Though I don't really classify myself into a Christian denomination, I have grown to love so many different traditions and can appreciate the roots of my faith. In recent years, I have really come to respect Catholicism. I was raised a Protestant, and honestly, I was taught that there were very few Catholics who really knew God. I look at that now and laugh because I have come to know so many who know Him!
I don't fully know or understand all of the Catholic teachings about Mary, but I have learned this: I have not given Mary the respect she deserves as a hero of the faith. It's easy to praise people like Moses, or Paul, or Abraham, but Mary is often overshadowed in Protestant circles.
I had the rare opportunity to identify with Mary when I gave birth to Samuel on Christmas Day. I know that December 25th isn't really the day Jesus was born, but I still found myself thinking through Mary's experience in becoming a mother to the Son of God. I understood the special feelings she probably had--being pregnant, knowing that the baby who would be born was special, knowing that she would one day have to give Him up. As I looked at Samuel, I knew that motherhood was special, and how much MORE special it was for her.
This year, I am pregnant with twin boys, Felix and Milo. I was 37 weeks yesterday, and I am so grateful that I have had a healthy pregnancy and made it to term with them. I have been struggling in my heart, though, because it is quite possible I may have a c-section. I know c-sections aren't a big deal for a lot of people. I know that people often recover quickly and well from them. I know that in the grand scheme of my life, it isn't that big of a deal. I know that it is a beautiful experience for the mommies who have them. I can't downplay the experiences of others. I KNOW it's okay, so don't feel a need to convince me of it.
But, natural birth is very important to me. It is one of my passions. It is something I have devoted time and research to, something I have experienced, and something I think women should be educated about.
In dealing with my own disappointments concerning my birthing experience, I am being taught of the Lord. He is showing me today that I can trust Him no matter the outcome. I can say like Mary, "I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled." (Luke 1:38) Mary humbly accepted the Lord's will for her--to bear the Son of God while yet a virgin engaged to be married.
Mary had to sacrifice to carry Jesus. She could have said, "No, I don't think I want to do this. I'm not willing, and I don't want to ruin my reputation or my upcoming marriage. It's not convenient, and I have my whole life ahead of me." Instead, she proclaimed herself the servant of the Lord, and she welcomed the fulfillment of the angel's words.
She said, "Yes, Lord. Your will be done."
I, too, have been chosen for this. God knew these boys before I even knew they existed in my womb. He has had plans for them before the foundation of the earth. He knit them together in my body and knows them intimately. Every mother has to make a sacrifice when it comes to childbirth--whatever the form. Mine may be the pain of natural childbirth, or it may be surgery and recovery. Either way, there is a sacrifice involved (not to mention the sacrifices of caring for children!). Am I going to walk into it with a willing heart or a begrudging one?
Will I choose to have a heart like Mary's that welcomes whatever may come? Or will I demand my own way, my own timing, my own experience? I do not know what will happen. I do not know if I will get to have a natural birth or a c-section. But, I do know that His ways are higher than mine. His words for me are for good and not evil. He will not lead me down a hard path without providing the grace I need to walk it with Him.
Today, I choose Mary's response. I pray I will do the same tomorrow and each day so that I can say with full confidence, "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." (Luke 1:46-49)