Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mary, the Mother of Jesus

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.


Michelle said...

Wow. Those are beautiful thoughts, Natalie! I had never thought about Mary that way, not even last year, my first Christmas without Benjamin.
I have thought a lot about Hannah, though, and her giving up the son she had prayed for. Also Abraham. Would I have the faith to do that? Do I have the faith now to "give up" my son and accept Heavenly Father's will for him without bitterness?
Thank you for this post. I love the new meaning it will give to Christmas for me.
You are wonderful, and I'm so grateful you're my friend!

Gordon and Jackie said...

Natalie, As I read your thoughts about Mary it took me back to my experience portraying Mary in the play "Mary of Nazareth" that was written and performed when I was about 27 years old. I was nervous about the awesome responsibility of being Mary the main character in the play,and if I could do her justice in my portrayal of her. I will never forget as long as I live the wonderful memory of that experience and the tender feelings of love, respect, and honor that have become mine because of memorizing all of those lines that came from the scriptures and the playwright and then portraying her for the audiences. I loved it and it has always made me feel especially close to Mary. Now with your added perspective on her and the feelings that you have shared, I feel enlightened even more. You have such amazing insight and I know that the Lord is empowering you and blessing you as part of this healing and learning journey. Never forget my love for you as your mother and that the tender feelings of Mary and You are something I understand.
Love, Mom

Loretta said...

What a beautiful post, Natalie. You have such insight....I love to read your ponderings. Thank you for sharing your heart.

The Vakautakakala's said...

Natalie, I remember hearing the news that you were pregnant, being so excited for you. always asking my mom (or Jerika)if they had seen you attend our home ward, or talked to your mom about how you were doing. I remember that day when you lost Branson, reading his blog and crying for a long time during and after reading it. I wish I had been a better friend to have seen you at church and said how sorry and heartbroken I was for you. I have been reading your blog for a few weeks now (yes, somewhat of a blog stalker!!) and just want you to know your not alone, I know that's hard to hear but out of our little group of 8-10 young moms, 4 of those have had one child and lost many before and after their baby's (now all 5 year olds) were born. I can't say I know how you feel, but I admire your courage and ability to believe that this is what was supposed to happen at this time in your lives. My prayers are with you and I hope that throughout the holidays you know that many people are thinking about you and and your family and hope for the best.

Janae B said...

Natalie and Rob,
Sometimes the pain we have is a little on the unbearable side. I see neices and nephews and family struggle through things they shouldn't have to go through. I have heard that if we put all our trials (our sorrows and pain) into a basket and had to pick one out or trade with someone that we would put them back in and trade back for our own. I have a nephew who's one year old has cervical cancer and will have her 4th and final treatment and get out of Primary Children's on Christmas Eve. ( Another neice has a daughter with a strange disease called osteoclunis/myalonus syndrome (sp) and is constantly having relapses and having to go through chemo treatments to treat it. I know Devin and Andrea are hurting from the loss of their little one too. Life is just tough and there seems to be no easy way. What I am grateful for is that you have a network of friends and family to help you and that you have this blogspot where you can post your feelings. I know you are a strength to others who go through these type of things and you have touched so many lives. You have certainly made me think about Christmas and the Birth of our Savior in a different way this year. We pray for you. Remember that Jesus Christ suffered so we don't have to as much.