Serene Madonna? I don't think so
Mary, the mother of Jesus, is usually painted looking so serene, but I have to wonder if that was always the expression on her face. The advent season is all about her story, as the young virgin honored to be selected to bear the Messiah. She didn't seem to struggle too much with her yes, but did she have any idea what would be coming next?
This past spring I was in Israel driving by bus from Nazareth to Bethlehem, thinking, "This would not be fun, on a donkey - in your third trimester! Besides the inconvenient travel, she encountered a fiance who wanted to break it off, a village abuzz with gossip, and a less than optimal delivery location. And that was just in the first nine months of the story.
God calls each of us to creative acts of obedience throughout our lives.
A few years ago, after a season of listening and discernment, I had begun a doctoral program. I had quit my job, located funding, and arranged childcare. Three weeks into my first full-time semester of graduate school, I discovered I was pregnant. Not unhappy news, just unexpected.
As nausea, fatigue and anxiety about the future began to come, I had quite a few conversations with God, wondering why the story was unfolding this way. This was not the plot line I would have written for my life. Three children seemed like plenty to me. I was really excited about getting my PhD and thought God wanted me to get it. What was God up to with this new baby and why? Didn't he know what I could handle? Why wasn't he rewarding my obedience with smooth paths and stress-free progress?
Fast forward seven years where my life story, now richer by one more delightful little boy, continues to take unexpected twists and turns. Some welcome and some that make me wonder if God is toying with me. I have grown in my respect and appreciation for Mary, the young woman called to such a tremendous creative act, who went on to continue being a part of God's bigger story. Her perseverance and obedience throughout her life despite the dissonance she must have experienced at times with how the story unfolded, have been a rich example for me to follow.
Mary's story is worth digging into. One of the twists in my life has been taking on a role with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship to create resources to support women called to be in the graduate school, faculty, and professional world. In fact, in a few weeks, Women in the Academy and Professions will be hosting an event in Chicago called "Finding Space for God," where women can enter into the story of Mary and see what God has to say to them through it.
What have you heard God say to you through her story?