Who is my role model?
Updated: Jun 23, 2022
I want to tell you about my favorite role model in the Bible. And I'll tell you why. I thought of her when I was on the phone with some company the other day. And they were setting up an account for me. The guy on the phone went through these security questions you got to fill in when you forget your password. So he asked me: "who is your hero?" I hesitated, then said, "Jesus." He half-shouted in the phone: Mine too! How is that? We laughed and had a little celebration over the phone. Yes, Jesus is my hero and my role model. But in terms of identity, female identity, who is it?
My hero is a woman who I mark with the word "closeness." A woman who was stretched by mental and physical suffering but who would become the closest to Jesus in his final weeks on earth because she suffered so much. Let me tell you about her, and then I will tell you why she is my role model.
Mary was a self-destructive, shunned woman
Mary was possessed by seven demons. Not plagued by them, possessed by them. I do not know what that had looked like, but I have an idea because I know that the Spirit of Satan is a spirit of destruction. Satan's spirit has often been mentioned in connection to self-harm, suicide, and any form of destruction you can imagine. Imagine that in its fullness. No self-love, no self-care, no self-compassion. Can you imagine that Satan governed all her emotions? No happiness. No joy. No light. No dreaming about the future. Only thoughts of death. And three, she must not have had many friends. She was very hard to love. Perhaps she never felt love. She may have been used and abused, shunned, and hurt, for she was not normal in people's eyes.
Then, imagine one day that the Spirit of Satan is exchanged for the Spirit of God. What was it like for her to feel happiness? For her to feel an arm around her shoulder? For her to hear that she is lovable? For her to feel peace inside of her? For people to look her in the eyes and treat her like a human being? I don't think there is a more amazing story of change than her.
Mary is now a gentle, caring and loving servant
What marked Mary's new identity? Mary knew the contrast between Satan and Jesus and stuck very, very close to Jesus, where it was safe. She followed him everywhere, and with other women, she gave him food and shelter, and she served. Mary was familiar with suffering and was one of the very few people who stood at the cross while Jesus died. Almost everyone else had gone. When Jesus was in her pain, she was in his. Then, Mary couldn't let him go when he had died and was right there at his grave… wanting that closeness again.
I love Mary because her love for Jesus is all over the things she says. She doesn't care about the oddity of two angels sitting in the grave. She is single focused on one thought: "I lost my Lord; I can't find him." Her emotion mind is so stretched that her reason mind doesn't even work properly. Then, to another man, she says: if you tell me where he is, I'll get him and take him back. How is she going to do that? How will she carry Jesus' heavy body on her tiny shoulders and carry him back to the grave? Is she going to drag him through the city and the garden?
Jesus responds in a very personal way that settles her identity. He says: "Mary." The way he says her name immediately clicks with her, and she grabs him so very tightly and holds on to him. Jesus may have realized that she wouldn't let him go for any good reason, so he gave her an amazing job: to tell the others. And she speeds away full of adrenaline.
How is Mary a picture of Christian identity?
Mary's past made her capable of loving deeply. Mary's deep, redeemed love shaped her role of caring and nurturing for Jesus and the disciples, and later becamshe e a Gospel messenger. But Mary's role was driven by a pure desire to be as close to Jesus as she possibly could be. Her love for Jesus was driving everything Mary did, saw, and said, impulsive as it was.
So what about us? Being a Christian does not start with heritage, what you do, or saying the right thing. That's pharisaical. A Christian identity starts with being a Mary who is redeemed, full of love, and starts living out her role out of this love. So start by learning from Mary and cultivate your desire for closeness to Jesus all of your life. Then, let this desire drive your role and occupation. Let's work on our Christian identity. And remember: whoever you follow in this life, imitate them as they imitate Christ.