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Good Mary

By Brooke Benton

Today I am thinking of Mary.

I am thinking about the unexpected pregnancy, the faith in an angel, the discomfort of traveling too many miles on dusty trails, while in labor, on the back of a donkey.

I am thinking about no room at the inn, and no place to rest her travel-weary body, and what had to have been a dirty (smelly, feral, gross) delivery, and how through all of it, she was keen upon one singular truth: that in her pain and ache, in her torment and her joy, in her sweat and her blood and the meat of all matter, she was birthing the Savior.

Do you wonder if the thought ever crossed her mind, even in a flicker of doubt or a downcast glance begrudging but silent, as to why God wasn’t making this process a little easier on her?

Surely the Savior of the world needed to come to earth in the most humblest of circumstances—that symbolism is beauty—but do you think she understood in that moment how her suffering was so requisite to the blooming tableau of His life? Do you think she ever thought, “Maybe Heavenly Father might make this a little easier on me? A bed at least?”

And then, to not be a mother and then to be a mother, suddenly burdened and ennobled with a mother-heart, do you think she sometimes felt-wide-eyed and wizened? And overwhelmed by the immense love, the later grief, the kinship and part in our ultimate blessing?

I don’t know. I think she must’ve been greater than most of us. Or was she just a girl—privy to girlish impetuousness, called upon for a greater purpose, and asked to rise above it—to be what God knew she was?

In all of this do you think she realized—before it happened—that she was making possible the redemptive future of all mankind? That her as a vessel held our greatest hope in life and over death?

Today I am thinking of Mary. I can’t stop thinking about her.

I think about how sometimes we don’t really want our blessings to be hard. We want our trials to be confined to one part (the lesser part) and our blessings to be easy. But when has this ever been the case? Aren’t blessings and hardships one and the same?

Today I am thinking about good, good Mary. And her sweaty brow, and her heaving, round hulk—that contracted and hardened, that quickened unrelenting. I’m thinking of that final moment before the final push: the ecstasy and the agony. The beauty and the burn. That feeling of impossibility; that feeling of supreme accomplishment; that happening; that ultimate release.

I am thinking of glory after anguish, and pleasure and pain, and virtue and vice, and light after what may seem dark. And I’m thinking about a star that shined on.

About Brooke Benton

(Blog Team) is attempting inner om with this writing stuff. Proud to claim four loud children, a patient husband and a fat black cat as family, she feels blessed to be their mommy-- their giver of kisses and baker of cookies. She is ever seeking a good novel and wishing for the sand between her toes, palm trees, the ocean.

30 thoughts on “Good Mary”

  1. Beautifully posed.

    I don't think Heavenly Father took away any of Mary's burdens, but I DO think that he strengthened her in some way – made it not seem as hard as it really was by helping her to see her load in the right light. It shows me that the right perspective (especially a divine one) can really make even the hardest trials bearable.

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  2. The leap from not-motherhood to motherhood is a leap of faith for all of us. I think Mary knew as much as a human could know. I don't think she could have contemplated when the angel came to announce her role what childbirth and motherhood would be life. I think it was probably an experience similar to Nephi learning about his father's dream: "I don't know the meaning of all things, but I know that the Lord loveth His children." We know that she kept the things she learned and pondered them in her heart. I imagine that was a life long pursuit, because really, who could she share her unique concerns and burdens with? I can't fathom the depth of both anguish and joy she must have felt in her very special mother role. I am always in awe of that and look to her as an example of faithful submission to the Lord's will. Did she have "how is this to be" moments beyond that first one? Probably, but I think she is a shining example of how to continue faithful and arduous service with a faithful heart and, perhaps, less than a full knowledge.

    And, oh, thank you for allowing a moment to contemplate this woman, blessed among women.

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  3. I always think about Mary at Christmas, she is special to me. I have a journal entry from 2 years ago when I was about 7 minutes pregnant again with what turned out to be the Nub this time where I talk about feeling a kinship with her of sorts. Sure she was bearing the son of God and all but still, we had a few things in common.

    Sure loved this. Sure love you.

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  4. I have to think that Mary — even though she was the mother of the Son of God — was still very much like all the rest of us. And that makes it even sweeter, because we can relate so well to what she went through. I agree with Corktree — that God strengthened her and blessed her to be able to do what she had to do. And just like Mary, that blessing is available to all of us.

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  5. I do wonder what it could have been like for her. I don't think we will ever really understand because we have the knowledge of the story that she didn't. If an angel told us we were to give birth to Christ while being an unmarried teenager, we would have a far greater understanding than Mary did. I love your thoughts about it.
    I love reading your essays.

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  6. Gorgeous, Brooke. What a lovely Christmas present this post was.

    I especially love the idea that blessings do cost us, that, with the best things in life, there is often pain mingled with the joy.

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  7. I never got the greatness of what she did until I was pregnant and had children of my own. Her story is incredible. I don't doubt for one second that at times she felt overwhelmed and cried to Heavenly Father in her grief and pain,
    "Why!?"
    Even Christ struggled with the burden he faced.
    These are the thoughts that keep me going even when I despair.

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  8. I have felt close to Mary a few times before but never so much as this Christmas season after having just lost my precious son.

    I have never commented here before, but felt such power when you said "Aren’t blessings and hardships one and the same?" They really are- in our hardships we receive blessings- in our blessings we understand our hardships. And we grow, which is in itself a blessing.

    Would that we could pass through these "blessings" without so much pain. I'm sure Mary would be a great comfort to many of us.

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  9. Lovely. Studying Mary's life has given me enormous spiritual strength these last couple of years. When Mary brought her baby to the temple, all those years before Calvary, she was told that a "sword" would "pierce through [her] soul" before it was over. We get to witness her life for 33+ years, as her influence weaves inextricably through her son's life. When Jesus, on the cross, tells his disciple to take Mary as his mother, I wonder if he isn't commending us to take her as a spiritual mother, an example of enduring to the end — through the heights and depths of mortality. To watch your son die in such a manner? She did not hide her face. That's a grace that I could learn from . . .

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  10. That was so well-written. I don't have anything poignant to say, but it is surreal to me that the images that came to mind while reading were of a mature woman and not a young girl. A teenager. That makes what took place all the more wondrous for me. Surely a teen then was similar to a teen now don't you think? To be resigned to what was taking place and have so much faith. Awe. That's the only word that describes my feelings.

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  11. Brooke,
    Thank you for this thought-provoking post. We have so few examples of women in the scriptures-but that of Mary is marvellous.

    I have two sons (both teenagers) and thinking of Mary's faithful motherhood strengthens me.

    Kinsey-so sorry to hear of your loss. Surely your heart must hve been pierced as was Mary's. God bless you.

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  12. Beautiful thoughts, Brooke. I've wondered too if Mary wondered why it couldn't be a little easier. It's such a humbling story and heavy precursor to what her Son would experience.

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  13. This post touched me profoundly. I've been struggling for months with an unexpected pregnancy and have been praying unceasingly for understanding. I only read the first paragraph of your post when this scripture came to mind. "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me". And the tears began to flow. Thank you.

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  14. In regards to seeing her as a teenager and not a fully grown woman, it wasn't until I watched the movie The Nativity that that fact really struck home for me. I recommend the movie – it isn't a church movie, but it was really quite good and I felt the spirit strongly.

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