I held my husband’s hand as I lay in the doctor’s office, marveling at the grainy image before us. After a struggle with infertility, it was a delight to watch the ultrasound technician type, “HI MOM AND DAD” on the screen. We were looking back at the videos we had recorded on our phones when the technician returned and asked us to follow her.
As we sat in a separate waiting area in the back of the doctor’s office, dread washed over me. My stomach turned with the same anxious ache I used to feel outside the principal’s office as a teenager.
In his office, the doctor turned his computer screen toward us, pointing out measurements and using words like abnormal, risk, and trisomy. I glanced at my husband, who just moments before had been brimming with excitement—his face had fallen.
From that moment and through the weeks that followed, my mind overflowed with questions. I was frustrated with myself and with God for letting this kind of anxiety plague what should have been a happy time. I wanted to know why this was happening to my family, and I begged Him to give us answers, whatever they might be—even with all the luxuries of modern technology, we couldn’t be certain what would happen next.
In my fear and frustration, I turned to Scripture, and the Lord gently nudged me toward Mary’s story. With fresh eyes, I explored the experience of a young woman called to an overwhelming task, and I found myself with questions even for the mother of our Savior.
I was frustrated with myself and with God for letting this kind of anxiety plague what should have been a happy time.
I wanted to know if she felt burdened when Simeon stopped her in the temple, taking her baby into his arms. When he looked at Mary and told her that her soul would be pierced, did it create more worry, or did it confirm what she already knew—that her son was set apart, destined for something she could not comprehend?
As we navigated my pregnancy, another round of abnormal results begat more tests and intimidating words. We waited each day for a phone call confirming or denying our fears and struggled to remain present. We obsessed over the hypothetical, taking out life insurance policies and examining our budget against every scenario we could imagine. We were mourning for the welfare of someone we had never met and didn’t know if we would ever get to meet.
Mary knew she was chosen for this, set apart for something magnificent that would bring glory to God Himself. And while she was quite specifically equipped, she was also endowed with the instincts all mothers have. I can see this first-time mom playfully doting on her son—feeding those first bites of food, sharing bedtime snuggles, and exchanging sweet smiles. But even with her awareness of God’s purpose, did she ever question His plan as she followed Jesus toward the cross? Did Mary ever feel powerless?
Even with Mary’s awareness of God’s purpose, did she ever question His plan as she followed Jesus toward the cross?
She stood at the foot of the cross, surrounded by the other women who followed Him. They were risking their lives to be there, but Mary didn’t flee or look away. She looked upon the face of the man she had carried for nine months and birthed in a filthy stable. Throughout her journey alongside Him, she remained steadfast. And so she remained, even in the moments when He took His last earthly breath.
As mothers often do, the women with Mary also endured in the face of immense grief and fear, anointing Him at His grave, keeping watch, and probably wondering what was next. It must have been a confusing gift when, on that Sunday morning, the Lord revealed Himself to them—these bearers of life—creating joy and still more questions.
Months have passed since I went through those tests, and I can’t think of a more perfect image of what it is to be called to motherhood—an overwhelming joy, a little bit of fear, and an abundance of questions. My son, who was born healthy, now ambles around as little ones do, stopping to pick something up or laugh at our pets, and it’s easy to get lost in wondering what is next. But the Lord equips us as He calls us. Ordinary people are called to extraordinary things as He wills. And in the midst of even the greatest fear, I can find reassurance in that.
Illustration by Jack Richardson