Will I be a good mother? Will I know what to do in an emergency? How will I balance my teaching career and motherhood? When I was pregnant with our daughter, these thoughts were perpetually on my mind.
My husband constantly reminded me to “have faith.” Easier said than done. Though I am sure we have made our share of mistakes, we are blessed with a kind, gentle, loving little girl. She’s everything we ever hoped and prayed for. It would seem, then, that the news that we are expecting another girl would not bring about those same doubts and fears. This time, though, the doubts are less about the day-to-day worries of scheduling and balancing a hectic life, and instead are centered on my own insecurities. Am I good enough for this? What if I fail? I struggle to believe that I can handle it all.
I read today’s Gospel passage to my senior class and asked them to come up with two or three words to describe Mary. Their responses: humble, joyful, faithful. How could Mary, an expectant mother, appear so seemingly calm, happy, and sure that she was ready for the overwhelming task ahead of her—being the mother of the savior of the world? How could she not be filled with self-doubt, anxiety, and fear? And perhaps most mind-boggling, how could she have faith that she—a humble, simple servant—was the right choice for the task at hand?
I am sure that Mary did have doubts. As we see in her Magnificat, however, her doubts did not make her unfaithful. She understood that God cares deeply for each of us and that though God is mighty, she had nothing to fear. She took on the task of becoming a mother with joy, gratitude, and above all, faith.
German-American theologian Paul Tillich wrote, “Doubt isn’t the opposite of faith, it is an element of faith.” Our doubts, just like Mary’s, do not make us unfaithful. If we were sure of every outcome, we would have no reason to be faithful and to believe in God’s plan for us. Mary trusted in God’s choice for her life. May we all have the courage to let go of self-doubt and fear and do the same.
Kaileen Sanner Bonina ’01, ‘03 M.Ed.
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