The Holy Family (Mary, Joseph and Jesus) is such an awe-inspiring bunch! When I think of the perfect family, those three are at the top of the list. So this weekend when I was at church and I heard the reading from Luke 2:41-51, I was left with my mouth wide open.
Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when He became twelve, they went up there according to the custom of the Feast; and as they were returning, after spending the full number of days, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem.
But His parents were unaware of it, but supposed Him to be in the caravan, and went a day’s journey; and they began looking for Him among their relatives and acquaintances. When they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem looking for Him.
Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers. When they saw Him, they were astonished;
And His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You.”
And He said to them, “Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?”
But they did not understand the statement which He had made to them. And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart.
The perfect family looked a lot like my family (and we are FAR from perfect). I could feel Mary’s anxiety like I had just experienced it yesterday (which I had). Oh too well did I empathize with Mary’s feeling. The one where I am worried sick and my child starts talking to me like I am stupid (Why is it that you were looking for me?). Duh. I was looking for you because I love you! I was worried! I was anxious about what would happen to you! I felt Mary’s pain. I have a child just like this. She is wonderful and kind and loving. She is independent and smart. She also is a handful, exhausting and makes me anxious all the time. Until this Sunday, I never put it together how Mary must have felt when Jesus spent 3 days in Jerusalem by himself. For me, just putting myself in Mary’s place, I could see the picture become quite clear. Here is how I imagine it going down for me:
I thought she was in your car.
Oh my gosh! We left her! We have to go back now!
What have we done? How could we leave her?
As we return back to the spot that we assume we left her, we find Kate. My heart which has been rapidly pounding for 3 days, finally melts as I see my baby.
Kate, why didn’t you get in our car? (expecting her to cry and sob)
Mom, why were you looking for me? I was here with my friends and family. Why are you so worried? You should have known I was here.
The boiling point in my body is rising rapidly. I can barely contain my anger. Are you kidding me? I was scared to death for days about you. I felt guilt that I hadn’t noticed you were gone. I have replayed the scenario 100 times in my head trying to figure out what I did wrong. I couldn’t imagine how scared you must have been while we were gone. I couldn’t bare the fact that you were sobbing somewhere and maybe kidnapped by some maniac. I practically killed myself thinking about the “what ifs.” And now you are asking me why I was so worried! I will give you worried, missy!
Now, let’s face it, Mary was a little nicer than me. She is perfect in all forms – that is how God created her so she is worthy to be his son’s mother. I am not perfect, so my reaction is a little more filled with sin (because I am a sinner). For the first time though, I realized the love that Mary felt for her son. It was obvious in her reaction that she was scared for his whereabouts. She knew she had given birth to the Savior of the World. She also probably knew that from birth through the rest of his life – he was a “marked man.” People were looking for him. I am sure she wasn’t prepared to lose him at the young age of 12. My guess is she was asking God to please not take him yet. Please allow her to have him just a little longer. She loved him so much. When we are scared, most of us turn to God. When we are full of anxiety, most of us turn to God. Mary, I am sure turned to God.
I guess what this all told me is that my life is just normal. Even though I think I am the only one that experiences these difficult child rearing years, I am not. Even Mary experienced it. When I think I am making hard choices as a mother, there are others around me that can empathize. We all try our best as parents to raise our kids to be the best possible person. As a Christian, I pray that my kids will follow Christ in all of their choices and I try to model that (although sometimes I fail miserably). For thousands of years people have been parenting kids with these same ideals. What Mary reminded me was that we all experience these hard times in parenting. The important part about the entire scenario is the end when it says, “Jesus continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart.” Jesus respected his parents and their decisions (even though he didn’t always understand their choices or actions). Mary treasured her life that God had given her. She thanked God for the blessings of parenthood and treasured it in her heart even in the difficult moments (when you think you are going to lose your cool). As a parent, I know that I have to ask for God’s help because I cannot do it alone. I cannot survive without His strength. I want my scenario to look and end more like Mary’s. I want to step back and treasure parenthood in my heart (not raise my boiling point until I explode – although sometimes that is unavoidable). I want to find time for God, so that He is right there with me throughout the journey of parenthood (which by the way NEVER ends).
So take time to thank God for the good and the bad of parenthood today.