This Christmas a startling thought crossed my mind: “I wonder if Mary ever felt like a failure as a mother?” I mean, just think about it. An angel comes to tell her that she has found favor with the Lord, and that she is going to carry and birth and raise the Son of God, who is destined to save all mankind. No pressure, right?
Mary must have believed that God is sovereign. That He is bigger than us, bigger than our mistakes, bigger than our choices. But when Mary first felt those pains of labor, did she feel panic? Was she afraid that she was “ruining” her King’s birth by welcoming Him into the world in a dirty barn? Did she worry about having enough milk, enough patience, enough time for little Jesus after his siblings were born? Did she worry that when she left Him behind at that Passover Festival that she had failed God? Did she ever lose her temper? Did she ever lose sight of God’s promise through Jesus?
I wonder how Mary felt when she saw her son crucified.
This Lent and Easter season, I have felt a little bit like a failure. I don’t know if you guys remember how crafty and thoughtful I was about Advent last year, but let’s just say I pinned a few things I made. I have always loved Christmas, but oh, Easter! Easter is even more magical to me in so many ways. I love the season of Lent: it usually narrows and clarifies my focus. Maundy Thursday is always incredibly moving. And the new life that bursts through on Easter morning! To me, Easter is the reason we even celebrate Christmas.
Well… we have been busy. It sounds like the most lame thing I could possibly say. Even though we have been busy with important things—like our adoption paperwork, and fund-raising, and family dates… I kept pushing off planning for what was really important. I lost the forest in the trees. I think of how a certain little child stood before the lion Aslan and couldn’t even articulate his excuses. What seems so important and immediate in our daily lives just pales when we come into the strength and eternal presence of our Heavenly Father.
And that is who He is.
Today I was feeling regretful about not doing more Easter devotionals myself, and with our kids. It really hit home when Dan suggested we take our kids to an Easter egg hunt so they would “start getting excited about Easter.” That should have been my job these last few weeks, right? Making activities, doing crafts and devotions, probably a countdown (on the kids calendar that still says “March”)? I want my kids to anticipate Easter with the same tingles that come with Christmas! To know and love our traditions, to understand the meaning of the day, to take time to stand in awe at the foot of the cross. This year I feel like I am racing to catch up to the cross before Jesus moves on.
But that thought makes me stop in my tracks. Jesus didn’t “move on” from the cross to chat with the folks who weren’t “too busy.” On Easter morning, Jesus sought out His friends. The ones who fell asleep when He asked them to pray for Him, the ones who denied Him, the ones who were too afraid to be known as his followers, the ones who failed Him. He pursued them and surprised them. He ate with them. He stuck with them. He reassured them and prepared them, and even left His spirit with them to guide the way.
Today I felt God interrupt my thoughts and nudge me, saying “It is about Easter Day, but it is also about Easter every day.” I will truly never be enough. I will never be a perfect Christ-follower, or wife, or friend or Mom. I may have failed with Easter crafts this year. And it’s a guarantee that I will fail in some way again. Soon. One of my best friends and I keep saying the same thing lately- how every decision we make now feels like it will affect our kids eternally. How do we choose the right orphanage to work with? Or which kind of school our children should attend? How can we make sure that they make the right friends? Will they know they are really loved? Will they understand God’s love? Sometimes it’s terrifying to be a parent. But that’s okay. God doesn’t need me to be enough. He is enough. He has a plan for my children that I cannot even imagine. And it’s not up to me to fulfill it.
It’s up to me to live every day in the light of Easter. To be ready for Jesus to surprise me wherever I am, to make time and gather up my children and my courage to come to Him—and tonight, that’s at the foot of the cross. If I see Mary there, I’ll give her a hug.
(photos were taken by Graham Foster at Warren W Willis Camp– where I first fell in love with Jesus)