Every Christmas, my reflections turn to the experience of Mary. I believe if I flip through blog archives and journal entries, I’d find that I had written about her story from a number of different angles. This year, her story is especially precious to me as, like her, I am expecting a special baby, and, like her, my life is nothing like I had envisioned.
The part of her story that I am chewing on this year is the moment when she said to the angel, “May it be to me as you have said.” I appreciate that she pondered the possibilities before her. She was troubled at the angel’s visit, and wondered how she would have a baby as a virgin. This little girl didn’t fling herself headfirst into the future before. She was troubled. Her marriageability, her family’s acceptance, her security was on the line, and I think she knew. She knew what she could lose, and then she made a choice.
Gabriel never said, “You will be with child… should you choose to accept this mission.” Yet Mary made a choice to take on the life she was presented with, not as a victim, but as a willing servant.
I have reflected a great deal on the issue of abortion in the past days, as it was the first option presented to me when it was clear that Sam would most likely not survive very long after birth. I have always considered myself pro-life, and my convictions are now stronger than ever. But I am struck at how important choice has been as I wade through through the beauty and mire of this stretch of the journey.
I’m not the mama whose convictions were so strong that I was able to look the doctor straight in the eye and say something profound like, “This is life, and I won’t be the one to take it.” No, I was the mama who was so undone by the prospect of ending my Sam’s life that, as the doctor began to offer the option, I held up a shaky hand as he was mid-sentence and stuttered, “That’s not… we would never ever…” No profound words fell from my mouth that day, yet the choice was certainly profound. I didn’t make the choice based on my pro-life stance. I made the choice based on an irrational and profound love for a tiny little person named Samuel, my son. I made the choice because I couldn’t help it.
That choice has been a motivation for me on days when it’s tough to do life. This happened to us, we never would have chosen this, and when we saw that second pink line months ago, we did not anticipate the mingling of delirious joy and bitter sadness. It is terribly unfortunate, and every morning I wake and the reality of our circumstances rushes at me like fire hose to the face. But we made a choice, and we will be blessed to be the ones who will love and nourish Sam into this life, to be the ones to declare how precious and beautiful his existence is, and we will be the ones to see him home. It’s a blessing that will break my heart into pieces, and some days I wonder how I will endure it.
This Christmas, my admiration for Mary the mother of Jesus has grown, and I hope I can approach my choice with the tenderness and selflessness that she did so long ago.