I’m pretty sure that’s not how Mary said Yes. At first, I thought maybe it was, that maybe she, like me, smiled and said Yes to God before she really thought about what that Yes would entail.
"Yes, sure," I imagine her replying to Gabriel, "I’ll give this Mother of God gig a whirl. When do we start?"
What’s false about that image of Mary’s Yes is that it brings her down to my level. Often, that’s just what I need, to pull my idea of her off the pedestal of dogmas and get it down to my eye level. In this case, however, I’m not representing her accurately.
Mary embraced her vocation and encourages each of us to do the same. Instead of a lukewarm affirmative, she very possibly danced and laughed out loud as she said YES! I don’t think she hesitated, because in that I think there would have to be doubt.
If anything, Mary’s Yes shows complete trust in God and teaches me what that means for my life.
Mary was more responsible in her Yes than I often am in mine. She would have been well-versed enough to know that the Messiah would be the man of sorrows. If she wasn’t sure, surely Simeon’s words at the Presentation gave her a bit of a forewarning.
All the same, she continued to say Yes. God asked, she replied.
Don’t you love people you can count on? Don’t you find yourself inspired by their generosity and willingness?
God does too, and He gives us Mary’s Yes as the standard to use for our own decisions. I think of it as a Yes Factor.
There are three aspects to my Yes Factor which I try to use to be more like Mary when I say Yes.
Will I grow closer to God by saying Yes? God doesn’t ask us to say Yes to things that take us away from Him. Sometimes, though, His idea of "growing closer" is a bit different than mine. There are times when I wish I didn’t have so much "help" with the dishes, because if they were done, I could do something else. But I can grow closer to God thanks to that small person helping if I take a different view and open myself to an ongoing Yes, as Mary did throughout her life.
Am I certain about this Yes? Sometimes I won’t be, and that’s OK. In fact, for me, sometimes that immediate certainty is a red flag, a sign of brashness. Most of the time, though, I can tell, with a little time, based on the level of peace I have about saying Yes. It might be an impossible task or an insurmountable challenge, but saying Yes will be the way God carries me through it, which leads me to…
Have I prayed about saying Yes? In some images of the Annunciation, Mary is shown praying. We should all be inspired by that and learn a lesson from it. Yes is not to be said lightly, and whether it’s Yes to new tires or Yes to a new job, God’s open to our conversation. In fact, He wants it. I try to remember the little things right along with the big things, to talk to God throughout the day as I make the decisions that seem unimportant as well as those that are life-altering.
What does your Yes Factor look like? How can you make those three letters be a chance to grow to be more like Mother Mary?
Copyright 2010 Sarah Reinhard
About the Author
When she’s not chasing kids, chugging coffee, or juggling work, Sarah Reinhard’s usually trying to stay up read just one…more…chapter. She writes and works in the midst of rural farm life with little ones underfoot. She is part of the team for the award-winning Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion, as well as the author of a number of books. You can join her for a weekday take on Catholic life by subscribing to Three Shots and follow her writing at Snoring Scholar.