Four months ago, my husband and I got the best gift we’ve ever received: Our daughter, Lucy, was born August 5, launching us on an amazing, sleep-deprived journey as parents.
When we held her for the first time, we saw her with new-parent eyes—she was squinty, puffy, wrinkled, splotchy perfection. I’d guess we got about 90 seconds of peace before the thought popped in my mind that has dominated the last four months: Oh, there are so many ways we can mess this up.
New and prospective parents, resist the temptation to Google. Because once you go down that road, there’s no coming back. Paci or no paci? Swaddle or free sleep? Is the fresh air good for her, or full of germs too mighty for her tiny immune system? If she fails at tummy time, is it because she’s nervous about performing well in front of me? (Believe it or not, this is a thing, even at four months. Google it.)
Those 21st century concerns are embarrassing to say the least when I think about what another, historical mom must have worried about in the days after her son was born. This stable is so dirty, Mary must have thought. There are so many goats.
And later, Who are these people from the east who have come to see him? Can I trust they have his best interest in mind?
And, ultimately, I know why he’s here. Can I really stand to watch him fulfill God’s purpose for his life? Can I really let him die?
How many ways can I mess this up? she must have wondered.
The worries of motherhood, which can spiral pretty quickly into downright terror, could have made Mary cling tightly to the gift she’d been given, and the heavy responsibility she must have felt. After experiencing four months of parenting-induced anxiety, I know that had I been Jesus’ mother, I would have kept him in the house and away from germs for as long as possible. Probably still in his swaddling clothes.
But instead, after submitting herself to what had to have been a numbing proclamation (Luke 1:38), Mary watched everything happening to her son and her family and treasured them all in her heart, meditating on them (Luke 2:19).
Instead of worry, she embraced the heavenly stillness and peace of knowing that while her human weakness and propensity to make mistakes lurked around every corner, God was in control.
He still is.