It was time for my requisite nap and I was lying down asking Jesus, “How do you see last night?”
I’d led a soulcare group. We’d listened to what Jesus was saying to each of us through the story of the angel’s surprise announcement to Mary that she was to bear the Son of God into the world. We’d talked about bits of our stories. And throughout, a critical voice had kept interrupting my soul’s stillness with doubts and accusations. Were we connecting? Was I moving too slowly? Too quickly? Did anyone even understand what I was trying to express when it was my turn to share my experience?
I had brought with me a prayer, a few verses of Scripture, and some lines I’d previously written, thinking they tied together Mary’s experience with our experience of carrying Christ within us and bearing Him into the world. I’d planned to offer them as a gift to my group, but, unsure whether they’d connect with where the group was at, I’d ditched them all. Was I listening well to God and to the group, I wondered, or was fear getting the upper hand? I left feeling I’d failed.
“Jesus, how did you see last night?” I questioned. “How did you see me in it?”
“Rest, favored one,” I sensed him respond, using the word the angel used of Mary and Paul uses of us1. “You gave me your yes, and that’s all I ask.”
How easily I forget that it’s my job to give my yes and God’s to make life flourish.
And how quickly I forget that Mary’s yes didn’t exclude her from morning sickness and mood swings and postpartum bleeding; her yes brought her into the painful, messy, miracle of carrying God’s life in her and birthing Jesus into the world.
Through vicious village gossip and the gnawing pain of pelvic bone separation, through teary conversations as she and Joseph let go of the dream that their first child would be the child of their shared love, through questions and fears and hours of inadequacy—“how on earth can I raise the son of God?!”—what is remembered is Mary’s yes and what God did with it.
1.In the original Greek of the New Testament, the verb charitoo, “to cause to be the recipient of a benefit, favor highly, bless,” is used just twice, once of Mary in Luke 1:28 (where it is a participle and is translated “highly favored”) and once of us in Eph 1:6 (where it is an active verb and is translated “freely bestowed” or “freely given”).