• Debbie Salter Goodwin

What If I Had Been Mary's Mother?


We don’t know much about Mary’s mother except that she had one. There are several ways to interpret the silence.. Maybe she had died before the angel came to Mary. Maybe that’s why Mary traveled so quickly to Elizabeth: she needed a mother figure. Or perhaps the silence comes simply from the choice to keep Mary’s story central and uncomplicated.

Still, I wonder about Mary’s mother. Did Mary tell her quickly or after she returned from Elizabeth? What did Mary’s mother think? How did Mary’s mother respond to the news about her loved and obedient daughter? How would I have responded if I had been her mother?

It is a sobering thought. I think I would have wanted my own angel visit. Wouldn't you?

I'm in the netherlands with my questions. I ask them anyway because there are countless parents who have received information about their children that they don't know what to do with. The information seems to come from nowhere, but has seizmic force to change their dreams forever.


That's why I want to put myself in the position Mary's mother found herself in. And here is what I hope I would have done.

I would grieve whatever I thought I was losing. I would have cried my tears and asked my questions of God. I hope I would have remembered what the Psalmist said when he wrote that God, Himself, bottles our tears.

I think a sadness would have held me like a straitjacket for a while. Then, with a determination that comes from the purest place in a mother’s heart, I hope I would have refused to withdraw any part of my love. I hope I would have found a way to submit to God what I could not understand so that I could do what I only I could have done--mother my daughter. with the support only a mother could give.


I hope I would have followed Joseph's lead. After all, what do you do with two messages from God that say the same thing? I know I would have been grateful that Joseph wanted to marry my daughter, whether I believed their angel stories or not. Other possibilities in that time were very limited and much less hopeful..


I hope I could have found it in my God-tended heart to extend the same love to my daughter and her intended after adjusting to the news that I would have given before.. I know I would have wanted to give nothing less than unconditional love that can only be strengthened if I would let God take care of anything I didn't understand.


While there are hopeful apocryphal stories that point to a mother named Anne who had a daughter named Mary, I believe they simply reinforce the possibility that she fulfilled the role God gave her, to love and support the daughter who was His before she was born.


I hope I would have done the same.


Christmas always uncovers weak places in family relationships. That’s reason enough to review and reflect on the story of Mary’s parents. Whatever the issues, we must let love lead. Not dreams. Not expectations. We must always remember that God has a story to write in our family circle and it always begins and ends with love.

Pictures: Priscilla Du Preez,Debby Hudsun, Unsplash

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