What Moms Today Can Learn From The Mother of Jesus, Part 2
- 2002 17 Dec
When Angela's daughter was 12, she came home from school one day sporting a face full of amateurishly applied makeup. As soon as Angela was able to find her voice, she demanded, "You go upstairs right now and wash that stuff off!"
"But, Mom!" her daughter cried. "All the other girls are wearing it!"
Angela then said something her mother used to say and she'd actually sworn she never would: "If the rest of the girls jumped off the bridge and into the shallow water, would you?"
"You just don't understand!" the pre-adolescent shot back.
Angela pointed to the staircase. "March!" she ordered. With her daughter halfway to the second floor of their home, Angela's shoulders dropped.
The fact of the matter was, she DID understand. She remembered well what it felt like to be 12, to want to grow up, to desperately want to be like the other girls and to fit in with the crowd. It was Angela's daughter who was misunderstanding her mother, for Angela knew a few things about growing up too soon, too fast ... things her daughter wouldn't be able to grasp quite yet.
Have you ever been misunderstood? If so, you're in excellent company. The Bible is full of examples of "misunderstandings," which in turn were used by God for some greater purpose.
Young Joseph of the Genesis story was grossly misunderstood by his brothers, the first 10 sons of Jacob, who was also known as Israel. Their misinterpretations of his prophetic enthusiasm led to his being sold into slavery by those Brothers Jacob.
One of these brothers, Judah, had a daughter-in-law named Tamar who was also misunderstood. When his first two sons died shortly after their marriages to her, Jacob thought it was because of some curse associated with Tamar and had her unceremoniously sent away. This led to one of the most shocking stories found in the Bible (specifically Genesis 38) and is a vital part of the heritage of Jesus.
In a later story, the shepherd boy, David, was misunderstood. The young lad simply wanted to bring food to his older brothers, who were soldiers in King Saul's army. Sure, he was excited by what he found on the battlefront. What boy wouldn't be? Especially one relegated to the often-lonely fields of a sheepherder. This event led to the favorite childhood Bible story known as "David and Goliath."
Prophets were often misunderstood ... and killed for the wrong ideas of those who listened to their godly advice.
Mary of Nazareth was about to join their ranks.
When Mary heard the news of her impending pregnancy from the angel Gabriel, she left her home in haste and headed for En Karem, the home of her relative Elizabeth, who was also "with child." At first glance, Mary's actions seem to come from a foolish "up and go" attitude.
But knowing Mary, she was obeying the direction of the Lord, for she not only left, but also left quickly to go be with the woman she apparently loved dearly and who was considered barren.
These two unlikely candidates for motherhood would remain together until after the birth of Elizabeth's son, John, who would eventually be known as John the Baptist, the forerunner of Mary's Son, Jesus.
So what's to misunderstand?
In my first article for this series, I mentioned that Mary was betrothed to a carpenter/stone mason named Joseph. As a legally "engaged" woman (though Mary was probably no older than 13) she was to remain at home with her parents, preparing herself for the return of her bridegroom. Joseph, in turn, was back at his father's place, preparing a proper home for her.
For Mary to have taken off at such a time was bound to raise some eyebrows.
Can you imagine the tongue wagging when she returned about three months later with some rather startling news for her bridegroom?
We really don't know if Mary told Joseph the whole truth, or truth in part. We can be sure, however, that Joseph knew the child was not his, for according to scripture, he had not been intimate with Mary.
His initial decision to quietly divorce her tells us so much about Joseph's impeccable character. But when the angel of the Lord came to him and told him that Mary's child was indeed the Son of God and the long-awaited Messiah, he "took Mary home" to live as his wife, but did not have relations with her UNTIL AFTER the birth of Jesus. (See Matthew 1)
Why do we think people were any different then than they are today? Do we honestly believe that the people of Nazareth BELIEVED in the virgin birth ... or that they were even told of it? Mary would forever be the "little girl who took off for three months and came home in the family way."
Perhaps Joseph's peers cocked an eyebrow or two when they saw him coming, or laughed behind his back. Perhaps their relationship was forever questioned, even though they were married for at least the next 12 years, if not longer.
Lessons for Today
So, what can mom's of today learn from this fragment of Mary's story? Sometimes, as a mother, you're going to be misunderstood. If you honestly can't think of a time when that's happened, don't worry. It's coming. Whether by those around you, or by the very ones you gave birth to.
Allow me to give you three examples, so you'll know you're in as good of company as Mary.
Story one: Sandra came home from work one afternoon to find her 16-year-old son and his best friend sitting out on the patio talking. The weather was nice and the kitchen window was raised, allowing Sandra to hear (or be heard) by both boys.
They were so engrossed in their conversation, however, that they were unaware of her arrival. Just as Sandra was about to call out to them, she overheard her son's friend say that a mutual under-aged friend was planning to shoplift some alcohol that Friday evening and go "parking" with his girlfriend.
Sandra knew the parents of both the young people in question; they all attended the same church. While she didn't feel particularly close to the parents, she knew she'd want to know were it her son or daughter about to make such a foolish mistake.
Rather than speaking up right then, Sandra waited until later that evening and called both sets of parents, explaining what she'd heard and that, while she wasn't trying to "tattle," she didn't want to see anyone do something they would most likely end up regretting.
The parents of the boy were most appreciative, saying they'd talk with their son without letting him know how they learned of his plan.
The parents of the girl, however, were livid. "How dare you eavesdrop on your son and then proceed to judge our daughter?"
Sandra vehemently attempted to explain that this was NOT what she was doing, but the parents would not or could not hear her heart. By the next afternoon, her angry son confronted Sandra. However the tension this caused in their home paled compared to the problems that arose in their small, community-style church.
Sandra had only meant to stop a possible disaster, but the misunderstanding of her motives caused what felt like a catastrophe.
Story Two: Jane and her husband thought it best that she stop working in the corporate world when their child was born. This meant money would be tight, so Jane freelanced and money always seemed to come when they needed it.
However, Jane's working friends thought she'd had lost her mind and Jane suddenly found herself thrown headfirst into what she calls "the mommy wars; working outside the home or staying with your child and caring for the home."
Moms, Jane now says, can be a rough [and misunderstanding] crowd on that issue.
Story Three: Sometimes, as a mother, you'll be misunderstood ... even long after the kids are grown and gone. One year, during the Christmas holidays, Betty's daughter and family were visiting from out of state. For several days mother and child had shopped and played and done things together.
On the last day of their visit, Betty began taking down the Christmas decorations, which-as she freely admits-it quite a job. ("I over do when it," she tells me, "when it comes to decorating, several trees, lots of garlands, etc.)
However, Betty's daughter and family wanted to go to the beach. Betty encouraged them to go, but said she would stay home and work on the decorations.
Her daughter insisted otherwise, saying they wouldn't go unless Betty went also. Tired, Betty continued to encourage them to go without her, which led to a complete misunderstanding between mother and daughter.
"It took several letters and months," Betty said in conclusion, "to work through."
What Would Mary Do?
If you are a mom who has been misunderstood, don't you feel better knowing you are in good company? Still, what examples of "handling it" can we glean from Mary's story?
For starters, we don't read anywhere that Mary ever tried to explain herself.
Secondly, we DO see that Mary stayed true to what God had called her to do: be a godly and devoted mother to His Son.
Lastly, in spite of what might have been thought or even said about her, Mary trusted God and allowed Him to work out the fine details.
So remember, the next time you are misunderstood as a mother ... you're in very good company!
Eva Marie Everson is the author of Shadow of Dreams & Summon the Shadows and an award-winning national speaker. She can be contacted for comments or speaking engagement bookings at Bridegroomsbride@aol.com or you can go to www.evamarieeverson.com