A dear friend sent me this beautiful picture that was in the back of the Ensign this month, with a touching letter. Since I received it, I have been thinking a lot about Mary and her beautiful baby boy. I love how closely Mary is holding baby Jesus in her arms. And I love the emotions that are portrayed on her face, "concern and peace...concern for what lies ahead for her child, yet peace in knowing that this Child's Father in Heaven is over all" as my friend put it.
For as long as I can remember I have stood in awe of Mary...her worthiness, beauty, care, obedience, tenderness, love, selflessness, and purity. She was blessed to have the privilege of carrying and giving birth to her little boy, and the Savior of man kind. She had the opportunity to love him, to teach him, and to be his Earthly mother. She was able to see her baby grow into manhood and watch him choose a beautiful path and live a perfect life. I imagine she was filled with pride as her son paved the way and made it possible for all of God's children to make it back to Heaven to dwell eternally with him.
However, this year Mary means much more to me than a beautiful mother that brought the Savior into the world. She is now an extraordinary example of a valiant daughter of God who not only did these beautiful things, but a valiant daughter that did some very hard things.
I'm not sure, but I can imagine that growing up Mary might have pictured the path of her life taking a different course than it did. I can't imagine the heartache Mary felt as she was looked down upon by society for carrying this heaven sent son of God while being espoused to Joseph. While Mary had the joy of feeling her sweet baby grow and come to life inside her womb, she was faced with ridicule and judgement by those that surrounded her. Although the timing may have been difficult, she willingly accepted the call to be the mother of Jesus.
As the baby grew and the date of Jesus' arrival grew near, I imagine that just like me, Mary was filled with great anticipation and excitement at the thought of meeting her first born son, and bringing the greatest gift the Earth has ever known into the world. As she planned and prepared, I am not sure that the thought ever crossed her mind that she would bring her baby into the world in such humble circumstance. I've been wondering what Mary thought as she learned there was no room for them in the inn...was she disappointed, worried, or concerned? Regardless of how she felt, she went forward in faith. She followed her loving husband to the stable where she would soon give birth and lie her newborn son in a manger of hay. She took the most modest of circumstances and made the best of what she had. I wish I could go back to that night and see the light...the love that surrounded them.
I can't even comprehend the pain Mary must have felt as she watched a ruthless crowd shout at her son, mock him, beat him, place a crown of thorns on his head, and nail him to a cross. I don't understand the anguish that must have consumed Mary as she learned that her son was to be crucified, and that he would be leaving her so soon. I am sure there was a wrenching of her heart that was intense and real. And although I think Mary knew this part of his life had a special purpose, and that her son would be okay....I don't think it took away any of that pain. I'm sure that she too did a lot of crying, and I think she must have missed her son every day she was here without him.
Mary had to "let her son go". I am thankful for her valiant example. I am thankful that she accepted hard things that she may not have wanted or pictured for herself, and followed the plan God had for her. The beautiful, joyous moments Mary shared with her son, combined with the painful, heart-wrenching trials she faced turned out to be the most beautiful Christmas gift we celebrate. The birth of her son, his perfect example and teachings, his sacrifice in Gethsemane, his Crucifixion on the cross, and his resurrection from the tomb...all the things that make it possible for me to return to live with my Branson forever!
I pray I can be more like Mary. I hope that like her, I too can accept every part of the plan God has for me, even the parts I had pictured differently. I'm grateful beyond description for my first born son. I am filled with pride because of the path he choose, and I pray I might be the kind of mother to him that Mary was to Jesus.