Mary, who rolls with it

So you’re a teenage girl, and an angel shows up at your house.   “Guess what?”  says the angel.  “You are going to become pregnant, and bear a child, and this child will be the Son of the Most High.”  How do you respond?

If I had been in Mary’s shoes, I probably would have said one of the following statements — or, perhaps, all of the following statements.

1.  “You must be kidding me.”

2.  “I think you have the wrong address.”

3.  “Why me?”

4.  “This doesn’t fit into the plan I have for my life.”

5.   “Let me think it over for a month or two, and I’ll get back to you.”

I’m always amazed that Mary said yes to this, so readily.  There wasn’t much pushback; there was no dithering.  It was just, “Hey, if this is what God wants, then I’m in.”   And zip, just like that, she’s suddenly set on a completely different course than the one she’d envisioned.

The longer I live, the more I learn that we are never really in control of our  lives.  It’s nice to think that we are.  It’s comforting to draw up a tidy little master plan for the next twenty years, and to figure that we can make it happen through careful and deliberate choices.  But that’s a fallacy.  It’s not that we  shouldn’t have longterm goals, just that life is pretty darn good at throwing curveballs that suddenly send us reeling.  This is all the more true now that I’m a parent.  Every day, in ways that are little and big, my plans get totally overhauled by the demands of my kids.  Though it’s tempting to resist, sulk and complain, it’s ultimately better simply to accept it.  And here’s the amazing part: there are often surprising graces that come as a result.

I admire people, like Mary, who have perfected the art of acceptance.  I’ve never surfed in my life, but somehow, I think of them as surfers.  I see them balancing on their boards, becoming a part of the great wave rather than trying to fight against it.   And once they do, the ride must be pretty darn exhilarating.


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