When I hear the phrase, "living to the fullest," I get the image of a smiling girl throwing her arms to the sunset sky; her eyes full of stories, of adventures seized, triumphs, success, love, and zero worries. Oh, how many times have I strived to be that girl! Many times I have (either consciously or not) tried to embody that picture-perfect girl under the pretense of showing everyone around me how balanced and good my life has been.
Of course none of us want to give the opposite impression: to be a lame, average, moody and sometimes frightened and worried girl. Truthfully, many times I do not see myself like the first girl… Everyday life, the routine, responsibilities, chores, homework, events--can drive me to a low gauge where I am drained of smiles and sparkly eyes, and my arms feel loaded with things to do.
Jesus said, "My purpose is to give life in all its fullness."
John 10:10 (TLB)
When you think about it, life in itself is wonderful but a full life definitely sounds even better. God has given us life and we can be thankful for every day we are able to wake up. Sometimes a quick "Thank you God for today" prayer flicks amidst the plans and tasks and expectations that line up as the day goes by. And throughout all of that, we attempt to build our best version of a full life: a balancing act of work, family, friends, experiences, spirituality, community, service, health… trying to keep a cheerful and satisfied smile all the while.
Maybe you are a very capable juggler, but I am not. Constantly I have found myself on the tight rope trying to steal the spotlight and realizing that I am no good at juggling. Even if I try to find a rhythm, know the weight and situation of what I am facing, and make a plan that seems rock solid, that cheerful smile does not last the whole act and sooner than later I fail. This does not look at all like life to the fullest, I conclude.
Jesus does not lie, and He doesn't back down from His Word; so when I read that His goal is to give me life in all its fullness, I know that He does not close His fist when He offers it.
Time and time again Jesus gently takes me down from the tight rope and sets me on His lap to lovingly tell me: "Apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)
Wait a minute, you might think, You can't go through every day with the Bible in your hand trying to find verses with answers to every dilemma! How can we be praying and worshipping all day when there is traffic, stress, bosses, fights, and schedules to face? It is unreal. That postcard girl is just a fantasy.
It sounds unreal. It just doesn't fit the rhythm and demand of everyday life. But Jesus has challenged the so-called "reality" from the very beginning. That is why He is a revolutionary person and causes dilemmas even within us. God's standards and design for life are very different from what we have determined. The ideas of success, happiness and fullness do not match. Imagine a rough diamond setting its own quality standards; an expert jeweler has quite different ones, I am sure.
The challenge of tuning into the full life starts with laying down our "quite capable" tools, abilities, strategies, and knowledge at Jesus' feet. Apart from Him we can do nothing. Without Him to guide and nurture us, without Him as our core source, every attempt to flourish and thrive will be temporary and draining: a "life" with no life.
Let's face it. Our pride frequently leads us to put on a brave face, to defiantly roll up our sleeves and face the challenges in our life in order to show that we are empowered women who can deal with everyday demands and more. We are not weak, we can be well rounded, and have Jesus bless everything we embark on.
But truthfully, I am tired. At the end of the day when I dare to strip off my face of those masks, I am scared at the sight of my brokenness, my failures, the tangles, and the mess… How can my spirit be truly alive in all of this? How can anyone's be?
I kept asking God about living fully in the Spirit. What is the secret? What can I possibly share when I don't think I match the picture-perfect girl? What does it look like for my busy life? A short and deep verse came as the answer:
"Blessed [Happy/Very fortunate] are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
Matthew 5:3 ASV
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God reminds you and I to see our spiritual balance sheet in the raw. Every day we need to lay aside our brave smiling masks and embrace the stark bankruptcy of our spirits. However, there's hope in Jesus' statement, since it is a promise in the face of our true deficiency:
"You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule."
Matthew 5:3 MSG
So every time I realize I am at the end of my rope, I can lift my face and see the miracles God does to get me through.
Now, that is life to the fullest.
I am a "tapatía" lover of Jesus, life, people, travel, and color, smiling at the glimpses of design and creativity in everyday life.
Connect with Susy on Instagram (@susanagrzm).