Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Habit of Obedience

Today while I was waiting to pick Miss Pink up from school, the song "Mary, Did You Know?" came on the radio. I love that song. Except for the Kenny Rogers version. Anyway, this version was Kenny-free, and I let it soak into my brain as I thought about Christmas from Mary's point of view.

Miss Pink's birthday is tomorrow. She was two weeks old on Christmas Day, and I thought I might die from sleep deprivation. In all the pictures that year, my face can barely form a smile. The best part was that we didn't have to buy Christmas presents for anybody that year, because what could be a better present than a sweet little baby?

Remembering my first Christmas as a mother, my heart swells with empathy for Mary. Whatever she knew, I doubt she knew it with mystical, angelic certainty. During her pregnancy, she must have been confused and exhausted and more than a little panicky. Maybe she thought during labor, "Why on earth did I say yes to that angel?" She must have looked at her infant son with an instinctual desire to protect him from anything that would ever threaten him with pain--and yet her mother love was mingled with the knowledge that her baby was not like other babies.

Think about it: all of us secretly think our baby is the most perfect one ever born, but hers really was.

Why did she do it? She had a choice--God always gives us a choice. She could have said no, and the shame of being pregnant before the wedding would have passed her by. The months of waiting which ended in giving birth in a filthy stable would not have happened to her. Her life would have proceeded as planned, without the divine disruption that changed everything.

Instead, she answered "yes" right away. There was no hesitation, no "let me think about it." No, Mary said to the angel, "Be it unto me according to thy word." She said, Yes. I am yours.

Such acceptance, it seems to me, only comes naturally when it has been practiced. Mary's ability to say yes to the ultimate request was made possible by all the times she had said yes to smaller things. She had made a habit of obedience.

Remembering all the times I've complained and whined and fought against God's will for my life, I am even more impressed by Mary's obedience. Too often obedience is seen as passivity; it's considered boring to be an obedient person. But when obedience demands the greatest risk of all, we realize that it's much more difficult and valuable than it appears. And that it takes practice. A lot of practice (well, maybe more for some of us than others!)

Thank you, Mary, for being obedient enough to bear the Son of God. And may I be willing to follow your example--whatever path I am asked to take.



  1. I am all choked up.

    What a beautiful and poignant post.

    This is a hairline fracture classic.

  2. I've never considered that Mary could say no. That's an interesting thought that's worth chewing on.

  3. This was a really interesting examination of something I think most of society has been taught to simply accept. I've never thought to look at it any closer. Very cool and nicely written to boot!