At some point every December, I look over at Mary. I spent my college years avoiding her as I recoiled from a confusing Catholic upbringing that left me wondering why she always came across as more important than Jesus. It bugged me–like way a lot–so I just ignored her for a while (because I can be catty like that).

Then I found myself nine-months pregnant in December. Two years in a row.


Who was all “Hail Mary, full of grace the Lord is with us and our heartburn” all advent long then? That’s right, this girl.

Becoming a mother changed my posture toward Mary, and now every year I’m thankful for the time I spend considering her place in history from yet another perspective. I’ve examined her faith, studied her obedience, wept over her sacrifice, and marveled at her joy, but it’s her silence that has my attention this December.

After giving birth to Jesus, Mary sits quietly while the shepherds tell their stories and again later when travelers from the East lavish her son with gifts. After that, we’re given no record of her complaining or raising questions when she’s told that her son is destined to suffer and die and that she will watch it all go down.

And then, as Elisabeth Elliot reminds us,“We see nothing of her for twelve years–days and nights, weeks and months, years and years of caring for the infant, the toddler, the little boy, the adolescent. There is no mention of any of that. Mary has no witness, no limelight, no special recognition of any kind. She is not Mother of the Year. Hers is a life lived in the ordinary necessity of their poverty and their humanity, no one paying attention to her attention to Him. Whatever the level of her comprehension as to the nature of this boy, she knows He was given to her. She remembers how. She treasures all this. She ponders things in the silence of her heart…she was content to be silent before God.”

No limelight. No Facebook. No Instragram. No one paying any attention to her attention to him. In a culture where Oxford Dictionaries is celebrating “selfie” as the word of the year for 2013, young mothers today can hardly fathom such smallness, such dimness, and yet Mary raised Jesus in both.

Elliott continues:

“Hers was a hidden life, a faithful one, a holy one–holy in the context of a humble home in a small village where there was not very much diversion. She knew that the ordinary duties were ordained for her as much as the extraordinary way in which they became her assignment. She struck no poses. She was the mother of a baby, willing to be known simply as his mother for the rest of her life.”

She struck no poses.

Let that jab at you a little. It’s been pushing me around all week.

Whether you are a mother or not, I know that it can often be lonely to labor and love in the dimness with no one liking or sharing your time spent at the changing table or the homework table or the conference table, but since when did so many details about those things have to be made public in order to be seen? Since when did our self-worth become so tied up in our selfies? Since when did broadcasting our blessings become more important than quietly stewarding them in the sight of God?

Perhaps since we forgot about Mary.

As I look in her direction this morning, her humility has me wondering, “If the only eyes on me throughout the day were God’s, would I be content?”

Would you?


I’m not suggesting that we all go around busting up our phones or dismantling our social media empires if our answer to that question is no, but Mary does have me thinking that our motives could use a little check; that we could all stand to pause before we post and make sure that we aren’t striking poses just to be seen by people who, quite honestly, don’t hold a candle to our creator.

So what do you think? Can we do that? Can we quiet down a wee bit this Christmas and head into the New Year knowing that we are already seen and that our ordinary lives are ordered and ordained even in the dimness? I sure hope so.

To being seen as Mary was seen,


I thank Him for her silence. That spirit is not in me at all, not naturally. I want to learn what she had learned so early: the deep guarding in her heart of each event, mulling over its meaning from God, waiting in silence for His word to her. I want to learn, too, that it is not an extraordinary spirituality that makes one refuse to do ordinary work, but a wish to prove that one is not ordinary–which is a dead giveaway of spiritual conceit. I want to respond in unhesitating obedience as she did: Anything You say, Lord.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

{All quotes taken from “The Mother of the Lord,” published in Elisabeth Elliott’s devotional archive}