As I was sitting at the airport this morning, scrolling through my phone, I came upon an email from a catholic publication I follow, informing me that today is the feast day of St. Mary Magdalene.
Mary Magdalene. The biblical woman that most people incorrectly remember as a prostitute.
I have such a big spot in my heart for this inspiring woman of the bible, because her story resonates with me so personally. And in fact, it hits incredibly close to home.
I think it is sometimes glossed over, but when Jesus met Mary Magdalene, she was possessed by seven demons. And He expelled them from her.
Yeah — uncomfortable topic. Exorcism from demons. Her past history has been sanitized as a “sinful woman,” but the fact is, the bible explicitly states that she was literally possessed by seven demons.
Luke 8:1-3 “After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with Him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out.“
I think she is such a beautiful and important character that God includes in Jesus’ life. Because despite how incredibly captured and enslaved she was in her sin — to the point of literal demonic possession — God still used her in tremendously important ways. Not only was she with him throughout His ministry — and famously washed His feet with her tears and hair — she was also one of the few people present at Jesus’ crucifixion. But I think most importantly, she discovered that the tomb was empty and was the very first person that Jesus appeared to.
I don’t know about you, but that is just remarkably encouraging. I mean, isn’t it?! That Jesus could take a life that was so broken and desolate in sin, and being controlled by evil — and transform it to such a vision of hope, and an instrument to share the gospel.
When resurrected Jesus appeared to her, He instructed her to go to the village and share what she had seen. She was the first evangelist. She was the first to spread the good news. The fact that such an honor was given to a) a woman, and b) someone with such a past — that powerful truth is not lost on me.
If you’ve read my story of my anorexia, then you will know why this hits so close to home for me, personally. And that is because, I am a firm believer that my eating disorder was a form of spiritual warfare.
Again, an uncomfortable topic, but the degree to which I was held captive by the darkness and the evil that had taken residence in my heart — it was causing me to slowly self-destruct through starvation, day by day, nearly to the point of death.
And I have shared openly on here, and on various podcasts, I also had a powerful experience at inpatient where I believe that an evil spirit was released. I was with my therapist, curled up in a tiny ball, and it was as though I was watching the scene from above. I heard this loud, scary, cavernous voice come out of my mouth, “I LIED” — and for the first time I told the truth about all the deception and manipulation I had been doing during my anorexia. I cried. I smiled. I asked for Jesus’ forgiveness and for the first time, truly embraced recovery.
But when I learned that Mary Magdalene had been possessed by seven demons, and then went on to live such an incredible life — it gave me so much hope.
I just thought about how she must have felt, washing the feet of our Lord with her tears, and drying them with her hair. And just the overwhelming gratitude, love, and admiration for her literal savior. Her rescuer that saved her life and transformed her heart.
I feel a direct kinship with her in that.
Her story is one of remarkable hope. One of redemption, that I think we all can take comfort in: There is no situation too desolate or far gone for the power of Christ’s transformative love. There is no person too broken, no circumstance that is “unsaveable.” Christ can make us new. He can renew even the most oppressed heart.
I don’t know about you, but that is the Good News. And that is the truth I want to build my life on, today and everyday.
“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5
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