Motherhood, probably more than anything else in life, teaches us to say yes. Indeed, there are a million and one yeses in motherhood, all of them held together in the tension of unspeakable love and piercing swords, both large and small: yes to carrying new life; yes to the physical discomfort of a rapidly changing body; yes to painful birth, tender scars, and sore breasts; yes to being unable to conceive; yes to miscarriage; yes to adoption; yes to a willful two-year-old, three-year-old, or teen; yes to indescribable love for a new baby; yes to caring for a sick child; yes to countless nights of praying for a reckless young adult; and yes to practicing repeatedly and then rejoicing over a first step and every first step thereafter.
I had always thought of motherhood as “doing” something, such as getting pregnant, bringing home a baby, loving and fashioning a little heart and soul, and forming and directing another’s life. I now understand that motherhood is meant to “do” something to us: form and fashion us, awaken and enrich us, strip and heal us, and teach us to become women of prudence, patience, and perseverance, as it trains us constantly in the art of consent. Much like the practice of prayer, motherhood holds the potential to mold us into beings who are receptive to God and to others, into persons who become ever more capable of living a life-giving, love-expanding yes.
Mary is the icon of humanity precisely because she reveals to us how to say yes to God. She shows us what a profound effect authentic human surrender can have— both on us and on the world around us, giving us a window through which to see how divine activity is supposed to play out in human affairs. Mary illustrates for us in living color the way in which all human beings are purposed to relate to God, teaching us what it looks like to open our hands, hearts, and bodies to him to allow the divine presence to penetrate and transform us and the entire created realm.
Mary’s life teaches us that we are meant to be actively receptive to God, to his grace and to his will. Active receptivity is the ability to at once surrender and receive. It sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s not. We must actively surrender to God in order to receive what he has for us.
Why? We must do so because surrender involves the critical gesture of opening our hands. Hands clamped tight, holding on to our will and our ways, leave no room for God’s gifts.
The greatest gift ever given to mankind—the Redeemer, the God-man, Jesus Christ—came forth in response to the surrendered yes of a woman. Mary demonstrates just how pivotal our assent is and how imperative it is that we learn to hear and readily respond to the voice of God.
Reprinted from Mary’s Way: The Power of Entrusting Your Child to God by Judy Landrieu Klein with the kind permission of Ave Maria Press.
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Copyright 2016 Judy Klein