Luke 1:30-31 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.
Today is Christmas Day, which happens to be a top 10 favorite day of the year for me. On this day, I think about the numero uno madre, Mary. As a pregnant person, I am currently consumed with the idea of being comfortable. I desire stretchy maternity pants to let my stomach jut out unrestricted, bigger shoes for my swollen feet, a body pillow to help me sleep on my side, monthly prenatal massages, and comfort food for my cravings. I enjoy the luxury of support from many generous and loving people. And when it comes to the idea of actually enduring labor, I have a nice, warm hospital suite waiting for me with medical professionals to tend to me and epidural cocktails to soothe my woes. With all of this, I will give birth to Hannah - the greatest gift.
Mary carried Jesus while bearing the glares of a judgmental society that likely didn't buy into the whole virgin story. She wore the same garb, trudged her swollen feet along in woven sandals without Dr. Scholl's inserts, and likely slept without a big fat body pillow. And, on this day thousands of years ago, she gave birth to the son of God...in a smelly farm animal infested stable on a bed of prickly hay. The greatest gift. There are plenty of wails and complaints from people in the Bible, yet I haven't been able to find one from Mary in regard to this situation.
I am blessed to know a lot of good mothers. I hope that all of them are aware of the appreciation so many others have for them and know that while situations aren't always going to be divine, they have, like Mary, found favor with God. Mary didn't desire a stable birth for her precious baby, but that's what she got.
Over the past few weeks my family has dealt with the deaths of two great mothers - my Grandma Walter who passed away the day after Thanksgiving and my Grandma Thro who died just last week on December 16th.
These two beautiful mothers were great gifts to me. I will miss my Grandma Walter's sweet manner and the way she hugged like she meant it. I will miss my Grandma Thro's desire to serve others, her cackle laugh and love of fun, and her position as a leader in my family. And she had cute little scratchy, wrinkly hands that I loved holding onto and will never forget their feeling.
As these two mothers aged, I also got to see the next generation of "mothers" step up and take care of them, and set a great example of what mothers do (some of them actually mothers to children, some of them not - so in this sense I mean caretakers). Mothers don't always choose their situations, but they are called to realize that they have favor in God and make the best of things. I pray that all of these mothers know how much their efforts were appreciated although as my grandmas aged and got uncomfortable it was probably hard for them to show it. What these mothers may not have seen was how their examples of love and sacrifice made tangible to others the importance of taking care of those you love and embracing a bad situation with an understanding of that calling, just like Mary.
My prayer for myself as a mother is that I will never forget the example set by these caretakers I just mentioned, and that I will know that I have ultimate favor with God regardless of the circumstance. My prayer for these mothers is that they remember to take care of themselves as well, because it is easy to lose yourself if you focus too hard on fixing everything and everyone else. And my prayer for everyone at Christmas is that they appreciate Mary and the precious gift she gave us - a modestly-born Savior who came so that we can live with more comfort, favor, and appreciation, which represents greater gifts than anything you'll ever find under a tree.