A personal reflection: Mary: A loving example of faith, motherhood

By Lupe Garcia, LPC-S, LMFT-S

Columnist

Motherhood is a beautiful blessing, but it certainly has its challenges. Whether a woman is a mother of one or seven, an adoptive mother, a foster mother, a single mother, a godmother, an aspiring mother, or a spiritual mother, she is not alone in her journey. There are other women on this rollercoaster of emotions –– from pure joy to frustration to utter exhaustion. We learn from each other, we encourage one another and we empathize with one another. We can also take great comfort in the arms of our Blessed Mother Mary. She is the perfect role model for each of us as women, no matter where we are in our lives or what circumstances surround us. She is our refuge and advocate, and she teaches us about faith and being open to God’s divine plan.

There is a natural worry that comes with the huge responsibility that is motherhood. We fear the unknown, we doubt ourselves and we are not sure if we are "ready." However, motherhood does not have to be so worrisome if we stop trying to control every situation and instead place our trust in God. Mary demonstrated her courage and faith in God when she opened herself to God’s will. Hers was an unconventional pregnancy that had severe consequences in her life, and yet she accepted it with an open heart.

Accepting God’s will when it is not what we had planned is very difficult. No matter how children come into our lives, we have to trust that God has a plan for us and for them. Maybe a couple is not in the best financial situation to have a child. Perhaps a woman is not married and has no idea how she will support herself and a child. Sometimes children come pre-packaged as an instant inherited family after a sibling passes away. Like Mary, we must remember that God has a plan and we need to trust in that plan and in him.

We all have our hopes and dreams for our children, siblings, nieces, nephews, godchildren and grandchildren. It is certainly necessary for us to be supportive and loving yet set limits for our children. There are also times when we have to allow them the opportunity to grow into their own person and establish their own relationships. There comes a point where we have to let them think for themselves and make their own decisions. We can assume that Mary had at least a small personal desire to have her son just be a normal carpenter and not have to suffer and give up his life for us. However, she had the courage to put him and others before her own desires. When his time came, she moved out of the way and let Jesus go to work in his public ministry. Mary teaches us to be loving and compassionate, but also gives us an example of how to detach out of love.

The most difficult yet essential lesson that Mary teaches us is her willingness to accept suffering. From the very beginning of her open "Yes" to God, she prepared herself to whatever was to come. Now, this is undoubtedly easier said than done for anyone, but she showed us that it is possible to go through agony and still remain faithful. There are few things in this world that are more painful than losing a child or watching one’s child suffer. This type of heartbreak is so personal that sometimes even sharing experiences with others who are going through it is not comforting.

Mother Mary exemplified the strength and courage it takes to move forward with heartbreak by relying on God’s mercy and the help of others. Mary was with Jesus at the foot of the cross, and she surrounded herself with the disciples as they tried to understand Christ’s passion, death and resurrection. In this time of confusion and grief, she relied on her family and friends –– Joseph, Mary Magdalene, the disciples whom she then viewed as her children. When we suffer such immense pain in our lives, we may be tempted to isolate ourselves, but we must remember to turn to our loved ones and let them help us deal with our pain, just as Mary did after Jesus’ death.

In this month of May, let’s pray that we become more like our mother Mary, who is the epitome of motherhood. May we delve into the Gospels and learn more about Mary and her sacred motherhood to Jesus and the church. May we always turn to her for consolation in our journey as women and mothers of faith.

Lupe Garcia is a licensed counselor and the director of the diocesan Office of Family Life and Family Counseling. She can be contacted at (512) 949-2495 or lupe-garcia@austindiocese.org.