I didn't expect to be so emotional this holiday season. Seriously, I am a mess. Simply listening to the "Little Drummer Boy" on the radio sends tears down my cheeks.
While Christmas is always my absolute favorite time of the year, I think I find myself reflecting a lot more this year about Jesus' birth and God's ultimate gift to us.
After having birthed two babies myself, I feel such an admiration, and maybe a bit of camaraderie too, with Mary.
I think sometimes it's easy to idealize or romanticize the birth of Jesus. A warm stable with a shining star above it, as Mary and Joseph place a swaddled, sleeping newborn baby in the manger. It's all so cozy and perfect.
But I can only imagine how humbling, how overwhelming, how just plain messy it was. It was childbirth after all, and in a stable where animals live.
I imagine how uncomfortable, overwhelmed and likely even frightened Mary was.
Riding a donkey for miles on a rough path while 9 months pregnant? Getting through the intense contractions of labor while lying in scratchy straw with cows roaming around? There was no one to help her through this monumental occurrence except the man who did not impregnate her. No mother or sister to tell her what to expect or how to push or how to nurse the baby, let alone a doctor or a labor and delivery nurse. And she was like, what, 14?
Seriously, you go girl.
But she held on to her faith, to God's plan, when she was probably very scared and confused. Birthing and raising a child is no easy feat, let alone the Son of God. And for Joseph to stay with the woman he knew was not carrying his child but instead trusted an angel with an almost unbelievable message shows how strong his faith in God was as well.
Joseph and Mary had very little that night. They had each other, a precious new baby whom they loved, and faith. Faith that changed the entire world, faith that led us here today.
This Christmas season, I think of Mary and her inspiring faith. That might not have been the way she thought her life would turn out, but she trusted in God's plan. As a mother, I continue to be so moved every time I think about the miracle of Jesus' birth and life.