Last year, I was asked to write and perform a monologue as Mary, mother of Christ, for use at our women's retreat. Just a five-minute something from her view of the boy she carried and loved as an earthly mother to a heavenly child.
I can honestly say that it was one of the hardest writing assignments that I have ever taken part of...because really?? How does one try to relate to Mary?!?! ...and yet, when I finally stopped struggling and started looking at what it was she and I may have had in common, I found not only her voice, but a place where our hearts united...as mothers and as women struggling to be who God has asked them to be.
This year, I will be taking on the telling of her story once again at our Christmas Eve service at church...and while I am taking a break from posting till after the New Year, I thought it would be a great Christmas post to end 2010 with...from my heart...to hers...to yours.
Repeated in churches and storybooks. I have been portrayed as a woman above reproach.
Well I am here to tell you my story…and it all boils down to one word: control.
You have to understand the real me: five minutes before God’s glory showed up before me, I knew where my life was going. I considered myself fully-grown and fully wise. I was engaged to an upright man and was already doing all the same duties as my own mother. My life was laid out before me and I was confident in where it was going.
Then came the well-told story of the messenger from heaven. God’s word lays out my response this amazing being but history has used them to repaint who I really am. I mean, I said yes…but you have to understand our history. This was a word from God! He was finally presenting us with the long promised and nearly forgotten Messiah! And He was asking me to be a part of it as it unfolded – of course I said yes! Who wouldn’t want to be a part of it?
But, being true to myself, five minutes after the angel had departed I knew what it was my life was going to be:
I knew that I was going to be God’s vessel for the salvation of His people.
I knew that the world would rejoice in His coming.
I knew that my family would be just as excited as I was.
I still remember racing home, my heart full and my smile bright. My life had changed, but the new one laid out before me was full of promise and I was confident in where it was going.
It’s a funny thing…saying yes to God. We can say yes, fully sincere in our response but only because we hear what we want to hear…we take His directions on how to cross the street and use that to create a world map.
You see, I never once thought that in saying yes to God I would be path full of heartbreak, hardship and uncertainty. It never crossed my mind that my parents wouldn’t be excited with my part in this plan.
I never could have prepared my heart for the wail that escaped my mother’s lips while my father tore his clothing.
I never would have thought I would have to answer questions on my propriety in front of my father and the elders in our community.
I would have never expected to hear my life long friends whisper and giggle as I walked past them… Nor would I have ever thought that I would be labeled a “whore”.
I never once envisioned this life when I stood before the radiating glory of God’s angel…I had no idea that this is what I was signing up for.
That all said, I have loved and trusted God from childhood so my heart was resolute and I was determined to be what He called me to be. So I dug my heart into His and I kept walking, one foot in front of the other. For a long period of time, I was so tightly tucked under His wing that I soon lost the feeling of heartache as I embraced His joy. He provided a heart change in Joseph, a great time with my cousin Elizabeth and He caused the constant stirring in my womb to remind me of my purpose.
But, even in perfection of His contentment, my heart was soon romanced back to making the plans of a settled life. I soon focused my thoughts on soon becoming Joseph’s wife and began to make my daily routines the purpose of my mind. As my abdomen swelled, so did the amazing plans that I was making for our life as a family.
Then came the census, which blew apart my plans on being settled.
Then came the journey while massively pregnant, which I don't want to talk about.
Then came giving birth on the ground next to wild animals, which I really don't want to talk about.
You see, I had been faithful during my pregnancy to remember that this child growing within me was not mine. While he was using my body to gain strength to enter this world, he was not of this world and therefore belonged solely to God. So you can imagine my surprise when it happened...the moment came that I just knew would never come.
It was a few hours after I had given birth. Jesus was awake and his sweet voice raised to announce his hunger. As I brought him to my breast, I looked down on his tiny face with complete awe. I stared with wonder at how God would take this tiny creature and make a mighty Savior. I lifted my finger to stroke his soft skin and as my finger made contact, his teeny fingers wrapped around my large one and he opened his eyes.
I wish I could tell you that I stayed devoted. I wish I could say that I realized that those dark eyes sparkled with the holiness of His Father. I wish I could say that I remained constant in my faithfulness to His plans. But, God help me, I lost myself that moment.
The woman who focused on God,
who tucked in close as the winds of life blew,
the woman who was chosen by God for a great and mighty act
that woman was lost to her own heart.
In that moment, all I could see was that He was beautiful, perfect…and He was mine.
Five minutes before the crowd began to chant "Crucify", I knew that God’s son was going to have to be our atonement. In my head, I knew that He had to die in order to fulfill His love for us all…but in my heart I think I had pictured a humane sacrifice. With each lash, crack and kick against his precious body, my heart tore within me.
I wish I could say that I never screamed up to heaven “Where ARE You???” as the nails were driven into His flesh. I wish I could say that I never once doubted God’s plan as my son hung on that cross. I wish I could say that I am worthy of the stories and the paintings that history has created…but as I stood at the base of that cross, I fully believed that I was severed from the God of Israel…abandoned by Him as my mother’s heart bleed within my chest.
The redemption of man came thru His blood that day…but mine came from the asthmatic wheeze of His words as He called John to my side and gave me a new son. As He placed John in my care, His eyes met mine. I wish I could tell you that I saw the compassion of a son for His mother…but I can tell you that instead I saw the compassion of God for His child. In John I found the son I always tried to force Jesus to be when He never was…and for once, God found in my heart the faithfulness that He had always wanted, but never found. My “holiness” wasn’t found in the choice to be obedient or in the birthing of God’s son…but in the walking of the path that was never mine to plan.
Hoping you remember to find the Christ in your Christmas season...