Let the risen Jesus enter your life—welcome him as a friend, with trust: he is life! If up till now you have kept him at a distance, step forward. He will receive you with open arms. If you have been indifferent, take a risk; you won’t be disappointed. If following him seems difficult, don’t be afraid. Trust him, be confident that he is close to you, that he is with you, and he will give you the peace you are looking for and the strength to live as he would have you do.
—The Joy of Discipleship by Pope Francis
Following Jesus as a friend transforms your life. But let’s be honest, sometimes we don’t want our lives transformed or altered.
If you’ve ever read any of my previous posts here on dotMagis, you might get a hint that I do not always acquiesce to God’s invitations right away. Instead, I’m often like Jacob, wrestling with God, and feeling the dual emotions of excitement and fear at whatever is unfolding before me. I want to put my foot on the accelerator and the brake at the same time!
The reality is that a relationship with Jesus changes our lives. When I look back on my relationship with Jesus, I see a journey full of gifts and surprises. I’ve met people that I never would have otherwise but who became heart friends because of Jesus. I experience unconditional love, constant companionship, healing, forgiveness, and mercy because of Jesus. Being in a relationship with Jesus stretches me to love in places or ways I never thought I could. I’ve been healed in places that feel incapable of being healed and restored in places that seemed irreparable, all because Jesus is part of my life.
Being loved by Jesus calls me outward to put this love into action. I’ve done things I never dreamed of doing because of allowing Jesus to enter my life: writing for dotMagis, becoming a spiritual director in my 30s, leading Ignatian retreats, and writing a book. What I do with my days and nights looks different than I imagined I would be living at this stage of my life. I did not set out to do any of these things, and trust me when I say I doubted (and still doubt at times) if I could do any of these things that Jesus was inviting me to do.
Every time I doubted, or I was afraid, or I felt a lack of confidence, Jesus, through his accompanying presence, provided the strength I needed, the grace I needed, and the courage I needed to take a step forward. He still provides this for me today.
Yes, friendship with Jesus changes a person. It’s a radical transformation—one that we might be afraid to allow to happen. One that we might do everything we can to fight. But trust me, even with the shifts and tweaks in my life a relationship with Jesus entails, it is worth it. The gift of a relationship with Jesus brings abundant joy and peace—just like this Easter season does!