This year Christmas feels different for me.
Every year I try to make sure that I focus heavily on the what the real reason for Christmas is. I listen to mainly songs that focus on Jesus, not Santa and I reflect on the blessings that have been given to me and my family. I'm not saying I Scrooge it up on the secular part of Christmas but I do try my very hardest to keep Jesus in the forefront of my mind. Sometimes it is really hard, but I try.
This year I find myself focusing on a different player in the the Christmas story, Mary, Jesus' mother who played an intrinsic role in the salvation of mankind.
Her faith was incredible. To have an angel show up in your house unannounced with the message of, "Umm, by the way God wants you to carry His child, who is going to save all mankind from sin" and to just calmly be like, "Thanks Gabriel. I've got this one." is amazing to me.
Of course, that is completely abbreviated and totally put into our language, but the sentiment is still the same.
What Mary actually said with no hesitation, not even a "Let me think about it for second" is, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." (Luke 1:38) That was that. She would take what God would give to her, even while knowing that great suffering must certainly lay ahead for her. Even if she didn't know then that her child would be brutally put to death to save all the other children of all the other mothers of the world, she knew her life from that very moment of submission would be a hard row to hoe. She faced at the very least the immediate possibility of Joseph abandoning her, being stoned to death for her perceived infidelity and her child being labeled a bastard and put to death.
Maybe it is because I am now a mother that I am in so much wonder of this brave woman. I don't know that I would have the kind of faith it took for her to knowingly accept that her first child would save the world. To look down at your beautiful newborn in your arms and before the pangs of labor have even subsided to feel a pang in your heart knowing that you will most likely outlive your child, what kind of faith does that take? It is an incredible, all-encompassing and indelible faith. It is a faith that burns hotter than the pits of Hell and is louder than a lion's roar.
It may have been a man who saved the world. We might still live in a world and a Church dominated by men, but it took a woman, with great bravery and the kind of faith it takes to move mountains to get there. She was a young girl, still a child really, driven only by a courage born of her conviction in her faith, who submitted herself as the handmaid of the Lord and helped change the course of history.
This year while I worship and adore Jesus as we celebrate His birth, I also stand in amazement of the fortitude and sacrifice made by a simple girl with uncommon faith, and pray that I might make Mary a better role model in my life, have faith and remember that a simple "Yes" can change everything.