What Contemporary Women Can Learn About Healing, Freedom & Joy from the Women in the New Testament
In Jesus Approaches, award-winning Minnesota author Elizabeth Kelly shares vivid stories of New Testament women whose encounters with Jesus freed them to flourish in life. The stories are supplemented with moving accounts from her own life, and from the lives of women like you, to demonstrate that sometimes the best way to find healing, strength, and wholeness in Christ is, ironically, to lead with vulnerability and openness. Ultimately, Jesus Approaches teaches that finding the fullness of life for which you were created begins with bringing your brokenness to the Lord.
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Winner of the Independent Press Awards “Distinguished Favorite”
October 2018 title for the U.S. Catholic Book Club
"I come to the water at nightfall. And I make my way down to the shore, down the steps, down the path, over the rocks—descending—and after settling in I listen for the evening waves lapping against the rocks and watch the sun set as the world falls into sleepy, summer darkness. A storm brews in the distance. Lightning flashes far off into the east and I think of you, Lord. I sense you, Jesus, stirring under the waters. How I long to see you, long for you to rise up from the darkness, to gather yourself into human flesh and bone and walk on the water and call to me just like you did to your friends so long ago, “Take heart, it is I. Do not be afraid.” Would you come to me on the water, Lord? Would you rise up and come and spread your unfailing arms and call me to you, like Peter, “Come?” Would I have courage enough to say yes and with my whole heart and without reservation or hesitation reach for you, to step out onto the glassy waves and know that you are Lord? Would I say yes to so much grace? Grace enough to make it all the way to you, to lay my head upon your heart and rest in your embrace? Would you hold me, Jesus, hold me up over the turbulent sea? Press your sacred heart against mine?
Women from Magdalene’s time would collect their tears in tiny vials. I learned this in the Holy Land from a Catholic archeologist born and raised in Jerusalem. He told me that when women married, they would give this vial to their husbands—that is to say, they handed over to his care everything that was most precious to them, in sorrow and in joy. In the Gospel, we know Magdalene as the woman freed of seven demons, and in tradition we also know her as the adulterous woman the Pharisees wanted to stone. That same woman who anointed Jesus with oil and her tears and then dried him with her hair, who, having been forgiven much loved much. When Magdalene washed Christ’s feet, some believe it may have been with the tears from this little vial, tears that marked the most precious moments of her life. This is precisely what she was doing, giving to Jesus everything most precious to her, pouring out upon him, entrusting to him in the most humble way possible everything that mattered to her woman’s heart. This is the Magdalene I treasure most and so long to be.
When women come into my office and collapse and pour themselves out, empty themselves, they sometimes seem surprised and are often relieved to discover that I am encouraged by that. Good! I say. Get good and empty! Mary’s first gift to us, her first act in the Annunciation was to receive, and you cannot receive if there’s no space, no empty corner. Yes, she brought Jesus to us; she brings us to Jesus and Jesus to us in every moment of her life. And we are called to do exactly the same: to bring Jesus to others. But here, the first thing she did was to listen and receive. Her first gift was not giving, but receiving, receiving grace and favor from God and not just a little grace, a smidgeon of grace, but a fullness of grace and there had to be space inside her to do it. A holy, virginal emptiness."