Whenever I sit in church and look out at all the people in the pews surrounding me, I can’t help but swell with emotion. My voice catches in my throat as I sing, my eyes water. I think about how vulnerable we all are here, admitting that we’re all broken. I see others wipe tears during worship, or bow their head in prayer, and I remember that every person has a story, a struggle, a challenge, a cross to bear. A room full of people who show up asking for help to be better and help to love others better. When I look around, I remember that this person is battling cancer, or this person’s son is struggling with depression, or that person just lost his spouse. Some of us are battling ourselves, wrestling with our faults, hoping to be loved anyway. As the choir’s voices echo against the towering walls, the sanctuary feels warmer. The building soaks up our worries, our trials, our tribulations, lifting it from our shoulders. Our load is suddenly a little lighter. And soon we are able to piece each other back together again.
I can’t believe you chose me.
Stars sparkle in the night sky above us, glistening like jewels. A chill rides along the breeze, carrying the sweet scent of hay. Beasts shift around us while murmuring their songs.
Joseph sits beside me, and we both stare down at our sweet child, wrapped in humble cloths, lying in a manger. My new husband is silent as he reaches for my hand.
Is he feeling what I’m feeling? This immense love swelling inside my heart?
Looking at my peaceful baby boy, my first-born son, I am overcome with love. It washes over me and warms me like the glow of stars above.
But with it comes melancholy. You see, all mothers must let their children go one day. Mothers birth, nurse and raise tiny, helpless babies, but one day those dependent babes grow up into independent adolescents… and they leave. No child belongs to his mother forever.
But my child, from the moment of his conception, has not belonged to me. He has always belonged to the world.
How could I let go of someone I love so much?
I wasn’t prepared for this. There were many questions I fretted over before this birth. Am I worthy of this role? What would Joseph think? Would he leave me? And what would it feel like to give birth? Would I ever recover from the pain? What if the baby cried so much and I couldn’t console him?
But I never questioned what it would feel like to give my child to the world.
So why did The Lord choose me? Am I even strong enough to raise the Son of God? I can barely look at his sweet face without weeping. My cherished child, so precious and fragile, so loved.
Maybe… maybe this what God feels when he looks at me.
Can God possibly love me as much as I love my sweet babe? I wonder, staring at his newborn chest rising and falling. Is that why he chose me? Is that why he chose all of us?
The sound of footsteps approaching shakes me from my thoughts. Joseph rises protectively, gesturing for me to remain near Jesus. From the darkness, men emerge, and from their clothing I can see they are shepherds.
Quickly they explain themselves to Joseph, who leads them to where I sit beside the baby.
When the shepherds see the swaddled baby in his lowly manger, they exclaim that this is what the Angel of the Lord had told unto them. They repeat the words Savior, Messiah.
I can hear the sheer awe and wonder in their voices as they behold my child. It is in this moment that I feel a sense of peace.
God chose me like he chose the shepherds. Like he chose Joseph. Like he chose Jesus.
Chosen from Love. Ever abundant, unconditional, eternal love.
I lift my baby from the manger, kissing his buttery-soft cheek, and show him to the men, who bow before him.
I try to memorize this moment, treasuring the feeling of my babe against my skin before the whole world comes to celebrate his birth. I breathe in his scent, listening to the quick beating of his tiny heart.
Thank you, I whisper, for choosing me so you could choose the world.