Becoming a mother changes your perspective on so many things. As a kid, I didn’t think much about Mary. I distinctly remember making plans with a elementary friend over our cafeteria lunches to spend the weekend at each others houses. She asked me in the innocence of a child, “Do you guys worship Mary or Jesus? Because we worship Jesus.”
Teenage me was utterly freaked out by my age proximity to the woman who responded “let it be to me according to your word,” when an angel told her she was about to become an unwed mother. And let me tell you, when you are in that age range, people must feel compelled to tell you at every opportunity.
As a mother, I still think about her age, but I see both Mary the girl and Mary the mother.
A Girl Wrecked for Restoration
Mary the girl displayed amazing faith. An angel told her she was about to become the town spectacle for God’s glory. He didn’t appear to her village to let them in on God’s plan. While the scriptures foretold a Messiah, this probably isn’t how everyone expected. From scripture, there’s nothing special about Mary foreshadowing to her friends, family, and fiancé that God would choose her for a miracle, let alone this one. One of my dear friends Joe Shannon once said, “God wrecked Mary’s life temporarily in order to save it eternally.”
Has God ever wrecked your life? Wrecked really is the perfect word here because he will often take a wrecking ball to the life we have built in order to build what he needs and will use. That wrecking ball has to get rid of the old BEFORE the new begins. Wrecking isn’t pretty. It doesn’t feel good. It feels like your being torn limb from limb. Maybe it was a loss of a relationship or job. Maybe it was a diagnosis or accident. At the time, you wondered if you would ever be whole or okay again, but God gently and lovingly cleared the wreckage and began to build a new.
As I dug into Mary’s response in Luke, scholars pointed out something interesting. Mary goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth for 3 months. When Elizabeth greets Mary, she calls her blessed and acknowledges that the baby in her womb is Lord. Then Mary responds with a nine-verse long spontaneous poem praising God. The poem/song has been titled the Magnificat, a Latin reference to its first line: “My soul magnifies the Lord.”
The Magnificat is rich with history and insight, but note that Mary sings it in response to Elizabeth NOT the angel. Is it possible that she yearned for human confirmation of the heavenly message? That while she believed God, she needed Elizabeth to confirm his message? Have you ever known God’s will, but refused to accept it until it was confirmed from the mouth of a friend? I have on more than one occasion,
Understanding this was almost a chink in the armor of a woman who is very rarely presented as flawed. Even Mary was hesitant. Give yourself grace when you mess up, but also look at where God may be speaking to you. Are you ignoring him until it comes from a human mouth?
After I became a mother. I saw Mary though very different eyes. Experience grants more perspective than any other teacher. Before I had kids, I would sing, Andrew Peterson’s “Labor of Love” at church around Christmas. For 4 years after the birth of my firstborn, I was unable to sing the song without breaking down because of the trauma of his birth. Experience changes our understanding, our responses, and our relationships.
Mary’s journey was so different from anyone ever before or after her, but all motherhood shares a humanity. I didn’t like long car rides after 6 months pregnant. Imagine a cross country trek either walking or on a donkey. I stressed packing a hospital bag. Mary had to pack to have her baby in a town to which she had probably never been. My husband didn’t know a lick about birthing babies… I bet hers didn’t either.
She had sleepless nights and longing for a moment of silence. Did she worry when the next baby came about sharing her heart? Did she worry if she was even doing any of this right? Was there a friend or sister to guide her and calm her tears when fevers and skinned knees happened?
Motherhood is wonderful, amazing, uplifting, hilarious, terrifying, exhausting, exhilarating, fulfilling, alienating, and everything in between. She walked those paths. God came to earth as a child who was loved by an ordinary woman, and her ordinary love was good enough for the King of Kings.
Kept in Her Heart
“But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” – Luke 2:19
One of my goals in life and Motherhood is to be more like Mary. Luke 2:19 is one of my favorite verses and always comes to mind when I think of her. The shepherds have come to see infant Jesus and have told pretty much anyone who would listen about the Angel and the baby. And what does Mary do? She keeps these things and ponders them in her heart.
I am a good ponderer, but what comes into my heart usually comes out of my mouth. If God would send an angel to clamp my mouth shut, it would save me a great deal of grief. I can be very articulate. Too articulate. Rushed to judgment. Sharp tongued. Good at finding flaws. Prideful and slow to apologize. Yep. not the girl you would describe as “She kept these things and pondered them in her heart.”
It’s not that Mary is out of touch. She observes, analyzes, and remembers. She just keeps it to herself. No gossip or running to get a friend’s perspective. She considers them deeply. This passage doesn’t add “and trusts God with all the things she ponders,” but when I read it, I see it there. Oh I want to be like Mary.
God, help me be like the two Marys.
Wreck me like Mary the girl when you need to build better. I trust you to guide me through the wreckage.
Bear with me when I hesitate, and keep me from faltering.
Remind me that you have already deemed my ordinary love sufficient for these two lively boys.
Open my heart and shut my mouth so I may ponder your works.
Christmas listening recommendation: He Who is Mighty by Sovereign Grace Music