But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
My whole life I have heard the Christmas story told year after year.
It wasn’t until I became a mother that the story took on a new life in my heart.
It was still about God sending a savior, but there was a new level that has taken on a life of it’s own; it is the story of Mary.
The first Christmas Eve after Eddie was born, we were at Cortney’s mom and step-dad’s house like usual. And like usual, someone read the Christmas story aloud from the Bible. I remember being struck by how scared and confused Mary must have been. How she must have said so many times to herself during her pregnancy, “this is crazy, right? Am I really doing this? Carrying the savior of mankind? Am I really the virgin that they have been prophesying about for thousands of years?”
(an aside: for years now I have been grappling with the idea of “truth” in the Bible. I don’t believe that all the stories in the Bible are literal truth, but I do believe the messages are truth. That is a whole other post, but I wanted to put that here because the story of Christ’s birth is one I don’t really analyze as far as historical fact. To me, as a literature teacher, it doesn’t matter if the way it is told is exactly what happened. Like any story, the idea is to feel the characters…to be able to try to feel what they feel. The Christmas story does this for me in a big way. In that way, the Christmas story is extremely true to me.)
When I was pregnant with Charlie, I was in my brother’s wedding. Even though my family are all members of the Reformed Church of America (RCA), the wedding was Catholic because his bride was Catholic. I’ve been in and to a number of Catholic weddings and masses but there were many things I never understood, the top of that list being the fascination (my word, because that was my persecution) with Mary. Why did they consider her to be holy?
The priest (deacon?) who married my brother and sister-in-law explained the “deal” (as he put it) with the Virgin Mary to all of us at the rehearsal who were not Catholic.
His explanation has magnified my fascination with her.
He told us that Catholics see Mary as a very important figure–not as a holy figure in that they worship her–but holy in that they go to her so she will go to Christ. “What better person to talk to when you have a request than a man’s mother? No one has as close of a relationship with a boy than his mom does.”
I remember tears filling my eyes as I sat in the pew with my hand on my swollen stomach. Charlie did his usual gymnastics routine in there and I wondered if Jesus was a kicker while in the womb.
It’s this time of year that my mind and my heart always come back to Mary.
The mother of Christ.
I wonder if some days that wasn’t horribly overwhelming to her.
I wonder if some days she simply forgot and did the best she could to just get through the day.
I wonder if she suffered the Baby Blues or if it got worse and manifested itself as depression. Did she yell at Joseph in a fit of frustration? Did she lose her patience with a whiny Baby Jesus who would not just take a nap already?
Was Jesus fussy? Did he have colic like Eddie?
Did she struggle with keeping Jesus in bed when he was preschool age? We know she had trouble keeping an eye on him because we have the stories of a young Jesus going to the temple at a very young age.
Did she lose her temper with him? We know he was “sinless”, but Mary wasn’t. She was just an ordinary woman that God used in an extraordinary way.
Did she snuggle him at bedtime and tell him stories?
Did she kiss boo boos and sing songs with him?
How much am I like Mary?
In Luke, the Bible tells us that when people came to visit her child and give him gifts she, “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”
Mary was not naive; she knew what her son’s purpose was.
She knew that he was the Christ who would have to die so that the rest of humankind from then on could live.
She knew her son’s purpose was to be tortured and killed.
How many times did that cross her mind? I mean, she didn’t know what age he would live to,but she knew he would be a teacher who was loved…and hated. Hated so much that his own people would murder him.
She knew he would have to suffer.
I know that life is hard and that I will not always be able to shield and protect my boys from the evil out there. I don’t know what sort of suffering they will have, though. I hope it’s just the regular kind of suffering…broken heart, a few bumps and bruises and possibly stitches, but I just don’t know.
So like Mary, I treasure all the wonderful things. I tuck them away in my heart for when the hard times will undoubtedly come.
Unlike Mary, I hope not to watch my sons be nailed to a cross and assassinated. I can’t imagine having to bear that sort of heartache as a mother.
But like Mary, I know I need to hold as much of the good in my heart and mind as I can.
Because bad times will come, and when they do I will need something to hold on to.
Did Mary think about Jesus’ baby smell when she saw them throwing things at his tortured body? Did she remember the first time she held him? Was she recalling all those who came to him with gifts and praise…reminding herself that the rest of the prophesy goes on to say he will be great forever. That this suffering of his…of hers…is temporary?
I identify with Mary.
Not because I was chosen for such an important role in mankind’s history, but because I too store the good in my mother’s heart for the day when sadness will come.
And I trust that God will carry me through it the way he did for her.
I have felt a tug on my heart to write out more of my thoughts on my faith and what I struggle with. Just thought I should put that out there for the regular readers since I know it’s something I haven’t really focused on before. I hope for some great discussion and insight into the faith and beliefs (or non-beliefs) of others by sharing my heart.
Yesterday, my friend Law Momma posted this beautiful post on this topic of Mary. Grab a tissue if you go to read it.