This past Sunday was our annual children's Christmas pageant, and it was everything you'd expect a children's Christmas pageant to be. But what I'm taking away from this year's pageant is a quieter moment that took place a couple of Sundays ago when, I'm sure, no one even realized I was standing there.
We have a few amazingly talented young girls in our congregation - girls who are dedicated, love Jesus, and sing with absolutely incredible voices. This year, one such young girl was chosen to play the role of Mary. I snuck in at the end of one of the rehearsals, needing to say a few words to one of the adults present, and overheard someone talking to Mary's mother. The gist of the conversation, as best as I could grab it (since I was not really listening, or trying not to listen) was that some sort of potentially major change had been made to something that Mary was expected to do, and one adult was telling the other how disciplined Mary was being, how hard she was working to accommodate the changes, how she was really doing quite the good job of it.
And young Mary, standing there between the two adults with eyes wide open, was totally cool about the whole thing. She looked up at her mother at just the moment her mother looked down at her, and she just slightly shrugged her shoulders and smiled. Everything about her declared, "I got this," but there was not an ounce of arrogance or self anywhere near that little girl. You could almost see the humble grace she had in her eyes, as if all she was thinking about at that moment was the incredible gift God had given her, the young girl that He had made her to be, and how blessed she felt to be doing what she was doing at this very moment.
It was a quiet confidence that I have to be honest, I don't think I've ever had.
I never, as a little girl, had that kind of understanding of who I was. As an adult, I'd say that I forget it more often than I remember it, although God is working on that when I'm mindful to pay attention to Him. On the rare occasion when maybe I did know, what I knew was something I never wanted to be true about me. I live a life haunted by my insecurities; I always have. And so it's always been easier for me to think about a Mary who must have been overwhelmed by the whole thing, a Mary who wrestled with what God was asking her to do, a Mary who, even when she knew, continued to be haunted by her insecurities - a young girl, a poor girl, a pregnant virgin, a whole mix of things that never could be or never should be. And trying to figure out how she...got here.
But then I saw Mary's eyes a few weeks ago, the real Mary's eyes. Brimming with confidence. Wide with anticipation. Softened by humility. This whole mix of beautiful things that are said without words. And when she opens her mouth to speak, to sing....
It's the magnificat.
I understand now how Mary turned her heart toward God, how she was able to declare My soul magnifies the Lord. My spirit rejoices in God, my Savior. There's something about her, something in her heart that says, "This is who I am." Not because she sat around figuring herself to be the kind of poor, young virgin who gets pregnant, but because she dared listen to the words God spoke about her, the words He spoke over her, and believe them. Two thousand years ago in a quiet moment and just a few weeks ago in much the same.
And I can't help but find myself praying that one day, maybe that will be me, too. That one day, my eyes, too, will sparkle with that still, small confidence of knowing who I am. Of having heard God speak and...believed Him.