You've probably heard, at some point in your Christian journey, that Mary loved Jesus. We're talking about Mary of the living room, sister of Martha and Lazarus, poured-out anointing of the oil and wiping with hair, weeping at the Cross, bewildered at the grave Mary. Yes, we say. Mary loved Jesus.
But as a 28-year-old single girl (painfully single girl), I kind of think that maybe Mary was more in love with Jesus. That is, she wanted Him to notice her.
It's not that much of a stretch. Let's look at the evidence: Mary was a girl living with her sister and brother, which likely means her parents were deceased. They would have been the ones to arrange her marriage, so with them out of the picture, her prospects were looking dim. We have no mention of previous or present relationships for Mary and yet, this is a culture that highly prized marriage. In fact, she should have been married a long time ago. (Conjecture. We're never really told how old Mary is.) But without the traditional structure in place for arranging her betrothal, Mary's prospects were dim. No man was looking at her.
Except kind of, Jesus was. He was in her home, a young dynamic single guy with what we can believe were at least a few other single guys around Him. This might have been her chance.
I only say that because I've been there. You know, as a single woman, sometimes you're out at Wal-Mart or out for a walk or stopping by the local eatery or...at church...and you see that cute young guy without a ring on (because you notice these things as your singleness lingers) and you can't help but think of what it might be like to talk to him. Or what it might be like for him to talk to you. So you fluff your hair a little, stand up straight, put a little wiggle in your hips and walk down the bow-hunting aisle like you belong there, trying not to smell the deer urine someone busted open obviously a few minutes ago.
Or you plop down in the living room at His feet and demonstrate your intense interest in hearing Him speak, knowing how you've secretly lingered on every word He's ever spoken. Thinking when He sees your devotion, maybe He will see you.
Maybe He'll even smile your way.
There are times, too, when maybe you're not feeling yourself. When you're just having a day where it's getting to you. Singleness, that is. Loneliness. Unworthiness or unwantedness or unbeautifulness. Something that's just weighing down your heart and the only answer for this is a hot date or at least a quick wink (I'm not sure I've ever had either) but as drab as you feel, you know not a single man is looking your way.
I don't know about you other ladies, but I find that the answer for that down feeling is total absolute unwavering (and completely fake) confidence. Can you see Mary walking into the stranger's living room with her shoulders squared, her head held high, and kneeling gently as His feet with the most extravagant gift imaginable, then pouring it out in absolute confidence that says she has not a care in the world except for this moment. A gift that says she can afford to give. A gift that says she is generous to a fault.
A gift that says, "Notice me." In pouring out something worthy, she is masking her unworthiness for the chance to catch His eye. Maybe. Again, it's just conjecture, but can't you see it?
Then at the Cross, like any good woman who stands by her man, Mary weeps. She watches, from His feet or from a distance, as this Man she has relentlessly pursued to the abandonment of all else hangs dying in front of her. Her hopes are dashed again. She is destined to be a single woman. Even the disciples weren't looking at her. Even the single men who gathered in the crowds, who had been in the living room, who had been in the sinner's home, who were there at the cross, were paying her no mind. The only man who had ever dared look at her in that way - with pure love - was just out of reach and growing further away by the second. I can imagine her single heart crumpling inside of her. If indeed, of course, she was in love. If indeed, of course, she was waiting on Him to love her back.
A few days later at the grave, it is clear: there is no hope for relationship. No chance of anything more. Her love has died, and now has vanished, and there's not much consolation for a woman's heart at that moment. She's right where she'd been just a few years ago, aching and wondering and waiting for a man to notice her. For anyone to see her. Aching and wondering and waiting for this Man who said He was coming back to her. Aching and wondering and waiting....
Mary doesn't speak much in the Gospel stories. She doesn't say a word in the living room. She doesn't make a sound as she pours out the oil on His feet. When her brother (temporarily) dies, she doesn't run out to meet Jesus like her sister, Martha, does. She holds back and is then told that He is asking to see her. Do you think her heart jumped a little? He was asking for her! In not her finest moment, at her weakest point, crushed by grief and saturated with tears, now He wants to see her? What a dilemma! But we just don't see her speak.
She doesn't call Him the Messiah. She doesn't call Him Teacher. She does not, in any act of her devotion, however we take it, call Him anything. It's impossible to know for sure whether she worshiped Him as Lord, the way we so often read the Gospel accounts, or whether she worshiped Him as hope - for her future, for her security, for her love.
Maybe it sounds sacrilege, but I'm going somewhere with this. I want you to be able to see this story from the perspective of a single woman and tomorrow, I'm going to bring it back and tell you why, maybe, it matters.
In case, you know, you might rather be in love.