As a new brand new mom, many moons ago, I lay in a sterile hospital holding the most amazing gift. I was simultaneously filled with joy and fear, and they fought with each other.
This is amazing!
Am I strong enough?
I have never known such love!
Am I smart enough?
Life cannot get more perfect!
Am I capable enough?
As my little one grew, so did my fear. I worried that my love was too much. I worried that this broken world would tarnish the potential of this unblemished baby. I worried my little one might not be enough to handle all the failings he would encounter.
The fear became so loud that joy seemed to hide. To combat the fear I adopted the mantra “with every problem comes a logical solution.” So, I became productive and hard working to manage life so fear and failure never touched my little one. I gave him the smoothest path to tread I could manage. The harder I worked, the easier it seemed to keep the fear at bay. Two more kids made for a whole lot more fear, but with hard work I was able to manage it all, most of the time.
A few weeks ago Todd expressed his surprise to see me hustle the fear when I perceive a threat to one of our three. When a threat presents, I create a flurry of dust on the path of life so I can will the path smooth and straight. Todd is often surprised how strongly I feel and react if I think any of the kids’ paths may get rocky. I get all mama bear and then enter problem-solving mode. He feels this is in stark contrast to my general nature. This makes me think he doesn’t know me at all after our 15 years of marriage. What does he think my general nature is if not intense and emotional? And then I think maybe his perception has more to do with the fact that he has no idea what it is like to be a mom. He has no idea how intensely we feel the fear and the joy each time we gaze upon our growing children.
When I began to hear the song “Mary Did You Know” by Mark Lowry in early December – side note…Jordan Smith’s performance on The Voice moved me to tears and you should watch it here – I began to think about the Christmas story from Mary’s point of view, the view of a mom.
I wonder if Mary ever felt like a mama bear.
I wonder if she knew what was ahead for her little one when she said yes to God.
I wonder how she handled the bullies who tried to test her son and prove he was teaching the wrong things.
I wonder how she handled the suffering her grown baby had to endure on his path through life.
I wonder if she knew in those very first moments in the manger how hard it was going to be to raise the Son of Man.
Mary did you know?
This makes me think about another song, the Handel/Watts song “Joy to the World.” I wonder if Mary felt fear mixed with her joy on that first Christmas morning. I was raised to think of Mary as an angelic creature in flowing blue robes that happened to be the only one perfect enough to be the mother of God. However, I have to believe she was rather human in her response to becoming a mother, a whole lot of joy mixed with a whole lot of fear.
I begin to wonder if she doubted her abilities to raise Jesus. I wonder if she struggled to watch his ministry grow.
I wonder if her heart broke to watch her baby die on the cross.
I wonder if she was familiar with the scriptures to know what was ahead.
I wonder how she found the strength to go beyond that first Christmas morning?
Mary did you know?
The answer my friend is not blowing in the wind; but, joy to the world, the earth has received her King! If the Christmas story is true, and I believe it is, then Mary was maybe the first to realize the gravity of this message. If our King reins then we are no longer ruled by the fear of this earthly life. We all have what we need to face what is ahead. We can choose joy over fear.
Joy is knowing that no matter how crappy the right now might be, in the end, we win.
Joy is trusting our lives to Christ instead of controlling and worrying about our path.
Joy is believing the promises God spelled out through time.
Mary may not have known in the manger all the struggles ahead for her little one; but she must have known it wasn’t in her hands to control. She must have known that in the end joy would triumph over fear; and with God right by her side anything was possible.
When I look at the Christmas story like this, it comes alive for me right now. I realize that in Luke 2, when the angles appear to the shepherds and tell them not to be afraid, they are talking to me too. After they announce Jesus has arrived, then a chorus of angles proclaim:
Glory to God in the highest heaven; and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests. (Luke 2:14 NIV)
I realize that life is a balance for all of us between fear and joy. Mary felt it. The shepherds felt it. It is normal for me to feel it too. But the Christmas message tells me do not live in fear or problem solve or create peace. Peace is my Christmas gift when you believe. Don’t be afraid that the children don’t need always have a straight and smooth path. Trust they have what they need already.
Mary, did you know?
Is this what you have been trying to teach me all these years?
Mama Bear can take a rest for there is a new king in town.
Joy to the World!