This is a story I posted in December 2005. I think it deserves repeating.
This is more of a woman’s story than a man’s, but I hope men will read it as well. When I was 15 years old and thought I knew everything, I slipped into the back seat of a butter yellow Chevy Super Sport Impala. The rest is history. With that one little action, I changed the course of my life forever. The chance to be a little girl again was gone. A life grew inside me.
How many teenage girls can say with a certainty that getting pregnant is their first option? And those that actually do . . . how many are prepared for the awesome responsibility that goes along with being a mother? I know I wasn’t prepared. No way. I was immature and irresponsible, spoiled and a few other adjectives that come to mind. Mother material isn’t one of them.
Immediately after my experience in the back seat, I was ashamed. My mother had taught me better than that. I didn’t listen. A few days later, I knew with a certainty that I was pregnant. I had to get the word to Mom and disappoint her. It was a very tearful time.
There was life inside me. Swimming around in there was a child. Wow! From the moment my flat little belly began to swell, I loved him. Unless you are a parent it’s hard to understand that kind of love. I loved my precious child enough to give him up for adoption.
But this isn’t my story. It’s her story. I can’t adequately tell it, but I’m going to try. It was a different era altogether. There weren’t any cars and people mostly walked to get where they were going. Most teenage girls were betrothed (engaged) very early. There were rituals to betrothal and young couples were never unsupervised. It was a time of innocence, I believe.
Come back with me to the road in a little town. A young girl is walking there. Possibly she is picking wild flowers or kicking stones, thinking about her betrothed. He’s a handsome man and already has a trade, so will be a good provider. She’s got her head down and she’s in sort of a dream world. Suddenly, out of nowhere, an angel appears! He’s huge and glowing and she is very frightened. Her eyes widen and she trembles. One can only imagine the thoughts racing through her young mind.
“Greetings to you, woman of favor. The Lord is with you,” he says to her. Favor? What have I done? I’m just a simple girl, she thinks. Then the angel tells her the most unbelievable thing. She’s going to be pregnant! Even back then girls knew you had to be intimate with a man to get pregnant and she certainly hadn’t been. What’s up here?
“Me? I’m still young and a virgin! I am just betrothed. I cannot have a child!” Mary exclaims. (You knew this was about her didn’t you?) The angel explains that the Holy Spirit will overcome her and she will have the child of God. He told her not to be afraid.
Not to be afraid? They stone women who get pregnant out of wedlock! What will she say to her family . . . to Joseph? How will she do all of this by herself? I’m not sure these were her thoughts, but can you imagine trying to explain this to people? Oh, my God!
Yes, we are talking about God here aren’t we? And it’s known that Mary was faithful. How much faith? You know her response. “Do as you will unto me.”
There is no place in my mind where I can fathom this response. I probably would have run the other way. But not this girl. What did she do? Shortly thereafter, she probably walked the approximately 90 miles to see her pregnant elderly cousin. Now that’s obedience for you. It doesn’t say when she told everyone about her condition. She had great courage to do so. It turned out well. Joseph saw an angel in a dream who told him that it was okay and to marry her anyway.
I wonder how it must have felt to Mary to place her hands on her belly and know that God was growing inside of her? I know what it feels like to have life inside me, to feel the first fluttery movements, to be kicked, hiccupped and somersaulted. I know the pain of childbirth and the joy of holding my still-wet child in my arms. How much more must Mary have felt? I wonder if she worried as I did about the future of her child? Did she consider whether she was ready for this responsibility? Did she think she’d lost her girlhood? I guess we’ll never know. I kind of doubt it, though. I think if God gave her the willingness to bear the Christ child, He must have filled her with the confidence (faith) she needed to face any struggle.
As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, let us take time to remember what a miracle life is! Let’s not shortchange His life or God by saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” We got the best gift of all when a teenage girl said:
“Do as you will unto me.”