The Abundant Life
Updated: May 25
written by Jenny Boyer
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 for life just to 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 others, and ultimately frees us into the life we are always intended to live.
Mary Magdelene too, was in a life she could not get free from. 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, see him die on the cross, and was appeared to first after Jesus was resurrected. 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 put myself first in a culture where individualistic pride is valued above the self-sacrificing cost it really is to love the marginalized and those who are hardest to love. I have not arrived, but now see the value of my past suffering.
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 desire for personal happiness above the high personal cost it is to love others—the abundant life with Jesus.
written by Jenny Boyer