This post is a part of my Lenten series called “The Women of Lent”. For an explanation of the series and to see the past posts, check out the posts in the category “Women of Lent“.
We were in the weight room for PE class, and we were supposed to be working out on the machines. I was 16 years old and barely 100 pounds despite my lanky 5 foot 7 frame. I could not lift weights, and neither could my friends. The PE teacher knew that, so he usually pretended he didn’t notice that we were using the machines with no weights on them and mostly chatting during the class instead of working out.
But on this rainy day, we had decided to put some weights on the machines. More accurately, we had decided to put ALL of the weights on the shoulder press machine and work together to lift it (I’m going to be honest here, I still don’t spend any time in a gym. So this may not have actually been a shoulder press machine, because I don’t know what those things are called.). Somehow, I was nominated to sit in the chair and use both hands to push out, while my friends Kevin and Amanda (not their real names) stood in front of me and pulled.
We should have known when we had to work together to lift the weights onto the machine that this wasn’t going to end well.
We managed to push the weights out, but Amanda gave up early and then the handle slipped out of Kevin’s hand, and then my wrist snapped back as several hundred pounds suddenly were being supported only by my small fingers.
Pain immediately shot through my left wrist and I knew something wasn’t right, but I laughed it off and said I was fine. I didn’t want to humiliate myself in front of my friends. And the PE teacher had already heard the clang of the weights and turned around.
“Why would you do that?! What were you thinking?!”
I never wanted to hear those words again. I was so ashamed, the “good girl” caught doing something unquestionably stupid.
“I’m sorry. It was stupid. It won’t happen again. Yes, of course, we’re all fine. Don’t worry. We didn’t break any weights.”
It was several weeks before I finally went to an orthopedist and discovered that I had broken my wrist. I didn’t want to hear anyone ask me what I was thinking, how I could have been so stupid.
Mary, the sister of Martha, was willing to have others think she was stupid and wasteful and at least improper if not a little bit of a tramp, in order to worship Jesus.
She sat at his feet like a disciple [women can’t do that].
She let down her hair [whore].
She used expensive perfume [we could have used that money to feed the poor].
She washed his feet with her hair [how disturbing].
She gave up her pride to worship Jesus with her humility. And the disciples, they didn’t get it (bless their hearts).
“Why this waste?!”
It’s the same question I fear so deeply. What were you thinking?! It is a question to humiliate and abuse, a question not designed to search for answers but a question created to accuse.
Judas would be the one to ask. He is trying to humiliate her, but she has already humbled herself low so that He can be lifted high.
And Jesus puts Judas in his place:
“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.”
Laying down your pride is a beautiful thing and we are bowed low to lift Him up.
And what would Mary’s answer have been? What was she thinking, why this waste?
Worship is never waste.