“Oh Mom, I just love this magical time of year. It’s so cozy with lights, hot chocolate, movies and our special family traditions!” My heart warmed as I agreed with our youngest daughter. So when our Sunday school moderator asked me as their Mentor Mom, “How do you keep the Christmas story fresh for your children?” I knew he didn’t mean, “Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas.” I have been convicted that if the Advent story isn’t fresh to me, how will it continue to come alive for our children? 

Based on historical culture and traditions at that time, I’ve reimagined the Christmas story through Mary’s possible perspective, and it has stirred my soul in new ways. I hope it’s fresh to you as well as you read it out loud.

I could not believe my father finally arranged it. It seemed too good to be true. Joseph — for me? I’ve heard he’s kind and gentle of heart, but out of all the girls in the village, I can’t believe he agreed to marry me, so yes, I’ve been doing a lot of daydreaming about my betrothed. Who wouldn’t?

On an ordinary day, my whole life changed suddenly. One minute, I was doing the wash, thinking of the babies we’d have, imagining making our home with Joseph’s carpenter’s shop around back and the excitement in our children’s eyes the first time they’d see the Temple, when suddenly, the brightest light shone from the middle of my room. At first, I covered my eyes and hid my face from the being.

Then he said, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.”

“Certainly you are talking to the wrong person, I am just a girl from Nazareth. You couldn’t possibly want me. Besides, I am a virgin. This is impossible!”

But it wasn’t a mistake. Me, a common girl, from the middle of nowhere, had been chosen by the most high God to bear the Promised Messiah. How can I even understand this honor? This is the king that all of Israel has prayed for and here I am — uncommon enough to bear the Messiah, God’s tool to deliver Israel?

My mind couldn’t grasp this. We all expected a military hero, a warrior, a rich king ruling a nation, and yet He’d arrive as a babe through my womb. Such a simplistic entrance for a king?

But what should I tell Joseph? My parents? They’ll never believe me. I don’t even believe it myself.

It’s been days since I first heard my news. Tears still stream down my face as I think of my parents’ reaction. I’ve brought shame to my family, and I’ve shattered my poppa’s heart. His little girl no longer; he wouldn’t even believe me. Friends I’ve known since childhood won’t speak to me. I’ve been called horrible names I don’t understand, and when I asked my momma what the words meant, she wouldn’t even look me in the eyes.

And Joseph, my dear Joseph. My body trembled as I watched the anguish on his face. Grief, then sadness, and ultimately betrayal tore through him as I recounted the angel’s story. I needed him to believe me, but at first, he didn’t. That isn’t my story to tell, but ask Joseph about it sometime — it’s a good one.

Well, here I am now. I still can’t believe I made it all the way to Bethlehem nine months pregnant. I was so exhausted. My whole body ached from riding on that donkey, and I’m sure that’s what started my pains. I just knew it was that time. I tried to ignore the fact that my family wouldn’t be around to help me. I desperately wanted my momma. Please, don’t tell Joseph that, but I was so scared he wouldn’t know what to do if we had complications. I couldn’t believe we’d welcome the Holy One amidst this mess.

But when Jesus finally came, I forgot all my worries.

As I looked down at my son, my Redeemer, I knew this child of promise would change the world. He had already changed me. I snuggled him close and rubbed my cheek against his soft, downy head. I inhaled deeply and couldn’t get enough of that newborn smell. Yes, even amidst the filth, hay and cow dung odor, this little guy was perfect.

And then Joseph asked to hold him. As those large, calloused carpenter hands picked up our baby boy, any doubts he once had were pushed aside. He snuggled Jesus close to his chest and wept. Wept with love, wept with relief, wept with the weight of what had been asked of us.

I wanted to savor these moments because I knew we had such a short time together. I knew that this precious baby of ours, now swaddled in the only dirty cloths I could find, would soon leave us. I knew this baby Christ child was our Hope for the world and that His arrival had been prophesied for this time, but I wanted more time.

Jesus is the Good News, the blessing and glory, I get that, but I also know the ultimate goal, and right now, my momma heart can’t go there. Don’t make me. Let me savor this time. This time of Hope. Let me have just these few moments with my baby boy before I share Him with the world.

As I’ve told this story to our kids, I’ve continued to “walk” with Mary onto and through the crucifixion, and I’ve been reminded, “Are we pointing the Christmas story back to the cross?”

In the midst of this most wonderful time of the year, Christ was born to die so that we might have abundant life — life to the fullest. That’s the real Christmas story, and I pray you and I will remember and live out the depth and joy of that story this holiday season.

Originally shared at (In)courage.me