I am getting closer to giving birth for the second time in my life. This pregnancy is, at this point, appearing healthier than the last, although everything happened so quickly at the end of my last pregnancy, I hesitate to say for certainty this pregnancy is going smoother.
A couple months back, I was talking to a friend who was also pregnant, and she was sharing she had never felt closer to the Blessed Virgin than when she gave birth previously. I casually mentioned, and we had a good chuckle about, my reaction to childbirth being, “thank goodness Mary didn’t develop pre-eclampsia, otherwise she would have died, and given the lack of medical treatment back then, the Savior would have died as well. And then, where would we be?” That is how cynical skewed my perception of childbirth remains.
Tonight, while praying the Joyful Mysteries (the Annunciation – when the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary, the Visitation of Mary with Elizabeth, the Birth of Jesus, the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, and the Finding of Jesus in the Temple after 3 Days’ Search), the same question kept running through my mind – was Mary scared during any of those times in her life? In Jesus’ life?
As a young teenage girl, in what I can only imagine as a time in which young children were forced to mature more rapidly (emotionally, not physically) than today’s teenagers, Mary was the recipient of the Archangel Gabriel’s visit, in which even he said to her to, “not be afraid.” So, she must have, before he opened his mouth, been a little caught off guard and frightened. But, then she was set at ease, and she gave her fiat to God’s will and agreed to carry God the Son into the world.
There’s a (predominantly Christmas) song out there that some friends of mine hate – “Mary Did You Know?” I love that song, and the message it asks. Not because Mary didn’t know what was to become of her son, as she bore Him, raised Him, and followed, supported, and encouraged Him. Instead, I like how it sheds light on rather human emotions – it is one thing to logically know what is going to happen, and foresee an outcome; it is another thing altogether to emotionally grasp the severity of what is to happen.
In her Vatican-approved Marian apparitions of Our Lady of Kibeho, Mary told those who were seeing her that she wound up with such sorrow, not during Our Lord’s various trials of life (although that was to be the case), but the deep sorrow she experienced in life began with the Presentation in the Temple, when Simeon warned her that her heart would be pierced with a thousand swords. It, again, points me to she, “knew,” what was going to happen all along, but she didn’t feel the gravity, or the weight of her fiat, until she met Simeon.
But, I digress.
Fast forward to the birth of Jesus, when the Holy Family was trying to find a place to stay. I would venture to guess she was a little scared, and nervous. I have no doubt she stayed steadfast in her faith in God, but you can trust Him and His plan, but still be nervous. What about the peak of labor? Knowing her own mother had gone through labor, but wasn’t there to reassure her – and, there wasn’t a medical staff, doula, or any other trained labor and delivery team I am aware of to assist her. She just had Joseph there, and depending on the people you ask these days, may or may not have been surrounded by animals present. I can only imagine she was scared, at least a little bit?
There is no shame in being scared or nervous about anything in our lives. Being scared is a human emotion. Mary was human – as human as you or I. So, I can only imagine she was scared. Scared as she gave birth, scared as she and the remainder of the Holy Family fled Herod, scared when Simeon warned her of the sorrows in her heart to come, scared when she couldn’t find Jesus for the 3 days He was preaching in the temple, scared when she encouraged Him to begin His public ministry at the wedding feast at Cana, scared as He challenged the “status quo” of the Pharisees, scared as she watched Him be tortured and crucified for our sins. Although she had faith, was she still scared that He may not rise on that third day?
So many times in her life she must have been scared. And, so many times, I am sure she found solace in God and His plan.
As I face my own road ahead, and find myself scared or nervous, if only I could seek to live by her example, and remind myself to ask her in prayer – “Mary, were you scared? And, if you were scared, may you impart to me your faith and devotion to trusting God’s will, the way you did when you said ‘yes’ to God, the Father.”