When I was a child, I always wanted to play Mary in the school Christmas production. After all, I had long dark hair and dark eyes so I thought I perfectly fit the criteria to play the leading role. Unfortunately, I was never chosen. Even as an adult I longed to play Mary in the large Easter production at my church. However, it was a musical and since I am very musically challenged, once again the role of Mother Mary eluded me.
Have you ever stopped to think about Mary? Many Christians portray her as a saint; paintings show the brushstrokes of an almost angelic soul who was set apart from the others as a special being. Maybe I am wrong, but that is not the way I picture her. Most scholars say that Mary was between fourteen and sixteen years old when she gave birth to Jesus. My daughter is sixteen… long brown hair with dark eyes. Just an innocent girl, not sure of her future; that is how I picture Mary. I know an angel appeared to her to explain the whole situation and all… but did she truly understand what was happening to her? Did she truly comprehend that the precious life growing inside of her would be the Savior of all mankind?
This past spring, two of my teenagers had the privilege of portraying townspeople in the Easter production at our church. I had not been to any of the previous rehearsals as I was nine months pregnant with my fourth child. However, one evening, just two days before going into labor, I found myself sitting in the back of our sanctuary watching the actors run through the first few scenes. The production started before the birth of Christ and continued through His life, death and resurrection.
As I sat there alone in the darkness watching the stage, I became overwhelmed. There were no costumes, no make up, no audience… but the actress that portrayed Mary began to sing the song “Breath of Heaven” in her beautiful voice, and very quickly the tears welled up and overfilled my eyes.
I was looking through the eyes of Mary.
For a few moments, it seemed as if no one was in the room but me and my unborn baby. I quietly sobbed as I felt the life within me move; my own miracle child. For the first time, I was able to grasp that scene as if it was really happening to me.
Our sweet Mary… was she scared? I know I was, and I was getting ready to birth child number four.
Was she tired from her long journey on the back of that donkey? I was exhausted; I had driven my car to work that day and I was so ready for a nap.
Did she have the anxieties that every new mother has? Was she prepared for that overwhelming emotion she would feel as Joseph placed that beautiful newborn baby in her arms for the first time? Did she feel inadequate to be chosen to raise God’s one and only son?
I tried to stop the tears… but I just couldn’t; I continued to envision what Mary endured as she gave birth. I am sure most of you reading this story have either given birth yourselves or you have experienced it with someone you love. It is beautiful in its own right… but it is also gross, messy and difficult. We live in a world today that caters so much to the mother in labor that everything else around her seems to stop and her every need is met immediately. For Mary… she was in a small, dirty stable. She was surrounded by the smells, sights and noises of the animals that sheltered around her. The straw was uncomfortable, itchy… bothersome.
And her beloved Joseph? Did he have the right words to help comfort her? Were his palms sweaty as Mary held tightly through each contraction with the mounting anticipation and pain?
Did the tears stream down her face when she finally heard the cry… His first breath of life?
Did she breathe Him in like we mothers do with our newborn babies? Holding them to our chests just doesn’t seem close enough… after carrying them inside for nine months we don’t want to let go.
The Bible says Mary pondered these things in her heart… oh, I bet she didn’t miss a moment. The skin so soft and delicate; the sweet eyes trying so hard to focus on the light and new objects they were seeing for the first time…. The love she felt as she cradled the fragile life in her arms. As she later watched her son unjustly die on that cross, did she remember those moments, those thoughts she had pondered on the day of His birth? As she endured the flesh being torn from His body, did she remember the delicate, newborn skin she once tenderly kissed?
Oh, our sweet Mary…. She was just a teenager who was entrusted with the Savior. She had the greatest privilege of feeling the new life stir within her and giving birth to the miracle child… but she also had the greatest agony of watching Him later tortured and nailed to a cross to take away the sins He never committed.
I think we have heard the Christmas story so many times over the years that we have become desensitized to the emotion that played out during it. We sing the songs, we know the main characters… we have the manger scenes helping to decorate our homes. Yes, we remember that Jesus is the reason for the season as it appears on emails, on Facebook status updates and written on the Christmas cards… but do we really take the time to sit and ponder the details? Have we ever stopped to imagine the reality of what took place that one night in Bethlehem so many years ago?
This Christmas, I pray that we will take a few moments out of our busy schedules, close our eyes, and place ourselves in the story. I pray that we will see Mary or Joseph through our own eyes… that we will hear the sounds… envision the scenery… inhale the smells. For a few brief seconds, may we ponder the realism that Mary and Joseph felt as that evening unfolded. May we remember the willingness of our Heavenly Father to choose this path… to choose to enter this world as an innocent baby, completely reliant on a young, inexperienced, earthly mother and father, so that you and I could spend an eternity in the Heavenly realms with Him.
I hope we will remember this beautiful story not just as words in a book, but rather as emotion in our hearts, because this one birthing experience brought forth the Savior for us all!
May you find the beauty in today,
“He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
~ Leave me a comment, I would love to read YOUR thoughts~♥