One of my favorite things about Christmas is receiving Christmas cards from friends and coworkers. Especially this year, since I haven’t physically seen a lot of the smiling faces hanging on my wall in quite some time. Moms, you did a great job getting everyone looking their best!
I know the dads were there, too, but this season puts most of the pressure on the mamas. We are in charge of all the things: Christmas cards, gifts, parties, decorating, and playing the holiday tunes. Getting too caught up in matching the bows to the wrappers and making sure to send your kids to school in their right outfit on the right day can take a little of the magic away from the mamas.
I wonder if Mary felt that way as she travelled on her donkey to register. I’ve been complaining about the modest cold down here, but I have central heating and air and lots of warm leggings. I am also not heavily pregnant making this trek.
I wonder if it all felt like too much for Mary at times. Did she worry about the baby who would soon be born? Aside from, ya know, saving the world and making a miraculous (if not scandalous) entrance into the world, was she worried if he would fit in? Was she afraid that something might go wrong during the birth? Was she worried about a diagnosis or treatment? Did Mary think about how she would afford warm clothing for all of her children? Did she get up in the night and make sure the doors were locked and check in to see if each was sleeping soundly?
I have a four-year-old and a two-year old right now. In reading the account of King Herod ordering the slaughter of all boys two years and under, my heart fell into my stomach. I had been trying to put myself into Mary’s sandals, but I couldn’t walk that mile. Accounts indicate that mamas were hiding their babies or sending them to live with relatives to protect them. I know mamas do that today, too. But when I thought about my babies, I was thinking of how wiggly they are. And how much they talk. If searchers had come looking in our house, we would not have stood a chance.
Mamas carry a lot of self-inflicted guilt and worry. We want to protect our kids and shepherd them in the best way we know how. The problem is, the children don’t stay the same. They are ever-growing and learning. When I was pregnant with Harlow, I would rub my belly and sing to her of the reckless love of Christ. “Before I spoke a word, you were singing over me. You have been so, so good to me. Before I took a breath, You breathed your life in me. You have been so, so kind to me.” I often wished I could keep her there, away from the craziness of the world.
But as her children grew, so did Mary. So did her fears. Did she worry about the other kids that interacted with hers? Did she pray that her kids would make good decisions and grow to be kind, responsible individuals? Did she begin to think about the spouses her children would take? Was she worried that her neighbors would think they were…weird? It stands to reason that her family would have been sorta the original Jesus freaks, even if they did occasionally go to houses where Jesus was speaking and ask him to chill a bit.
Anyway, during my studies and reflecting on Mary, my heart was heavy for her. She had so much going on and was trying to make the best of a really uncomfortable situation. One that she probably felt she had no place being in to begin with. Mamas, I think we can all relate to that. But we are just doing the best we can. We are praying over our children and hoping we are setting the right examples.
My mom was cleaning out my childhood closet recently and came across some of my old journals. I told y’all I’ve been at this writing thing for a while! She asked me if I wanted them, suggesting I could use them for this blog. I emphatically said no; I have no interest in revisiting whatever teenage turmoil I felt I needed to record at the time.
But I thought about the girl who wrote those words. Not much older than Mary. In hindsight, I can see a teenager grappling with trying to find Jesus and feeling a desire for more, but not sure what to do with that.
Here I am some 15 years later, still writing in a form of a journal, grappling with keeping Jesus in the forefront. I am reminded that through every season, we struggle to reconcile the things around us and make Jesus fit into it. Sometimes we just pull him out on Sundays and expect that to suffice us and meet the longing in our hearts, rather than asking Him to lead us in each and every day in each and every decision.
Everyone says that three-year old children incessantly ask the question, “Why?” Mamas can usually give an answer that will quell the questioning. But I’m finding year four to be full of harder questions that make me think a little deeper. I guess I just thought I’d have more time to get my theology in order before I had to answer to my kids. Like this week, Grey asked why we don’t just give all the presents to Jesus since it’s his birthday we are celebrating?
So in this season, as the gifts under our tree are growing, along with the kids and the worries, I’m praying for discernment. I am intentionally seeking the presence, wisdom, and compassion of the Spirit. I don’t have all of the answers, but I know just as I am shepherding my kids, I am being shepherded.
And by the way, y’all look great dressed to the nines on your cards! Just remember as you’re wrangling your family that Jesus loves you just as much when you’re all dolled as He does when you’re spending time with him in your PJs.
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas this week and praying all you mamas find some joy and maybe even a silent night.
Mark 3:21 “When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind.'”
Luke 2:51-52 “Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”
Matthew 1:18-25 “Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).
When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.”