When I was little my school had an amazing Christmas pageant. I distinctly remember wanting to be chosen as Mary. Year after year I was disappointed. Every time they chose a blonde girl to play the part. Seems funny to me now, seeing as my dark hair and olive skin would probably be much more culturally correct. There was a sense of importance to the role. Mary was the mother of Jesus. She was the chosen one. She did everything right. She set a standard for girls to follow. In high school my youth group did a live nativity and I finally got to play Mary. Riding that donkey in the freezing night was amazing. I will never win an Oscar, but I don’t think it would ever compare to those nights of being Mary. They were nights filled with awe- thinking of what the real Mary much have thought as she travelled with Joseph. Why had God chosen her? What was her life going to become? The life that was growing inside her was the Savior of the World. An incredible blessing.
Years passed and I grew up. God worked in my life and I felt his presence in many ways. I ended up being a small group leader at an amazing church. One day one of my small group members walked into group with someone new….the new pastor’s wife! Now, this was not the first time this had happened to me. Over the course of my group’s “life” many of the church’s leader’s spouses ended up in my group. I say this simply because it is important and it shows how God works in our lives. The thing is, I loved my group. It was an amazing group of Godly women. The longer I led it, the more I realized how amazing they truly were. I also began to realize just how far I had to go on my own spiritual journey. I had never thought I had my act together or even knew for sure why I was leading a small group. I certainly didn’t feel qualified. I just loved Jesus. I liked community and wanted to serve. I joined a group and when that group grew and it was time to birth, they asked me to lead. I prayed about it, felt led to say yes, and people actually showed up! Here is the thing though- I felt like I had a group of Mother Marys and my resume looked more like that of Mary Magdalene. I had no idea why these women would be looking to me as a leader. They were the ones who had it together. They made much better choices than I had. My demons were still raging within. I still woke up each day and wondered if the real adults were going to show up at my door and tell me it was time to go. Yet- these amazing women continued to show up every week and we learned from each other. We built community and loved each other. We shared each other’s burdens. We celebrated life and sometimes that got messy. I continued to “lead” the group although what that really meant is that I ultimately got the honor of claiming this group of woman as mine.
I carry a lot of baggage. I am imperfect perfection. After many years of God using many truly inspiring people who are much smarter than I will ever be, it finally dawned on me that there were two Marys at the cross. Jesus wanted both of them with Him. He needed them both. If Mary Magdalene was good enough for Jesus, than I think I am as well. I can stop thinking that I am not good enough, that I don’t have what takes to serve Jesus, and I can start being all that I am meant to be by throwing myself at the foot of the cross where I was born to be in the first place. All the choices I made in the past were made for a purpose. I made them to make me who I am today. I can stop wallowing in the guilt of not being the Mary who was chosen to be the Mother of Jesus, and be thankful that I am exactly who Jesus called me to be. He has a plan for me, and that plan is full of grace and love. People tend to classify Mary Magdalene as a second-class citizen. Some say she was a prostitute. Some say she was possessed. Either way, she struggled. I imagine that she didn’t feel like she deserved to be loved. Yet, she was at the side of Jesus at many important events. She was not a second-class citizen to Jesus. Neither am I. Neither are you. We are all good enough. Jesus sees us through the perfection of the cross. That is a beautiful thing.