By Nichole Woo | Website
I’ve read her ancient script a million times. If I’m really honest, what’s to admire? She was everyday, unaccomplished – conventional at best. She had her brief blip on the radar in Bethlehem. But, a few sentences later, she slips silently back into history. Mary never made waves or rocked boats; her passively-soluble life dissolved into the wider world. Hers was a story of submission: Compliant and well-behaved – the kind lived by women that seldom make history, or bumper stickers.
She’s the converse of the story I crave.
I long for stories of a louder, bolder, more meaningful existence – the kind bequeathed me as a 21st century woman. I ache for extraordinary; like that other Mary whose captivated imaginations for hundreds of years. We often see her slipping in and out of pop culture, and once again into the box office this season.
This Queen of Scots was anything but ordinary. Her life reads like an epic novel rather than a historical footnote. She was striking, accomplished – unconventional. In her 44 short years, Mary traversed the political-religious land mines around her, achieving the titles of Queen Consort of France, Queen of Scotts, and mother to the future king of England. There were scandals, a handful of husbands, murders, implications, imprisonments and escapes. There were plenty of missteps, but those just thickened the plot. Her life and legacy are legendary.
It calls to me in my own story – even more so at Christmas, when my soul searches for exceptional. I want the unrivaled light display outside (I almost lost an eye this year) and the stunning tree inside (to the back with the hand-made “ornaments”!). I want my kids to look cute, not constipated, in our Christmas picture. I want to get and give the perfection oozing out of every holiday ad I’ve seen since October. I don’t want my Christmas narrative to disappoint, like a Chia-Pet afterthought, unwrapped on Christmas morning. I’m graduating from “mundane Mary,” to shiny, Lexus-with-the-gigantic-red-bow-Mary-extraordinary.
A Tale of Two Marys
Digging deeper into the lives of these leading ladies and juxtaposing them unearthed truths that made we think again. True, both are part of royalty, yet each pursues drastically different treasure.
- One sought adulation, the other risked humiliation. (Matthew 1:18-19)
- One played for power, the other became a bondservant. (Luke 1:38)
- One exalted herself, the other her Lord. (The Magnificant, Luke 1:46-56)
- Queen Mary championed her “divine” right to rule, the other, a Divine Ruler. (Luke 1:45)
- Both had a cousin, named Elizabeth. Queen Elizabeth I of England was vulnerable, without an heir. So, Mary betrayed her, plotting to take her throne. Elizabeth of Judah, too, was childless and advanced in years. Upon experiencing a miraculous pregnancy of her own, she joyfully proclaimed her cousin mother of the King. (Luke 1:41-44)
- Queen Mary, too, had a son. But James abandoned her, the goal of kingship in his crosshairs (eventually becoming James I or England). Amidst the chaos of crucifixion, from the agony the cross, Jesus sought his mother’s protection through His disciple, John. She would not be abandoned, though He was. He was crucified “King of the Jews,” but rose and reigns the King of Kings.
The Queen treasured a life of earthly power. In the end, she lost both to the blocks. The Virgin treasured the unfolding of Someone else’s power. (Luke 2:19)
A blip on history’s radar: “Ordinary Mary,” yet seen through the centuries as God’s “favored one,” counted by all generations since as blessed. Her humility and belief bore a Legacy greater than any other, her flesh cradling the Word who became flesh, the Savior-King. Two Marys: One made her mark on history, the other on eternity.
In our quest for extraordinary (especially in this season), may we find it not in “what,” but in Who.
Despite a deep desire to belong, Nichole Woo often finds life nudging her to the margins. She’s been the only girl on the team, the only public speaking teacher afraid of public speaking, the only Caucasian in the extended family photo, and the only mom who lets her kids drink Fanta. She calls the Rockies home, often pretending to be a Colorado native in spite of her flatland origins. Visit her blog at www.walkthenarrows.com.
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