As we wrap up National Stress Awareness Month, working moms can learn a few lessons from Mary the mother of Jesus. Can you imagine the stress involved in raising the Son of God? Mary arguably has the hardest job of any mother, and she gives us an amazing blueprint for stress management. Here are three key lessons from her journey.
Lesson No. 1: God Chooses the Assignment
Mary doesn’t “sign up” to be the mother of Jesus. She likely plans to lead a quiet, simple life. A life without drama and turmoil, married to a carpenter in a small town. Clearly, Mary is going about her own business – even trying to fly under the radar — when God interrupts her plans.
God, I didn’t sign up for this assignment! Yes, I’ve always wanted to be a wife and mother. I’ve always wanted a son. But I didn’t sign up for this!
Yet this isn’t Mary’s response. She may not understand, but she is willing. She just says “yes.”
“I am the Lord’s servant.” (Luke 1:38)
It’s really that simple. God knows how and when to interrupt. It’s usually when we least expect it. Not only does he have impeccable timing, he has a specific child that he wants us to raise. His tells Mary that she will have a son – a son that he knows by name and loves deeply. A son that will change the face of history forever.
Like Mary, we don’t have to worry about the assignment. God has a plan.
Lesson No. 2: Ponder, Don’t Nag
The wonder of motherhood blows us away. Yet we soon move beyond wonder to stress. We feel the need to “nag” – to control our children and constantly intervene.
Again, Mary has much to teach us. This is a woman who ponders—she doesn’t push or nag.
It’s after the annual trip to Jerusalem for the Passover. After the feast, Mary and Joseph start to make the journey back home, assuming Jesus is traveling behind with relatives. They travel for a whole day until they realize he isn’t with them!
No doubt it’s a traumatic experience for Mary. So what does she do? Did she lock Jesus up? Did she forbid him to ever leave home again?
To the extent Mary wants to be in control, she must let go. To the extent she wants to worry, she must relinquish. Luke chapter 2, tells us two things: (1) she “did not understand” Jesus’ actions (v. 50) and (2) she “treasured all these things in her heart” (v. 51).
In other words, she doesn’t freak out, even though she lacks understanding about her son. And while she ponders things deeply, she doesn’t overreact.
Lesson No. 3: Learning to Let Go
Mary teaches us the hardest lesson of all – we must let go our children. Again and again.
When Mary says yes to God, she is letting go of every plan she ever had about her future. She quickly learns that hanging on to Jesus—the very thing that Mary wants and needs to do—is the one thing she can’t do. Ever since Jesus was a boy, she has practiced letting go.
Mary shows us that letting go doesn’t mean giving up our influence. In fact, it frequently involves exerting our influence over our children. Notice how she quietly yet firmly nudges Jesus to perform his first miracle.
When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”
“Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.”
His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2: 3-5)
Mary is so subtle that it’s easy to miss her action. She has known for years that Jesus is no ordinary son—for thirty years. She has held Jesus in her arms and watched him grow. She has watched him toil in a carpenter shop. She has seen God at work to mold him into a man. And she can now see that Jesus is ready.
Mary shows us that more often than not, parenting involves putting aside our own agenda.
Yet in letting go – and letting God have control – we take the burden off of our shoulders and place it where it belongs – on God’s shoulders.
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest….For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt 11:28,30)
God, thank you that we don’t have to be consumed by stress and worry. Thank you that you choose the assignment and give us he privilege of raising our children. Like Mary, we pray that we would learn how to let go. Help us to stop stressing and start blessing.
How does Mary teach you to manage stress and worry?