As I begin to reflect this Christmas time on the journey of Mary I compare it to my own journey into motherhood from last year.
“But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid,Mary; you have found favour with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”” (Luke 1:30-34)
An angel? My experience of finding out I was pregnant was significantly less dramatic than the experience Mary had. For me there was a pregnancy test, the anxious wait and the classic two blue lines. Mary had an angel tell her (a virgin might I add), that she will be pregnant with God’s child. I do not know about you but I am not sure I would have handled the whole experience as calmly as Mary, especially knowing that my potential future with my fiance was on the line. We do not know for sure how Mary must have been feeling but she does handle the situation extremely calmly. In comparison however, despite this being something I had hoped and prayed for a part of me all of sudden felt the huge weight of responsibility for this little one I was about to have and the nervousness and fear creeped in.
The story as everyone knows it is that Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem to register, with Mary travelling on a donkey. During my pregnancy I also did plenty of travelling. We flew to Chicago from our then home in North Carolina, we also went on a trip to the beach. Then it was the big move back to England via Canada and Iceland, and more trips around Scotland before baby was born. So as you can see I did my fair share of travelling and I can truly say that not all of it was fun. I was tired, grouchy and at points just longing for home. So the thought of doing any of that journey on a donkey just seems incomprehensible.
Not only does Mary travel in style, when she arrives in Bethlehem she discovers they have no place to stay. As a planner this just fills me with horror. There were parts to our journey that we struggled with (such as trying to enter the wrong property in Iceland for 10 minutes) but all were sorted swiftly out, with no chance of me sleeping anywhere that wasn’t at least somewhat comfortable. I think that if I was Mary I would have been melting down with panic that I just would not have been able to deal with the fact there was no room at the inn. To have been offered a stable would definitely not been acceptable, especially if I was nearly due to give birth. Instead close to my due date I was worrying about whether we had all that we needed, I was painting furniture and ensuring the little one’s room was perfect. A stable was not an option.
A stable also hadn’t even hit my list of top places to give birth. Hospital was definitely top, with well if I have no choice I suppose anywhere else as long as it is clean will do. As I, at one point, thought that I may have been giving birth in Tesco (another story for another time maybe) and was freaking out at the thought of that, I can definitely say that stable was not an option.
The Bible does not state much about the actual birth of Jesus other than Mary gave birth to her firstborn son. Now I am going to go out on limb here and guess that there was no option of pain relief, or water birth, or dance routines, or whale music, or any of the other options that we have today. As this Christmas has drawn closer and the carol “Silent Night” is played I cannot help but wonder if the night really started out so silent or even ended that way. Despite the diamorphine I can guarantee my birth story was anything but silent and even afterwards as my baby screamed, silent was not a word that I would have used.
Now I know that the majority of people love a new baby and want to see them as quickly as possible. Our family were lucky enough to come up the next day or over the next week to meet our little one and we were excited for everyone to meet her but we got to choose who and when, so it wasn’t overwhelming. Mary got less option. Angels appeared to some shepherds who quickly headed over to meet baby Jesus. These were not family and friends these were complete strangers. If Mary had a Mumsnet account in this modern world and was writing on the Am I Being Unreasonable? forum it may have gone something like this:
Title: AIBU (stands for Am I Being Unreasonable) that God has sent over a load of strangers to meet my newborn son?
So nine months ago I saw an angel, which asked me if I would be willing to have God’s child. I agreed. I have just given birth to DS (darling son) in a stable as we could not get any room at an inn. Now as I am trying to enjoy, settle and rest with my little boy God has sent over some strangers. He says he knows them but I do not feel in the mood to host strangers at this time. AIBU or is he?
But of course Mary accepts that these people and not only that but as the shepherds begin to spread word of what they have seen and heard the Bible states:
“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).
Mary did not yet understand all that was going on but yet was willing to have faith that all would be revealed. She had faith at a time that I was just praying that I would make it through the day and night.
Of course these were not the only visitors that Jesus had, later the Magi, also known as the wise-men came to visit bringing gifts. We also received gifts from clothes to practical everyday items that I had little understanding of before but have been clued in about now for both baby and I. The gifts the Magi brought were gold, frankincense and myrrh, definitely seem like odd presents for a baby and mother. Not the presents you would expect at a modern day baby shower. But these gifts were clues to the greatness of Jesus and all that was to come to pass, including Jesus’ death.
So as we enter this Christmas time I feel grateful for all that I have had and for all that is to come. There were times that my journey seemed hard, my faith tested and those times will come again, but I pray for the strength of faith Mary had. My journey into motherhood had no angels, or stables; no Magi with gifts or shepherds, but was my journey, my story that has shaped me into the mother I have become. As Christmas Day quickly approaches let’s take a moment to remember Mary’s incredible journey into motherhood, giving birth to a son, our saviour Jesus Christ, who has the greatest journey of all.