Oh, Mama Mary! Did You Know?

mary The virgin birth of Jesus touches me in a very female way in relating to sweet Mary as a mother.  Any mother beholding those scenes of recent Jesus movies of Mary watching her beloved Son tortured and murdered on that cross can’t help but feel the deep emotions and horror that Mary felt as she watched and fell at His feet sobbing.

It really happened!

No words to describe it!

So many questions.

We don’t know much about her.  We know she was young and poor and a devout believer in God.  And at the time of the angels announcement of her pregnancy she is in love with Joseph.

What God asks Mary to do will change her life forever.  She was just a teenager.

Gone are the happy dreams of a beautiful wedding; gone are the days of sweet anticipation; gone are the carefully-thought out plans for the wedding feast; gone are the hopes for “the most beautiful wedding to the most wonderful man who ever lived”; gone are all her girlish hopes of a quiet life in the home she would personally decorate.

She will be married, but not before rumors spread through the countryside.  There will be a wedding feast, but not the way she planned.  She will have a home, and it will be filled with children, but over her family will rest an uneasy cloud of dark questions.

It will all happen, but not the way she expected.

7_mary-gabriel“Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary quite simply did not know what to make of it.  It’s as if someone you’ve never seen came up to you and said, “Good news.  This is your lucky day.  God has chosen you for a special blessing.”  How do you respond to that?

CONGRATULATIONS!  YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE A BABY!”

But that’s not the half of it.  Without a pause, Gabriel proceeds to tell her something that–to use a 21st century term Mary almost certainly wouldn’t have used–blows her mind.  He tells her she’s going to have a baby.  And not just any baby.  She’s going to give birth to the Son of God.

She only has one question, a technical matter she would like cleared up: “How can this be”, Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”  This is a perfectly natural question.  Mary is betrothed but not formally married.  She has never had sexual relations with any man.  How then can she become pregnant and bear a son?

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.  So the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God.”

The key point in Gabriel’s explanation is that what is about to happen to Mary will be the result of the direct intervention from God.

The Holy Spirit is the agent of the Virgin Birth; overshadowing is the means of the Virgin Birth; the Son of God is the result of the Virgin Birth.

7296601_f520NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD

In the history of the church, Mary has often been portrayed as a kind of misty, other-worldly figure.  If you look at some of the great paintings of Mary, they make her look so peaceful and beatific that you almost forget she was a real person.  But Luke makes it clear that she was very real, with very real doubts, very real questions and very real faith. Nowhere is this seen with more clarity than in Luke:

“I am the Lord’s servant”, Mary answered.  “May it be to me as you have said.”  Then the angel left her.

Mary said Yes.  Yes to God, Yes to the impossible, Yes to the plan of God.

And all these things were just the beginning.  Mary could not know what the future would hold.  Before it was all over, she would experience heartache, opposition, slander, confusion, anguish, despair and loneliness.

In the end she would face the greatest pain a mother can endure when she would watch her son die on a cross.  She was changed when she conceived Him through the power of the Holy Spirit, but, I believe, nothing could have prepared her for that horrific night of watching her first born baby boy, who only loved, die a tortuous death. 

10363854_377819679023936_7543693983379870990_nShe would never forget it and it changed her….but, then again, not as much as three days later seeing Him come back in all of His glory!

What a story!

Mary didn’t know the full cost of saying yes that day.  But having made her decision she never looked back.

When God said, “Are you willing to believe the impossible?”, Mary said, “Yes I am!”  Without that Yes, there would be no Christmas.

A WOMAN GOD COULD TRUST

What about your ‘yes’?

Mary said Yes to shame and glory; she said Yes to God’s power; she said Yes to the impossible.

If somehow Mary could be here today and we could ask her, “Was it worth it?”, she would say “Yes”, I am sure of it.  Because now she knows that because of her obedience we are free– because she allowed God to use her to bring our Savior. 

So then, how do I relate to Mary’s example in this century?  What can I learn from her today?  How can I live my life through her example?

♥  She is a model of openness to great possibilities.  Can I be open to great possibilities in my life?  Supernatural possibilities?

♥  She is a model of faith in the face of many natural doubts.  Can I believe God when the natural way of things look like there is no other way?

It’s still true that “Nothing is impossible with God”.  That’s as true today as it was 2,000 years ago.  It’s also true that somebody has to say Yes or else the impossible will never happen.

I have no doubt that some of you reading this…

Are carrying heavy burdens today.

And Christmas will be lonely this year.

  • Some of you are facing a financial crisis that looks hopeless to you right now.

  • Some of you are out of work and don’t have a single lead on a good job.

  • Some of you are looking at a marriage that seems worse than hopeless.

  • Some of you are estranged from members of your own family.

  • Some of you have children who are far away from God.

  • Some of you feel lonely and far away from God yourselves.

The list goes on and on.  But all these things have this in common:

gods gloryThey seem impossible to solve by any human means.  If human means would have solved your problems, they would have been solved long ago.

But, if nothing else, allow Mary’s story to revive your faith this Christmas season to the God of the impossible.  He is not oblivious to your pain and your need.  Live in the realm of the supernatural because we are spiritual beings.

Focus on His capabilities and not your own.  He loves you and you matter!

kids Bible story of Jesus born in BethlehemChristmas is all about miracles.  They happened 2,000 years ago; they still happen today.

*”Mary did you know, that your  baby boy will someday walk on water?  Mary did you know, that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?  Did you know, that your baby boy has come to make you new?  This child you’ve delivered will soon deliver you. 

Mary did you know, that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?  Mary did you know, that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?  Did you know, that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?  And when your kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God.

Oh Mary did you know?

The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb.

Mary did you know, that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know, that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?

Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you’re holding is the great I AM.”

 

*Mary Did You Know; Mark Lowry: wrote the lyrics in 1984, and the music was written in 1991 when he gave it to Buddy Greene.

Just Shoot Me Now! 2 Ways to Heal Shame Wounds

hidingYears ago I was at Santa Barbara City College to witness my friend’s graduation as an X-ray Technician.  The campus was teaming with people that day for there were many students getting various degrees and licenses in their particular fields.  The event was outside and I sat down on the cold metal chair and then realized I had a while to wait so ventured off across campus to find the restrooms.  

I wore a long skirt that day.  After using the restroom hurriedly, I started the long walk back to my chair.  The whole way there people were staring at me weird.

Some had smirks on their faces and some looked away in disgust.  I couldn’t figure out what their problem was and one time I even shot a dirty look back at some guy, like he had a problem or something.  I passed many people on the way back to my chair and they all looked away when I would smile at them. 

When I finally sat down I felt intensely cold metal on my back side and glanced back.  My skirt in the back was completely tucked inside my underwear and my entire back side was exposed to all the ‘millions’ of people that I passed on the way back.  No one had the nerve to tell me! 

Just shoot me now!

I find it very funny now.  Add it to my list of escapades that have provided many chuckles in my story telling on myself. 

But back then I wasn’t as healthy, and had not dealt with much of my denial and secrets of years past born out of being a victim of childhood sexual abuse.  I sat there the whole event cloaked in shame and embarrassment.  I felt exposed and uncovered the whole day and I felt like a child inside with no self esteem who just wanted to run. 

64658_465671946828692_1306119874_nShame is an emotion in which the self is perceived as defective, unacceptable, or fundamentally damaged.  Shame is often confused with guilt, which is a related but distinct emotion in which a specific behavior is viewed as unacceptable or wrong, rather than the entire self.

Brene Brown says, “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it.  Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable.  Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” 

Shame is darkness to our soul.  We need to learn to recognize it and then let it go into the light of His presence in us.

People who experience traumatic events, mostly in childhood, are prone to shame, particularly if they blame themselves for the event.

Shame gives you a desire to hide, disappear, or even die.

Have you ever done anything you’re not proud of, like feigning a headache to get out of a dinner or snapping at your partner in a heated moment?  You mess up, like we all do, and when it happens, you probably feel guilty and convicted to make it right.

Guilt is a normal emotion that people experience when they believe they have caused harm or actually done something wrong.  We all make mistakes and those mistakes often affect other people, therefore we feel guilt. 

Or there is unfounded guilt, the worst kind.  We could come from a family that used guilt to manipulate us all of our lives.  Such as, “Okay go the movies son, but if I am dead in my chair when you get back, just bury me out back.”

Now that evokes guilt.  Any dutiful son would cancel his plans so that he won’t be responsible for causing Dad to die.  The motivation is guilt.  But that son will carry anger in his heart, and left undealt with, will be with him through adulthood.

Or how about going to see an elderly parent.  The first thing they say to you is “Where have you been?  Why haven’t you come to see me?”  More guilt, instead of rejoicing that you are there now.  The guilt can be so horrible it makes you not want to visit them at all.

But, If your feelings of guilt cause daily anxiety or are out of proportion to the actual mistakes you have made, you might be suffering from an even more toxic emotion:

Shame.

Shame is what I felt that day I was exposed to the world.

Shame is commonly confused with guilt.  People who experience shame often feel bad for every little error they make, and are in a constant state of fear of making more.  For this reason, they feel fear around authority figures, judge themselves harshly, and have a low sense of self esteem.

Guilt says I have done something wrong.

Shame says I AM something wrong.

553486_415888875110718_1880467937_nShame is toxic.

Shame can strip away the joy and freedom that you deserve to experience in your walk.

Shame most often stems from a wounded part of you that was convinced in childhood that you weren’t enough.  Though this is not the truth, it may feel that way, as beliefs that you carry for decades become your reality.

Shame can play a very powerful and negative role in your life, but it doesn’t have to.  God can heal your feelings of shame and you can start living a happier and more empowered life. 

One of the most powerful techniques to healing shame is to practice self compassion.  We need to love ourselves.  How do we do that?

  1. We begin to treat ourselves and talk to ourselves with the same kindness, caring and compassion we would show a good friend or a beloved child.  We find out what God says about us as His precious children and begin to confess that over ourselves in spite of what we feel.  We will eventually begin to believe it.  It will sink into your mind and renew your mind to truth rather than what you have believed all of your life.

When we practice this, it helps us to feel less isolated and alienated from others.  The more shame we feel, the more deficient we feel and in turn, the more separate we feel from others.

  1. Now say those words out loud to yourself.  Take a deep breath and really take in those words.  How does hearing yourself say those words out loud make you feel?  Can you feel your faith grow in your own value in the Kingdom of God.  

The more you practice this the more you will believe it.  Oh, there will be triggers, (like my skirt incident), that will bring back those old familiar feelings, but pay them no attention…pull out those scriptures and start saying them over yourself again.  Sing them over yourself if you feel inclined.  Get them into your spirit and renew your mind!

brokenchainsYou deserve to be free to allow God to lead you into a life of freedom you truly love and to feel worthy of having it.

dixie1For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Eph 2:10 NLT)

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.  Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!   Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.  You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.”  NLT(Psalm 139:13-15).

For help with shame issues I would be honored to coach you into freedom.  You can contact me on this web site from the home page.