The other day, I did a radio interview for a Catholic station about my book. (Also, in a related news, talking on the phone alone in my house hoping my cell phone doesn’t give out while simultaneously hoping I don’t sound like a man makes me very nervous…)
He fired question after question at me and I hoped I was keeping up, when suddenly he came to this one:
“You say in your book that you felt a solidarity with Mary-what did you mean by that?”
I paused for a moment, trying to think of just the right words to put my thoughts into place with this one, because it’s a doozy. The truth is, I struggled so much with feeling like I was being judged by other people throughout my pregnancy. Like a scarlet letter, I felt like my pregnant belly stuck out like a giant reminder of my sin, an open invitation for others to assume that they knew just what type of girl I was.
Try as hard as I might, for a girl that was so used to being the “good girl” and being judged for my smarts and my impressive extracurricular activities and my seemingly perfect life, nothing could overcome what I felt was the stigma of walking around with that belly, especially sans ring on my left hand.
But around Christmastime, just when I was starting to pop and feeling particularly sorry for myself, Ben and I went to a Christmas Mass and the priest gave an entirely different sort of talk that night.
That night, sneaking a few direct looks at me, although I may or may not have met his eyes, it felt like he was addressing me with a speech he gave about how, although God could have chosen any way to bring his son into the world, he chose one woman-
One, young, poor, unmarried woman.
And I realized in that moment, that it didn’t matter what anyone else thought. It didn’t matter if people nudged each other and whispered when I walked by; it didn’t matter if people thought I was a person of illicit morals.
I realized that Mary (no matter your beliefs on her or not, imagine this scene with me) must have felt the same way I did-slowly picking her way to the water hole, indignantly holding her head up while the elders of the village shook their heads at her.
“Immaculate conception, my foot!” (laughs all around)
The judgement, the stares, the feelings of shame-those didn’t matter.
What mattered was between me and my God.
And I’m certainly not trying to say that I am at the same level of Mary or that the origins of our conceptions were of the same merit. Not even close.
All I’m saying is that God could have chosen anywhere, anytime, and anyone to send a message with his beloved son.
But the message I heard loud and clear?
Keep your judgements to yourself.
Image via ecastro/Flickr