I was thinking about Christmas, and as I often do this time of year, Mary's role in all of what we are about to celebrate. Almost every year about this time I find myself thinking about her and all she must have been feeling and experiencing and fearing and wondering how I would have fared if God had somehow put me in her shoes. Not well, I'm sure. For the most part, what I typically think about is not so much who she is as this young girl about to have a child of her own, but of who she then becomes as the woman who gives birth to the son of God...and all my thoughts drift to all we glaze over in history - all SHE must have endured those 30-odd years as she watched this child she loved more than anything learn and grow and be ultimately responsible for the sins of man. And every single time I feel my heart break as I think of how painful it had to have been to watch that son she loved so very much be hung there on that cross, living out the will of the same God who gave her that sweet baby boy.
And this year, as I let my thoughts drift the other day I wrote one sentence - How did she feel? But, then, it hit me like a ton of bricks....this very girl I am raising turns 14 in less than two weeks - Four-teen...the very same age Mary was believed to have been that night in the stable...the very same age one very special girl gave up her life to raise the child who would save the world. And then all I could think about was how on earth would M feel? Not me at that age, not me now, but how would my CHILD feel in those moments - from the night the angel visited her with the news she had been chosen all the way up to that night when she not only had to give birth essentially outside without any real help or direction while under a great deal of pressure to deliver the most important baby ever to be born? Even now, as I type these words, I find myself shaking my head. I know things were different 2000 years ago. I know it was perfectly normal for girls (I am cringing even as I type that) to marry at this age and begin having children. I know she was already promised to Joseph. I know life expectancy was much lower than it is now. I know that in many ways these girls must have been much more mature than our girls are now. But...they - SHE - was still...just a girl.
So, again, I can't help but wonder about who she was...and I think more than anything, I wish I could know more about this child, this 14 year old girl, whose life's purpose was so very uniquely defined. And what would my girl do in her shoes? See, somehow this child I so vividly remember meeting in those early morning hours is becoming so much more than a child right before my eyes. Yes, there are things about these teenage years that are less than perfect...yes, I find myself shaking my head or begging God to help me understand her and give me the words she needs to hear in these sometimes awful, yet often life-shaping moments...but, more than that, I am more thankful than she can possibly understand for these years because I get to witness history being made - I get to watch her evolve and grow...beyond the heartaches, beyond the day to day junk, beyond the arguments and frustrations, beyond the moments when I wish I could stop time, beyond the moments she can't wait to share something with me and I am reminded, ever so briefly, of all those days when all she wanted was to be near me...yes, beyond all of that I am watching her create the WHO she is here to become...and as I think about all of that combined with the realization that one also very special girl some 2000 years ago was likely doing and feeling and thinking some of the very same things my girl does (because, let's face it, while times change, human nature remains the same) and having no idea how on earth she was going to do it.
We are all here for some reason, some purpose, some...why. Yes, Mary got a glaring neon light, but she also got a much greater responsibility. As many of you likely have done, I, too, continue to struggle with my purpose, my why. Especially in the moments when it seems I can't find any direction, or when M and I can't seem to find a way to each other and I feel as if I'm failing in the greatest role I will likely ever have - but, today I'm going to ignore my why and focus on the why's of two very special girls...both with potential beyond their wildest dreams, both with hopes and fears they likely can't express, both wanting just to be kids in some ways and to hurry up and grow up already in others...but, each shaped by their circumstances in many ways yet independent and seeking to create a life greater than themselves in others.
Mary...just a girl not much different than those many of us are raising right this very second. It's a startling reality, yet one that gives me hope. Maybe it's important to remember she was human, too. That grace was a gift for her as well.
Additionally: things I have thought, typed and deleted...
-How did HER mom feel?
-Can you imagine the conversations between the closest friends?
-Was Mary ever angry about this whole situation?
-Yes, I realize I've left Joseph out of this for the most part.
-Just think if this happened now...the Snaps and Instagram posts would be over the top.
-Did she wish more than anything that rather than three old (okay, Wise) men with gifts that no new mom could ever use, that her mom had shown up moments after with the things you really need in those beautiful, yet terrifying moments (those awful, ugly yet oh so helpful mesh panties being just one example)?
-Mary's identity was forever changed - it's hard enough in those early years to remember that you exist aside from being "M's mom", but she had a whole different type of identity crisis on her hands.