And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.”
I think about Mary sometimes, and what it would have been like to be a mother to Jesus. It’s a precious thing to have a child. There is no love that compares to the unconditional and sacrificial love we feel for the bone-of-our-bones, flesh-of-our-flesh children.
I’ve never adopted, or fostered, or been a step-parent. I don’t know how the feelings in these situations compare. All I know is that I would sacrifice anything, including my own life, absolutely and unconditionally for my kids. What I feel for them is unlike the love I’ve had for anyone else.
That said, I fail them miserably. I’m impatient, unkind, and controlling. I’ve bribed them, threatened them, and hurt them. I’ve had to ask their forgiveness many, many times. They bring out the best in me, yes, but they also push all my buttons and bring out the worst in me. Children reveal our true characters. I am ashamed at what darkness still lingers in my heart, despite trying to follow God as best I can.
God would never have chosen me to be His mother.
I imagine Mary was gentle, patient, and kind. I know a few mothers who gentle parent who exude a sweet Christ-likeness, and I imagine Mary must have been something like them. Mary wasn’t perfect, but she was a godly woman. I’m sure she lost her temper, got frustrated, and maybe even yelled on occasion. But whether you want to admit it or not, some people are nicer than others, some people are kinder than others, some people are gentler than others. To some extent, it’s the nature God gives us. I know non-Christians who are so sweet and lovely. I know Christians who can be downright nasty.
Our nature isn’t what saves us (Thank God – as the only good in me is Jesus!). However, God works on our nature to bring it into alignment with His own through the process of sanctification – making us Holy, ripening the fruit of the Spirit in us. Some of us, myself included, are much rougher gems that need a lot of knocking around and polishing before their beauty can be glimpsed. I wonder if that means we will shine that much brighter if we cooperate with the refining process? The ugliest of rocks may hide the most valuable of gems.
Jesus, of course, never sinned and therefore would have been the easiest child imaginable to raise. He would have cried, of course, and been hungry and grumpy and tired. He probably smeared His poop and peed on the furniture. These things are not sins. Feelings are not sins. But Jesus was so much like other children, so human, that people in His community had a difficult time believing He was anything but a regular man when He revealed His identity.
My children are my closest neighbors, and I am called to love them as I love myself. I am called to parent them as I would parent Jesus, if He were my son. How does this change my perspective?
Would I still work? Would I put Jesus in childcare? Would I homeschool Him? Would I let Him leave His peas, or make Him finish His meatballs before having dessert? Would I even let Him have dessert? Would I always let Him have dessert? Would I leave Him to cry at night? Would I have more mercy, more compassion?
I think these are questions we need to ask ourselves as parents. If we would do anything differently if our child were Jesus, then we should be doing that thing differently with our actual child. That is loving our neighbor as ourselves.