Jesus said, “I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.” (John 10:10). I believe the ‘abundant’ life Jesus was talking about speaks to wholeheartedness, to wholehearted living. The wholehearted have developed a resiliency to shame. Just as Jesus modelled vulnerability for us, I believe He lived and modelled a wholehearted life for us. And He wanted us to have that too.
At the core of wholeheartedness is “…vulnerability and worthiness: facing uncertainty, exposure, and emotional risk, and knowing that you are enough.” (Brown, B. Rising Strong (2015). New York, New York: Spiegel & Grau. p. 274)
Jesus embodied wholeheartedness. He faced uncertainty: think about growing up in Egypt, being the son of a carpenter, not having a permanent residence…
Jesus faced exposure: He allowed Himself to be “seen” by all people, whether the peasants or the rich Pharisees; He experienced criticism and judgement from the religious leaders but He was still willing to engage with them (even after they tried to stone him to death).
He faced emotional risk: He opened Himself up to the people and to His disciples; He wept over Jerusalem because He knew they would reject Him and be destroyed and yet He still loved them (Jerusalem was destroyed by Rome 40 years later); He wept at Lazarus’ tomb when He saw his friends mourning and in despair; He considered His disciples His friends and they ran away when He was arrested. He took a lot of emotional risk and experienced pain and sorrow as a result.
And yet in all of this, Jesus knew the Father loved him. He knew He was enough. People may argue that Jesus was God so of course He knew He was enough. But Jesus became a human being, with all the brokenness that comes with that. Jesus experienced pain and disappointment and He still lived wholeheartedly, so much so that he prayed that God the Father would forgive the people who had condemned Him to death (and not just any kind of death, but an excruciating one).
When I think about the things that the wholehearted practice, I think Jesus practiced many, if not all, of them too: authenticity, self-compassion, a resilient spirit, gratitude and joy (He thanked His Father publicly), intuition and trusting faith (He trusted the Father and only did what He saw His Father doing), creativity (He never healed someone the same way twice and He was creative in the telling of His parables), play and rest, calm and stillness (He often went off by Himself to pray), meaningful work (His ministry), laughter, song and dance.
I see a correlation between the wholehearted and the life of Jesus. He really did show us a better way to live and He made a way for us to live abundantly now, in this life.