It is the best of times to be female and it is a lousy time to be female.
But mostly the best, with only a trace of lousy.
As everyone attempts to define women, decide their rankings and judge their motives, it can be quite unsettling to be a girl or a woman. It can also feel hard to be raising a girl.
If we want our own daughters to have the correct view of themselves, than we as parents need to lead the way.
Jesus is the mastermind and selfless dreamer behind the design of woman. He continues to teach us about our own complexities and redeem us from stereotypes and glass ceilings.
Long ago and far away in a patriarchal society, women were deemed less valuable than men.
Girls were not provided a formal education.
Women wouldn’t receive an inheritance if they had brothers.
Women were not permitted to divorce their husbands although husbands could divorce their wives.
And women could not testify in court.
This was the cultural norm when Jesus strode into the neighborhood and chose his disciples and performed his miracles.
And one of those miracles was the redemption of the testimony of women.
And so I tell my girls the story of Jesus rising from the dead.
Even though Jesus had hinted at, and pretty much told them outright that he would die and then come back to life, his friends completely missed it.
Which is a big downer, because any grief over Jesus’ death could have been significantly lowered.
At any rate, Sunday morning dawned and, after sitting on their hands all of Sabbath, two of Jesus’ women friends and his mom were restless to get perfume on Jesus’ dead body, as was their Jewish custom.
Arriving at the grave, they were shocked to find it open and Jesus’ body gone.
Women are famous for their tears and a traumatized Mary Magdalene had quite a few as she turned away from the emptiness.
She took a few steps to leave and saw a man, distorted by the water in her eyes. She supposed it to be the groundskeeper.
But when the man calls her by name, she recognizes the familiar, very loved voice of Jesus.
She probably freaked out.
And then she was given an assignment, unequal in joy to any task before or since:
She was to be the key witness to the biggest miracle the world has ever known.
Jesus told her, “Go find my brothers and tell them.”
He didn’t choose one of the twelve (male) disciples, although two of them were also seen at the empty tomb. Instead, he chose a woman as the first witness to his resurrection. One who was told she could not testify to anything else in her community, was having her testimony redeemed.
It was no accident that Mary bumped into Jesus, nor that no one else did. God was intentional about this encounter.
Jesus spoke honor to his woman friend and all those who would follow her.
He said, “Your testimony is to be trusted.”
He said, “I believe you.”
To the women of today, Jesus whispers, “You are a credible witness.”
To our daughters, Jesus says, “Your words have weight and I hear them.”
And that is one of a thousand reasons I believe Jesus is the best thing that ever happened to women.
Parents, let’s teach our girls that Jesus hears them and believes them. Both by telling them this resurrection story and by valuing their words.