Given the few recorded phrases the Scriptures offer from Mary, Mother of Jesus, we assume that her life included much interior prayer. As the spouse of the Holy Spirit, she must have enjoyed frequent interior communication with the Almighty. Although we do not possess such direct heavenly interaction, we can still learn from Mary’s example regarding docility of spirit and trust in the Lord.
1. Make do with what you have.
“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him up in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”Luke 2:7
Mary suppressed any complaints she may have had about the long journey to Bethlehem just before her due date. She also avoided ranting about how things should have been for her child, the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings, the long-awaited Messiah.
Mary understood that the child she bore was God’s own Son, so she left it up to the Almighty to plan out the time and place of his birth, and his first visitors. She sought only to swaddle the precious miracle close to her heart and gently place him in a warm, safe spot to rest and be adored by all.
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Mary accepted that if God chose for the Holy Family to be relegated to a lowly stable, then so be it. It wasn’t regal or plush, but it was secluded and quiet—perhaps just the right reverential location for the holy child to arrive.
2. Make way for joy and celebration.
“On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, ‘They have no more wine.’ ‘Woman, why do you involve me?’ Jesus replied. ‘My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’John 2:1–5
Jesus performed his first miracle upon his mother’s encouragement. Mary did not guilt him into providing wine for the wedding guests. She merely presented the unfortunate situation and (possibly with a knowing nod to the waiters) trusted Jesus to resolve it.
Likewise, we should present our difficulties in prayer, and then trust God for a solution. It may not be what we expected, but it might be better than what we hoped for.
3. Let your love be stronger than your fear.
“Jesus’ mother stood near his cross.”John 19:25
Mary walked her own Via Dolorosa (“sorrowful way”) alongside her son on the day of his crucifixion. She most likely endured jeers and taunts as the mother who raised such a blasphemous heretic sentenced to a criminal’s death. She was likely acutely aware that nearly all the disciples fled in fear for their lives. The mob may have threatened Mary as well, yet her love for Jesus kept her close to him.
Rather than denying the slanders or defending her son, Mary focused solely on remaining present for Jesus in his suffering. Knowing he willingly endured suffering to conquer sin, she dared not interfere with his work; however, her motherly heart compelled her to assist Jesus as best she could.
A loving gaze certainly offered Jesus relief from the blood streams trickling down his cheeks. A gentle touch surely strengthened his resolve to endure the treacherous nail wounds piercing his feet.
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On our parenting journey, we eventually recognize that our children’s growth and mission often include suffering. If we hinder them from undergoing such growing pains, they do not flourish. Therefore, we walk alongside them, suffering in our hearts—praying for them and with them that their work may be accomplished in a way that brings glory to God’s kingdom.
In those difficult times, we may be able to offer only a loving gaze or a gentle touch. And in those trying moments, that that may be just enough.