Mary, Did you Know?
As a Christian since the age of 7, I have been blessed to experience many Christmases knowing the story of Jesus and how he came to this earth to be my Savior. I have done the “Hanging of the Green” and participated in candlelight services and Christmas pageants. And I have believed. But, it wasn’t until the Christmas of my 30th year on this earth that I truly and irrevocably understood the true “reason for the season.”
It was a Christmas like none I’d ever before experienced. As a new mom, I had a cranky 9-month old baby, crying like he did nearly every minute of every day. What I now know was severe inner ear issues were–at the time–evidence of my failing as a mom. As he dug into all of my christmas decorations with his food-sticky hands and shoved glitter-covered decorations into his mouth, I fought to put the tree up and adorn it with ornaments. I was frazzled, hair in a knot on top of my head, picking up and putting down a crying child, fighting the urge to cry. I wanted this Christmas to be the best of all for my son, but I couldn’t get it all done. What kind of mother couldn’t even get her Christmas tree up for her baby? I had seen all the fabulous Facebook pictures of fabulous moms and their fabulous Christmas decorations in their fabulous matching Christmas outfits. Surely, I wasn’t cut out for motherhood. It was hard. Too hard. The postpartum depression consumed me to the point I almost couldn’t breath. I couldn’t do this. I wasn’t strong enough.
And that’s when it happened.
Hanging another glass ornament (Don’t worry…I’ve learned my lesson and long since abandoned the glass ornaments!), the background Christmas music filtered through my anxiety-ridden thoughts. “Mary, Did You Know?,” a song I was hearing for what must have been the millionth time, and yet it felt like the first time. I remember staring into the lighted tree as the words began to pour over me and tears began to fall.
And I began to understand.
Mary, did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you.
Mary, did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy will calm the storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little baby, you kiss the face of God.
I turned my gaze to my messy baby, crawled over to him, and cried as I scooped him into my lap. And in that moment, my heart was Mary’s heart. For the first time, I truly understood the love and faith in her heart. And the fear she must have felt. She had been given the greatest gift and greatest responsibility of any person in this world–she would give birth to and raise the Messiah, the Savior. She would deliver a child who would deliver nations through his sacrifice——an earthly mother carrying the Son of God. God had entrusted her with his greatest gift. In Luke 2:19, after the shepherds went far and wide to spread the word of God’s promise made truth in the birth of Christ, we are given a small glimpse of Mary as a new mother. God’s Word tells us, “Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.” In another version of the same verse, it says, “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Mary pondered what it would mean to be a mother to Christ. She treasured it. And I imagine she worried like any mother would. She knew she would struggle. And that she would fail. Often. And yet, even with knowing how many hard days were coming and what sacrifices she would have to make, even in times when she wondered about her adequacy as a parent and as a human, she had faith that her Father’s promises would carry her through. Because she had the unconditional love of the Father. A Father who “so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
As I sat clinging to my 9-month old, sticky-fingered baby in front of the Christmas tree that day, I saw the truth of Christmas. It wasn’t in the beautifully-decorated tree or the cute outfits or even in the candlelight services at church; it was in the heart of a mother. Like Mary, even with knowing how hard motherhood would be, how many sacrifices that would need to be made, how many tough days there were on the horizon, I had never known a love like I felt for my baby boy. The same love Mary had felt for her baby boy. But even more than the love of the mother, was the love of our Father who sent his Son to save us all.