So you’re a teenage girl, and an angel shows up at your house. Â â€œGuess what?” Â says the angel. Â â€œYou are going to become pregnant, and bear a child, and this child will be the Son of the Most High.” Â 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. Â â€œYou must be kidding me.”
2. Â â€œI think you have the wrong address.”
3. Â â€œWhy me?”
4. Â â€œThis doesn’t fit into the plan I have for my life.”
5. Â â€œLet 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. Â There wasn’t much pushback; there was no dithering. Â It was just, â€œHey, if this is what God wants, then I’m in.” Â 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 Â lives. Â It’s nice to think that we are. Â 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. Â But that’s a fallacy. Â It’s not that we Â shouldn’t have longterm goals, just that life is pretty darn good at throwing curveballs that suddenly send us reeling. Â This is all the more true now that I’m a parent. Â Every day, in ways that are little and big, my plans get totally overhauled by the demands of my kids. Â Though it’s tempting to resist, sulk and complain, it’s ultimately better simply to accept it. Â 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. Â I’ve never surfed in my life, but somehow, I think of them as surfers. Â I see them balancing on their boards, becoming a part of the great wave rather than trying to fight against it. Â And once they do, the ride must be pretty darn exhilarating.