As I was scrolling through Instagram the other day I went to the popular posts page and discovered a recent popular hashtag. It was #Madonna. It reminded me that I too used to love Madonna. And it got me thinking about young women in our culture and brought back some old memories.
I used to be a party-girl. My weekly goal was to look my best for the weekend party scene. I’d work to buy clothes and to afford going out Friday and Saturday night with my friends. I was looking and searching for validation. I wanted to be pretty and I wanted to be seen and appreciated.
But my desire was skewed. I wanted all this from a guy. And I was consuming a lie each time I consumed a drink. Somehow I lost the promise I’d made to God in my earlier years. I lost my way from following His will. I started walking a path that led me to a dead end of regret, pain, sadness and loneliness.
In those early days of rebellion I would model myself after “strong” women. I wanted to be one of them. I thought in order to be strong, I had to not care. I had to take charge! And no one would stop me from getting what I wanted! Because OF COURSE I didn’t want a “real” relationship and OF COURSE I wanted to be objectified!
I was in the school for Madonna-wanna-be’s. She had it all. Looks, brains, power, control, success, money, love….wait? Did she have love? I don’t know. Maybe. But to me she had everything I thought I needed in order to be happy. She was doing things her way. Ain’t nobody was going to stop her. I didn’t want to be stopped either as I spiraled into disaster one bad choice after another.
Yet somehow, I wasn’t happy. All the partying wasn’t lifting me up to great heights of satisfaction. The next day after party nights I felt weak, sick and full of regret. But there I’d go every week back to that same place again…waiting for the weekend so I could let the blurry lines of alcohol cast my judgement aside and be numb to reality.
It didn’t work. I was faithless. I was broken. I was crying out in the dark after the failed relationships wouldn’t last. I was far from God. I knew Him but I ignored Him. Madonna didn’t point me to the life I’d wanted. So, I traded her for another one.
The Blessed Virgin Mary.
Fast forward to the present day. My life has turned around. There are many, many twists and turns to the story of my life so far, and I won’t share it all here today. But the point is I traded my life of Rebellion for a life of Orthodoxy. I traded my secular view that God was trying to keep me from happiness for a spiritual view that enlightened my soul. And in recent years, I’ve come to know Our Blessed Lady in a new and profound way. She has taught me that laying down my life for God is all that truly matters.
Her life wasn’t in the tabloids. She wasn’t absorbed with self-image or reinvention. She was a handmaid. A servant. She certainly faced her share of controversy I imagine. But for what? For more money? For approval of Man? Nope. She bore judgmental looks and whispers for a greater purpose than any of us could imagine. And she wanted nothing in return. Just to do the Lord’s will.
Now even as the pop-artist Madonna moves into older age with kids of her own, she still can’t model for me what I’m searching for in this life. She can’t win my heart by her political nonconformity. Her actions that yell and promise “freedom” amongst sexual casualty, her constant objectification of womanhood can’t speak as loudly to me as does Mary’s quiet obedience.
Mary speaks through her actions. Her suffering. Her prayerfulness. These are what get my attention these days. This idea is absurd to me. Not the shockingly graphic sexuality of our day, we’ve seen it all. But rather, the opposite which is strangely unfamiliar in our culture. Peter Kreeft said “In an age that has thrown off all tradition, the only rebellion possible is orthodoxy.”
My point is that today young women are searching as they have been for centuries for a role model. They are searching to be led by another who without a doubt can promise them fulfillment, happiness, acceptance, and love. And young women are sinking deeper and deeper into the lie that this world has it all for them. Our culture promises that we need to let ourselves do whatever we feel like in the name of happiness. But as a former party-girl I’m here to tell you: I’ve been where you are. I tried the party scene. I tried the casual relationships. It’s unfulfilling. Pope Saint John Paul II said “The more the world deprives young people of what is true, good, and beautiful, the more earnestly will they yearn for it. The vacuum of modern secularism is actually a fragrant invitation for young people to rediscover the sacred.” We have a lasting role model that points us to true happiness.
The Madonna, the Blessed Virgin Mary, always points us to Jesus. And He is the way, the truth and the life. His ways are the most fulfilling and satisfying you’ll ever know. The past will be forgiven and washed clean. A new person will emerge from within you. And one day you’ll begin praying for your daughters generation to make the trade too.