Mary treasured her life with her son like any mother would. And though she lived in a time without iPhones and cameras, the Bible says she learned the habit of treasuring and pondering “all these things” regarding her life with Jesus. It wasn’t a memory card or photo album she gathered them all in: it was on the wall of her heart that she filed all the instances she could. Her maternal love for her baby boy was evident from his very birth. She paid attention to the glorious singing announcement the angels threw for the shepherds; she soaked in her newborn’s freshly birthed skin even as animals mooed and bleated; and she listened with great admiration to the wisemen’s praise dedicated to her son. In the middle of the hustle and bustle of the birthing and celebrations, Mary stands out as a mother who chooses to treasure and ponder it all in her heart (Luke 2:19).
They say that motherhood is a blink of an eye. A dashing spark slowly dimming away. The rush of time hurries newborns into babies, babies into toddlers, toddlers into preschoolers, preschoolers into tweens, and teens into young adults. I wonder if Mary realized the same truth as she was looking for her son in the Temple when he was twelve years old. Following their Jewish tradition of going to the Temple for observing the Passover, Mary and Joseph took Jesus with them, also. On their way home, they didn’t notice Jesus was missing. After three days, they finally find him in the Temple, theologizing with the priests and perfectly at home there. To their worries and concerns, Jesus responds with wisdom and assurance, “Why were you searching for me? Didn’t you know that I had to be in my Father’s house?” Mary blinked and Jesus is old enough to be on his own. Gone are the baby bowls, spoons, clothes, dependence, and need for mobility. In between her blinks, Jesus grew from the helpless baby in the manger, to an articulated, wise young man in a Temple. Jesus was asserting his independence, but Mary is said to have been doing some more of the same treasuring of all these things in her heart that she’s now an expert at (Luke 2:51).
I stepped into my son’s bedroom the other day and saw his toddler bed made. Tucked beneath the starry duvet were his most favorite toys napping well while he was gone to school: his teddy bear, the dinosaur, the mouse, and a car. Sleeping on his pillow, laying still and waiting for the bewildered boy to come home. His imagination is befitting to his age. This sight wrapped with the reality of his infantile imagination caused me to stop and treasure it. Unlike Mary, I took out my camera and snapped a photo of it. But just like Mary, I realized that the reality of this picture will soon become a faint memory. Just like the memories of my other three older children who no longer speak to their dolls or imagine fairy princesses and knights perusing around our four-bedroom, air-conditioned castle. In between the blinks of motherhood I’m witnessing eternal souls growing from tiny bodies into full-grown flesh and bones. What a divine opportunity motherhood is: holding, feeding, washing, dressing, teaching, and kissing on eternal souls in maturing bodies.
I’m blinking and my babies are growing. As they grow, everything in the home grows with them. One day, all the clothes will be big. The beds and the cups. The bowls and the spoons. The words, the needs, the struggles. The trials, the sufferings, the decisions. But today, I am still picking up small clothes and painful LEGO’s from the floors. I wash small, stinky socks and brush small heads that only reach my hips. I still pick up children in my arms or bend down to hear their whispers. I still decipher words spoken by small mouths…
In her mothering, Mary somehow found time to treasure the moments with her son and ponder all his words and events. She mothered well without aps, latest books, podcasts, conferences. She remained tethered to the words of the scriptures she learned to trust and live by. Mary was not a seminary wife, but she had a rich theology filled with the truthful words of God. In her dedication, she found ways to shun distractions, focus her affections on the people and callings the Lord gave her, and meditate on the Word and her family’s good.
Motherhood is a string of daily choices. Mary chose to be a mother who treasured and pondered every stage of her son’s growth not because it was her obligation, but because it was her privilege as a faithful woman of God. In the passing of time, the stages of motherhood develop and grow. The best treasuring of our seasons of parenting comes from pondering the words of God faithfully in our heart. As our children mature, it is this pondering of our treasures through the gospel that become blessed memories in our aging. Oh, that our pondered motherhood grows in treasuring the gospel even as we treasure our children’s stages.