I wonder what Mary looked like. Was she petite? Was she tall? Were her features delicate or strong? Was she graceful or athletic? These details may not matter much to her story but it helps me play out the narrative in my mind. And Mary’s story is one that I play over and over again.
She was chosen by God to give birth to His son. She accepted the calling with humble obedience. She raised this God-child and spent years of her life pouring into his. Then, when the time came, she watched him die on the cross.
So, I wonder again, what did she look like?
I imagine that when the angel appeared her eyes first filled with fear and then awe. I imagine she reached for a rock or tree to support herself in the shock of the moment. Perhaps she slowly sank to the ground as she realized what was happening and turned a trembling face upward when she accepted the message.
Mary may have cried silent tears as she told Joseph of her pregnancy, afraid of what he would do. She probably laid awake at night not knowing how this was going to play out but not doubting that it would. In her culture, she should have been stoned to death for this pregnancy. Yet this child would be born, just as the angel said, and so she would live to give him birth. But how?
Mary waited the nine months of her pregnancy with what I imagine to be excitement, joy, and terror. I imagine that every time she passed the whispering townsfolk on her way to get water she wrapped her shawl a little closer around her, protecting herself from their stares. After Jesus was born, I picture her holding his little hand and drawing him in close to her skirts in an attempt to protect him too.
As Jesus grew and did no wrong, I picture her feeling overwhelmed and inadequate. How exactly do you teach the perfect child? Maybe she didn’t. Maybe she just learned. I don’t know, but as a mom myself, I empathize with the desire she must have felt to love him as a mom while honoring him as her God.
I imagine Mary being fearful but trusting as Jesus went off on his missions. She saw some people embrace him. She saw others reject him. She knew that on multiple occasions he narrowly escaped being thrown out of the temple and stoned. No doubt Mary was in tune with all the events transpiring in Jesus’ life, feeling his hurts and sharing his joys. Because that’s what moms do.
Then there are the parts of Mary’s story that I absolutely cannot imagine. I cannot imagine watching my child be tortured. Or following as he was forced to carry the cross. And the agony of seeing him struggle to push against the nails, driven deeply into his hands and feet, just to draw a breath. It must have made it nearly impossible for her to catch her own.
There is much I wish I knew about Mary. When the angel first appeared to her, did she know the sorrow that would overshadow her life? Did she understand that this perfect God-child was born only to be a sacrifice? Or did she think that as an adult he would sit on the earthly throne of Israel, taking the place of Herod?
Because Mary was chosen by God there are a few things that I can assume. I believe she had a pure heart and a desire to honor God. I believe she was kind and humble, and that she possessed wisdom and discernment. Also, I know that as Jesus’ life unfolded, Mary pondered all that was and was to be in her heart (Luke 2:19, 51).
Maybe it is because of these things that Mary, whose life was marked by sorrow, was able to experience God’s peace. I believe it is because Mary sought after God and opened her heart to Him that she received the happiness of heaven. Not because of anything she did, but because she knew exactly who God is and who Jesus was.
You see, real peace, the peace that comes from God, is knowing that this life is not the end; that Jesus’ sacrificial death has opened the door to heaven and you are being called to enter in; that someday Jesus will come back to restore everything to perfection.
Peace is knowing the happiness of heaven. It is Jesus. And you can know Him too.