Pregnant with Fierce Love

I’ve been thinking about Mary. Teenaged. Pregnant. Ought-to-be-terrified, but so convicted by the claim God has made on her life and the love swelling inside of her, that she instead dares to proclaim:

My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for She has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is Her name.

I’m overwhelmed by the way Mary affirms herself—not in spite of her circumstances but because of them. It’s the kind of radical self-celebration I describe in Fierce Love: “By self-love, I don’t mean selfishness, self-absorption, or conceit. We all know people who hog the stage, dominate conversations, and have to be the center of attention, and I’m not arguing for that behavior. I’m also not arguing for narcissism, an exaggerated sense of self-importance that requires constant admiration. No, by self-love I mean a healthy delight in your true, imperfect, uniquely wonderful, particular self. I mean an unconditional appreciation for who you are, head to toe, inside and out: quirks, foibles, beauty, and blemishes—all of it. I mean seeing yourself truthfully and loving what you see.”

Mary puts her hand on her stomach, looks at a situation that might provoke fear—she still hasn’t even told Joseph!—and says, “I am beloved. This child will be beloved.” Too much of the Christian tradition has diminished Mary’s agency (because Mary’s power has always threatened folks who prefer women docile), portraying the incarnation as something that happens to her, instead of something she chooses—a partnership she co-creates with God. Mary’s song shatters this lie: With her words and actions she sees herself truthfully, and proclaims herself blessed. Mary did you know? Of course she did—she was a co-conspirator.

And what’s personal is always political. Particularly in this season. If a woman was chosen to bear God in her uterus, we’re sure as hell chosen to bear God into pulpits. And if God trusted Mary to make decisions about her womb then, She trusts people to make choices about our wombs now. As reproductive freedom is under assault—know that this minister will continue to fight for your right to get an abortion, not in spite of my faith but because of it. And, if you live in a state that’s restricting your ability to exercise, please write to me. We’ll find a way to get you the care you need.

But more than anything, Mary’s story impresses on me how crucial it is for us to be midwives to each other. The first thing Mary does is rush to the house of her friend Elizabeth, to tell her what she’s carrying. They embrace and affirm their radiance. Make no mistake, beloved: God has planted that same fierce love inside of you, too. Our responsibility in community is to nourish that seed. Who knows what may yet blossom.

*Note: The beautiful icon at the top of this post is created by Lauren Wright Pittman. You can purchase it for your home here.