The other day, I posted this picture on my Facebook wall:
The response was quite interesting. A few people, for some reason, seemed to find it offensive to depict Mary as “real.” There seemed to be particular concern for the fact that Mary looked…well, upset.
Some of the comments:
“I think Mary rejoiced when she learned/realized she was pregnant with Jesus. What I see in this billboard picture is a woman with worry and concern. Is there any real value of depicting Mary in state that, in my humble opinion, is as far from how she probably reacted?”
“why would you want a woman born without sin to be humanized? her holiness was the reason she was assumed into heaven and the reason we seek her intervention in our prayers. to bring her down to “our level” is almost a sin itself.”
I had to laugh at the comments, because I posted the picture for exactly the opposite reasons. I love the fact that Mary looks worried, upset, and even a teeny bit scared out of her mind.
Because you know what?
That’s exactly what an unplanned pregnancy feels like. In fact, it’s a lot like what any pregnancy feels like.
Yes, finding out you’re about to become a parent can be joyful and wonderful, but it’s also a moment full of worry, fear, and even heartache.
It’s a moment when you are taking part in creation, a moment when God allows us mere mortals to participate in divinity, and any brush that close to The Big Guy is overwhelming. What’s anyone’s first reaction to all those angel appearances in the Bible? Good ol’ fear.
Mary, a simple teenager in a clay hut, just going about her business during the day, is suddenly dropped on with the bombshell that she is to be the Mother of God. Me thinks she had a premonition that that wouldn’t exactly be an easy task.
I like to think her first reaction was something along the lines of the reaction I had…
It’s not easy to become a parent. You face the hardest job on the planet, because of the immense love required for the job. You face your child enduring the hardships of the world, the tragedies, the horrors that exist out there. As excited as I am to welcome our third child, I am also terrified–it’s another person to love and worry about, forever.
Mary was a real person. A real mother, a real wife, a real woman who had to endure what all of us go through–the fear of undertaking the immense responsibility of bearing a child into this world. Like any mother, I believe motherhood is a process. There is fear, there is acceptance, there is growth in learning to trust and to love.
Those are lessons that we as mothers, we as parents, have to learn. There is nothing wrong with fear–at first. It opens us up to learning to trust God, accept our responsibilities, and ultimately, rejoice in life.
A lot of people picture the typical Christmas scene when they think of Mary–the mother gazing serenely at her blessed babe, a loving and older Joseph gently keeping watch, and throngs of worshipers mingling with the animals.
You know what I think of when I imagine that first Christmas scene? I wonder who cut Jesus’ cord, and what they did with the placenta, (did they feed it to the animals?? ewwww) and how Mary felt trying to hide her bleeding on the pile of straw she was surely sitting on.
Life is beautiful. And life can be messy. No one knew that better than Mary.
So you want to pretend that Mary wasn’t “real?”
This is a woman who faced unwed motherhood, an unplanned teenage pregnancy, divorce for said pregnancy, riding a dirty donkey at 9 months pregnant, and giving birth in a barn.
It doesn’t get much more real than that.