolen from me was the God-given power I have as a Christian to relate meaningfully to people free of always thinking about myself. My self-worth was not the most valuable attribute that I had lost. I was losing my ability to love.
I am convinced that, in the words of Larry Crabb, we are thirsty for more than life to just go right. If I had my life go right at that time, I would have fixed my self-esteem. I would have made my personality and physical appearance more attractive, based my confidence on my ability to be socially competent, and would have had the guy I had a crush on fall madly in love with me.
But what I longed for, truly, was to be set free from my demand on others, myself, and God to be recognized as valuable by society. I see now; I longed to experience love in a relationship so satisfying, I no longer felt the need to demand love and recognition from others. Is this even possible? What would it be like to love others without expectation for love in return? That is the love of Jesus Christ.
The abundant life isn’t about life going right financially, physically, or relationally. It is about sharing relationship with Jesus, who, through the love he offers to us, allows us to experience perfect love, empowers us to love those who are hard to love, and ultimately frees us into the life we are always intended to live.
Mary Magdelene too, was unable to free herself from her bondage. It took the surprising touch of Jesus, to reach out and offer her relationship with himself—where she found her freedom. She goes on to follow Jesus with the disciples, watch him die brutally on the cross, and Jesus chose to reveal himself to her first after he rose from the dead. A changed life because of an unexpected relationship.
Satan intends to steal, kill and destroy. He almost won the war raging against my soul to value myself above the self-emptying nature it is to truly love. The desire to put myself first in a culture where individualistic pride is valued above the humility required to love continues to tempt me to desire the life I used to live. I have not arrived, but now see my past suffering as the gateway to discovering how truly liberating it is to live my life with Jesus.
Today, will I receive what I am being offered?
Confidence not dependent on self, hope amid inevitable suffering when life isn’t going right, freedom from the demand for personal happiness above the high personal cost it is to truly love others—the abundant life with Jesus.