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Broken women frequently showed up in Jesus’ path. Scandalous women, loose women, women with commitment issues and issues of blood. Some of these women threw themselves at His feet, and some were thrown there against their will. Many became devoted followers, disciples even, and some disappear from His story after a single appearance. In a world that saw women as little more than chattel, that forbade friendship between men and women, that was often scornful and hostile toward “the weaker sex,” Jesus spoke value and friendship and strength and healing to the women He encountered. He revealed His Messiah-ship, His resurrection, His forgiveness of sin to these most unlikely people.

One women had been married and rejected more times than should be counted, divorced and passed to the next willing man. She finally learned that commitment meant little to the men she knew and chose a lifestyle of cohabitation instead. She was an ethnic half-breed, a societal cast-off. Jesus asked her for water, offered her salvation and understanding. She was the first one to know Him as Messiah, was the first evangelist.

Another loved Him as a close friend of the family. She was chastised by others for choosing His company and words over her obligatory household responsibilities and for her extravagant worship of Him, “wasting” expensive perfume in a prophetic act to prepare Him for His burial. He promised that her act of beauty would be remembered whenever His story was told.

A very different woman also anointed Him with perfume, a woman with a shady and sordid reputation. She faced the scorn of all the people who knew they were better than she, crashed their party, and washed His feet with her tears. To this woman He extended great love and forgiveness.

Finally, my personal favorite, is the woman “caught” sleeping with a man not her husband, shamed and violated and used as a public weapon against Jesus. Reduced to an object lesson, she fell to the mercy of the men who surrounded her. To her was extended the most beautiful protective statement, that the one without sin was the one to punish her. When all accusers disappeared, she was restored with the words, “Go and sin no more.”

I am a broken woman. Daily I face my sin, my weakness, my shame and regrets and baggage. This newest tattoo, or “life marker” as my tattoo artist likes to call them, is a boundary stone, a pile of rocks to remind me that Jesus extends particular mercy and acceptance to those broken women brave enough to call Him their own.

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