I don’t know about you, but I am always struggling to be a lady. I love period dramas with ladies in long dresses with parasols and gloves. It seems like it was much simpler back then to actually be lady because you really couldn’t behave any other way without being ostracized. Today, there are too many influences that bombard us to almost be anything but be a lady. We idolize movie stars and singers, sex sells almost everything, and you get accused of being anti-feminist if you want to behave in a more traditional manner–which is stupid because the “traditional” manner, to me, is a beautiful expression of femininity.
Now, before you go and get your Irish dander up, lemme explain. I am not talking about giving up our right to vote and wear pants or work outside the home if we want. Being a lady doesn’t mean you give up equal rights. Ladies have lots of power and way more than men often give them credit for. A true lady has the means to keep the peace in her little world (Melanie Wilkes), while the vixens start wars and chaos (Helen of Troy, Cleopatra, etc). Being a lady doesn’t mean that you cannot get dirty if the occasion calls for it or that you cannot speak your opinions. It does mean that you learn to manage what is within your control and make sure that you don’t set about to get your own way, whatever the costs, on things you cannot control, but instead seek a higher calling.
Lemme tell you about 4 cool ladies. I love ’em so much I named my blog after them. They can teach us so much about ourselves and the kind of people we ought to be, including how to be a lady when it is hard. A lot of us may know all we think we can know about them, but they actually continually to teach us daily, if we listen with our hearts. Don’t worry, I will break this up into pieces so my posts are not so loooooooong 🙂 because I could probably gush on and on…..
First up: Martha of Bethany
Poor Martha. She gets remembered through the ages for being pre-occupied with housework and chastising her sister for sitting at Our Savior’s feet and doing nothing but being a good listener. She also gets remembered for being a bit snippety with Jesus when he doesn’t show up in time to save Lazarus. Sounds more shrew-like than lady-like, but Martha is a whole lot cooler than that, though. She represents all of us “normal” people and our common struggle.
She was doing all the right things at the wrong time and trying to be everything to everyone, all at the same time: the role model older sister ( I assume she is the oldest considering her remarks—too well I understand that burden), the gracious hostess, an obedient disciple, and still do the everyday, necessary things. Who hasn’t griped at God, “Woe is me! Why did you let bad things happen to me? Why didn’t you just show up when I asked you too?” Pretty much sounds like most of us. But ya can’t do it all, all the time, and we all forget the power (and really cannot fathom the power) of the Almighty. And you gotta be fair to her when considering this: did she KNOW Jesus was God? Probably…likely she had some inkling of it, but really, she doesn’t have the hindsight we have. We have over 2,000 years on her. She loved Him and served Him, but SHE didn’t know everything that was to come due to Him. She was living in the moment with a fervent hope and faith and she very likely witnessed many miracles—the Gospels do say that Jesus did many things that were not recorded—and heard of many more, but the BIGGIES didn’t happen yet when she had this discourse with Our Lord. We do know that Jesus loved her and this fact is recorded for all time in the Good Book. He loved her in spite of her human shortcomings and very likely because of a lot of them. He loved her graciousness, her trust and faith, and probably her cooking. She probably provided Him with the first good, square meal in weeks that day. He loved her for everything she was and wasn’t.
So, yeah, Martha should have rearranged her priorties on the day of her dinner party…I mean, how many people that ever lived can say that Jesus– in His flesh and blood human form– sat in her house to guide them and instead was worried about the brisket???…but I bet she learned after that and NEVER forgot it, which is something the rest of us could stand to learn and retain. And her walking/talking formerly dead brother would have been a constant reminder that nothing is too late, too unfixable for God. I identify a lot with Martha, with her good and not-so-good qualities. I ask for her intercession pretty often, so that she can help me learn what she learned and help guide me to Jesus when I am too pre-occupied with life or when I am in the “depths of despair” because God “didn’t show up on time”. And also so my brisket doesn’t get dry, my house stays clean and my errands all get ran before company arrives. Jk…but not really.
Lucky for St. Martha, she had not only the Lord God, Jesus Christ, to hold her hand along the rocky path of life…she had THREE Marys in the flesh, too! Now, I know there isn’t anything that specifically states that Martha knew all three…I mean, duh, she knew her own sister…but she very likely did know Mary Magdalene and our Blessed Mother, too. Jesus didn’t really travel alone, after all, what with multitudes following Him from hill and dell. We know his Mother kept a good eye on Him and would have followed Him around, because she would never have given birth to God and then just send Him on his way and pay Him no never-mind after that. We also know that Mary Magdalene was a faithful disciple and followed Jesus all around. Thus, I think we CAN safely assume that St. Martha did, in fact, know the Mary Trio quite well and had good company. Being Christians, they are all alive in Christ and in communion with us, so we have the benefit of knowing them too, if we want, and are in an even better position to help us and lead us to Jesus. Pretty mind-blowing, right?