In my day, if I wanted to increase my tennis prowess, I would watch Chris Evert Lloyd's moves on the court. When my mother cut my hair in the iconic 'Dorothy Hamill' pixie, my whole world revolved around the dream of being an Olympic skater. I watched her every skating competition, eager to pick up even the tiniest trick to hone my skills. For the record, my moves were ample for the make-believe Pond Capades but never truly worthy of the hairdo.
After it became quite apparent that sports were not my ticket to riches and fame, my attention turned to music. The hours I spent, hairbrush microphone in hand, trying to emulate Toni Tennille and Marie Osmond and later Pat Benatar and Madonna! I watched every video and never missed an interview, trying to figure out how they mastered their art and rose to stardom.
What piqued my attention to these women? There were experts. They had reached a goal I could only dream of achieving, so if I wanted to get there as well, it made only sense I would need to turn to them achieve it.
My goals have shifted slightly since the 1980s, and I've not given in to a culturally-driven hairstyle since The Rachel. My simple objective now is to know Jesus, to follow His ways, and to help lead others to Him. The skills, the knowledge, and the disposition of the heart required to achieve this end is clearly embodied in one woman. One, Jesus expert. His, and our, Mother - Mary. Unlike my role models from my childhood, Mary illustrates more than just one specialized skill set. By contemplating on how she responded to the circumstances of her life, I can discover many virtues and behaviors that can bring me to heights no tennis playing, skater champion singer ever could!
Here is just a small sampling of what I have learned from Mary, the Jesus expert:
There is no courage without fear. True courage is persevering with the task before you in face of your trepidation. This is the one thing I NEVER realized Mary would have had to embrace. I figured, her son was Jesus. She had all that grace to keep her from being worried or afraid. To me, if an angel appears to you and gives you a message from God, then you have to know you are kinda special and what is there now to fear. In removing her humanness from all my pondering of her life, I missed the beauty of all she has to teach me. When I realized she had MUCH to be fearful of – beginning with not being stoned to death due to her “seemingly un-explainable” pregnancy; moving onto a King determined to slay her newborn baby; and being present at the risk of her own life at the Crucifixion of her Son. Yet, her faith was unwavering. How, in light of all that, could I not turn to her in my own needs to teach me how to be courageous in the trials of my own life. Where do you need Mary to teach you to be heroic?
Young Mary has just received the most incredible news of her life, really in the history of the world. Unlike me, she doesn't sit around in shock pondering how crazy and yet awesome it was to be chosen by God and wondering if this was actually happening. She doesn't head to the town well to spread her good news. Mary upon hearing her 'older' cousin Elizabeth is with child and needing help; packs up her donkey and heads out of town. Compassion – the care and concern for another. The ability to see a need and then step up to assist with it. The long hot difficult trip, her own discomfort, and yes, even perhaps her own morning sickness and swollen ankles - she pushes through all of it to come to the aid of another. Humble and pure of heart, Mary's love for others is present throughout scripture. Such as protecting the bride and groom at the wedding at Cana from certain embarrassment, are at the forefront her her thoughts and more importantly her actions. Where do you need Mary to teach you to not only see where assistance is needed but also the heart to act?
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One minute you are looking at cute dresses for Easter, the next your daughter is NOwhere to be seen. For most of us, this feeling of panic lasts only a few seconds until she emerges from the clothing rack next to you. For Mary, this horror of searching her missing son lasted three days. Throughout those long days of travel and seeking for Jesus, she put her trust in God, to have any peace, she had to believe that regardless of the outcome, God was in control. Furthermore, Mary would have known the Psalms and the promises sung by David, including these words from Psalm 37:5, “Commit your way to the LORD; Trust also in Him, and He will do it.” She lived had already lived these words as Simeon foretold of her Son's future and the sword that would pierce her heart; and would again even more powerful when she would gaze upon her son on the cross. There is no one more committed to His ways than she. If I want to surrender myself humbly to the will of God; and do so with trust and hope; then Mary's example is the one to follow. With what current situation in your life do you need to put your hope in God and trust like Mary?
Copyright 2016 Allison Gingras. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Allison Gingras created the Stay Connected Journals for Catholic Women (OSV), including "The Gift of Invitation" and "Seeking Peace: A Spiritual Journey from Worry to Trust." She shares the Catholic faith with honesty, humor, and experiences from every life. Allison is the national WINE Steward for WINE: Women In the New Evangelization, and a Social Media Consultant for the Fall River Diocese and CatholicMom.com.