I used to stand under the soothing waters of a warm shower and cry to God, “I was a good girl!” (And I was—for the most part.) “What did I do to deserve this?” This meant sharp-edged children who didn’t know how to accept me as their mom.
Us rule-followers can find like-minded characters in the Christmas story.
You see, Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, and Joseph were all described in the Bible as righteous people. (So was Job.)
But despite their years of faithful service, Zechariah and Elizabeth were denied children—that is until a pregnancy could only be deemed a miracle. And then they likely didn’t live long enough to witness John fulfill his calling.
Though Mary entered parenthood at a much younger age, along with it came a life-long stigma of a sin so bad she could have been stoned to death. Joseph’s own obedience to God put him right smack in the middle of the scandal as well.
These “rewards” for righteous living sure looked a bit unfair. And yet, this was God’s plan all along. And in this plan He had earth-shaking, life-changing, eternal purposes.
Now for those of you who weren’t the rule-following type in your growing up years …
—and maybe you’re still not—well we’ve plenty of stories of how God used those sorts of people, too. Even Herod played a role in the Christmas salvation story. (Okay, please don’t hear me call you a Herod.) God weaves all people into His salvation plan. We all play a role in a purpose far higher than we can ever fathom.
In addition to the ordinary, low-profile mothers who birthed the central characters, look at other cast members in the Christmas story:
Shepherds: those living on the fringes of society, carrying out stinky jobs
Wisemen: though educated and wealthy, were foreigners—outsiders
A bloodline containing harlots, adulterers, and murders
- A life full of horrible decisions don’t necessarily disqualify us. At any point Jesus welcomes us to step into His story with Him, following Him from here on out.
- And a life exhibiting a stellar example doesn’t guarantee anything either. We all need refining. Which, by the way, involves a bit of intense heat.
No matter where we fall on the evil-to-righteous spectrum, we are all prone to ask, “Why me?
What did I do to deserve this misery?”
But the truth is, deserving or not, God’s ways are just plain tough at times. Overwhelming. Impossible. Excruciating. Nevertheless, they are good and perfect and accomplish far more than we could ever dream.
So did you or I deserve the challenges—sorrows—we’ve found ourselves in as parents? That’s probably not the question we should be asking.
The real question is:
Are we, like Mary, willing to surrender to God’s plans and God’s ways?
I know, it’s a constant surrender. And I don’t want to scare you, but the truth is, it’s a surrender for the rest of our lives—with no guarantee of a feel-good ending.
Oh, Lord help us say from the depths of our souls,
More than likely your Christmas has been far from picture-perfect.
It may have unpackaged some unexpected drama. It may have blanketed you with loss and grief. It probably has left you longing for something more.
I actually hope so. Because we tend to search out what we long for. And we know, don’t we, every hope and desire is met in Jesus.
But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish …
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shone.
… you have increased its joy;
… the rod of his oppressor,
you have broken …
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his … peace
there will be no end,
… from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
Isaiah 9:1-7 (ESV)
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