As Christmas is closing in, I've been thinking a lot about Mary. Thinking about what it must've been like to be her at the birth of her son Who was going to turn out to be so much more than who she ever thought He'd be. I've found that I have a different way of looking at the Christmas story this year than before. Sure, you say, it's because she's nine months pregnant and getting ready to explode with child. And yes, that's some of it. But it's a little bit more.
Mary didn't have her perfect pregnancy. Growing up in her culture, giving birth to her firstborn son was probably something she'd looked forward to her whole life. Yet because she submitted to God's will, all her dreams for how it should be were taken from her. She didn't have her family around her to support her. She didn't have a nice place to give birth. She didn't get to help pick the name of the child. And that was just the tip of the iceberg. More than anything, I think about how what should've been an occasion for joy would have been tainted by the shame that others were projecting on her. Think how it must've looked to everyone. Think how it must've felt to not even be able to tell her friends for fear of what they would think.
I know I don't have anything on Mary, but I know what it's like to not have your perfect pregnancy. I may not be without family during this time, but I don't have my husband. I may not be giving birth in a stable, but I'm delivering on an Air Force base (not anywhere I'd ever planned for). I may not have been given the name of our child by God, but I'm filling out the birth certificate on my own--and if it's a girl, I don't know what we're going to do! And while I don't have the cultural shame of being pregnant before I got married, I do have the current cultural shame of getting pregnant my first year of marriage when I "could've done so much more with my life."
I think I'm very glad that God knew best, in my case and definitely in Mary's. My little guy is going to be such a gift to our family, and every time I look at him and see his dad's face, I'm going to give thanks...and it'll make our time of separation go by so much more quickly. As for Mary, her baby turned out to be a gift not just for her, but for the whole world. And every time we look at Him and see His Dad's face, we can give thanks...and be glad that we're no longer separated from God because of our sin.