Mary’s Mother: Holding on and Letting Go

“Mommy, I hold you?” 

I can still remember my 2-year-old daughter saying that phrase to me as she reached for me, wanting to be wrapped in my arms. I felt like the days of raising little kids would never end. My back ached from carrying them, my eyelids drooped from lack of sleep, my hands tired of wiping noses and all the other things that need wiping with babies and toddlers around. And yet, those never-ending days actually did come to an end. Now I find myself looking at my once-little girl that wanted me to hold her realizing she’s become a young woman who will soon need me to let her go. 

As I’ve reflected on the Christmas story this Advent season, I have found a kinship with Mary’s mother. We don’t know anything about her from the scriptures. We can assume because of Mary’s deep devotion to God, that she was raised in a religious household. I imagine she learned much of the character of God through her parents, and much of how to live her life for Him from her mother.

“For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me. He shows mercy from generation to generation to all who fear him.” Luke 1:49-50

Reading The Magnificat– Mary’s Song of Praise- in Luke 1 we can see a depth of understanding of the Father’s love and plan for creation reflected in Mary’s worshipful declaration. What joy it must have brought her mother to see her daughter with a faith firmly rooted in Yahweh! But I have to wonder, what would her reaction have been to the news that her unmarried daughter was suddenly pregnant with a child she claimed was conceived by the Holy Spirit? I confess, if it had been my daughter, I would’ve been extremely doubtful. Even if she chose to believe Mary’s claims, surely fear for her daughter’s reputation and future were at the front of her mind. It must have been quite a crisis of faith- to love her daughter deeply, love her God deeply, and yet wrestle with the path He had called Mary to walk. 

As a global worker, I have seen my own parents wrestle with watching their daughter walk in a unique calling from the Lord. If they had their personal preference, they would probably rather me and my family not spend years away from them on the other side of the globe. But their love for and faith in God compels them to trust His sovereignty. Now, a mother of a daughter preparing to launch out on her own, I too have the choice to cling tightly to my own hopes and dreams for her or release her to God and trust that even if His plans for her take her far away from me, His way is best. I can sympathize with Mary’s mother- we want our children to be safe and loved and when God’s plan for their lives requires risk and challenge we can be quick to question His goodness. 

I cannot know Mary’s mother’s reaction to her daughter’s news that she was expecting the Messiah. I can only speculate how hard it must have been to see her daughter shunned and ridiculed by their community because of her pregnancy. It was quite scandalous, after all. I don’t know if Mary’s mother defended her daughter or felt ashamed of her. As I sit with my questions about the grandmother of Jesus, I sense the Spirit leading me to answer some questions for myself:

If I call your children to walk a hard path, will you trust me?

Can you bless and release them to fulfill the destiny I have prepared for them, even if it’s different than what you imagined?

Would you be willing to deny yourself so that I might be glorified in them?

Instead of holding on to your children, can you choose to hold onto me?

“I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” Luke 1:38

She is the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about her come true.

Oh that I would have the courageous faith to say that about my daughter, just as Mary said it about herself. No matter the cost, no matter the path, I pray that I would be willing to release my children and those in my life who I invest in to follow the will of God, no matter where it leads them.

Perhaps Mary could hold the Messiah in her arms because she had a mother willing to release Mary from her own.

Perhaps our daughters and sons can best hold the plan of God in their hearts and live it out in their lives when we release them from our own.

This Christmas, may we be found as daughters of the King, willing to open our hands and release whatever God is asking us to so that His purposes can be fulfilled in our lives and in the lives of those around us. 

And may we always remember that in the grief of all our letting go, we have the Author of Love ever holding us.

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