Soon after God told me to become a professional writer, He told me to bless people at Christmas with a story instead of sending Christmas cards. This is the third one I wrote, and it's my gift to you this year.
And So You Are My Son
I have loved your mother for a long time. She first captured my heart with her big brown eyes when she was a little girl. I was quite a bit older than she was, so I should not have noticed her. But one day as I was rushing home from the hill outside town knowing I was almost late for supper, I ran around the corner of her house just as she walked out the gate. In my haste, I knocked her to the ground. Stopping short, I began to apologize as I lifted her to her feet. I will never forget the way she looked at me. She did not cry. Her eyes just got bigger and bigger. For many days her eyes haunted my thoughts. Soon I decided to wait for her to grow up before I married.
And grow up she did, into the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. Her eyes were always the center of her beauty for me. Some days they were laughing eyes, merrily twinkling. Other times the depth of wisdom that greeted me there was overwhelming. Oh how I feared her father would give her to someone else.
One day my eyes sought her among the other girls, as they often did. Without knowing why, I sensed a change in her. My heart swelled with loving her until I thought it would burst. Then I realized she was nearing the age to marry. That moment I started planning how to approach her father.
I knew I was only a carpenter, and she deserved so much more. That is what I told her father, but he did not turn me away. He did say he wanted to give Mary the chance to accept or reject my offer. That was not usually done, but I was glad. I remembered many times looking up from my work to find her gazing at me. Although I loved her and wanted her desperately, I loved her enough to let her go if she did not want me.
The time of waiting seemed endless. My agony intensified as I thought of more and more reasons I was not worthy of her. Then the summons came.
Dressing with particular care, I presented myself at their gate. As I was invited into the house, my eyes searched the corners of the room for her. My heart fell when she was not there. I knew she had turned me down. Then her father greeted me. As I returned his kisses on each cheek, my heart was thudding in my ears. He kindly cut through the remaining formalities and joyfully told me we were now betrothed. My leaden heart soared, and I was both laughing and crying as she came shyly into the room.
We were so happy as we prepared for our coming marriage. I built all the furniture for our house next to the carpenter shop.
I had just begun to build a special chest for Mary when she came to see me that day. As she slipped into the room and stood quietly watching me, I sensed something.
She hesitantly told me what the angel had said to her, and I was shocked. She said she had waited until she was sure she was carrying a child before she told me. The one thing that was so precious to me about Mary was her innocent purity. I was not sure I even believed in angels, so I could not grasp what she was saying—except that she was having a baby. Well, I knew it wasn't mine. I felt as if someone had kicked me in the stomach as hard as he could. I almost doubled up from the pain. It must have shown on my face, because Mary rushed away with tears streaming down her cheeks.
I dropped what I was doing and sank onto a nearby stool. I guess I sat there for a long time. When I realized what time it was, the sun had set and darkness had engulfed me. I began to wonder who the father of the baby was. My mind darted from one man to another. I tried to guess who he was. I wanted to kill him for stealing what I had waited so long for. Finally, I went home in defeat.
If I had planned to bury the pain in sleep that night, I was mistaken. Tossing and turning on my bed, my mind was filled with Mary—as a child . . . as my betrothed . . . pure, then defiled. Finally, I decided to put her away privately. I did not want to have her stoned even though she had betrayed me.
I closed my eyes and willed myself to go to sleep. Then a light so bright my eyelids could not shut it out filled the room. A man was standing at the center of the light. He told me to take Mary as my wife, because the child she carried was the Son of God. He told me we were not to become one until after You were born.
The next day, I told Mary about the angel visiting me. We were soon quietly married, but there was gossip about us. I resented it for Mary—and for me. I was not sorry when we had to come to Bethlehem.
The trip was hard on Mary. I tried to make it as easy as possible, but I knew she was exhausted when we arrived. The search for a place to stay was frantic; but this stable is snug against the cold. I was happy for the privacy when You were born.
As the hard pains gripped Mary, there was not even time to search for a woman to assist her. Being a man, I did not know anything about birthing a baby. I could not have done it without God's help. It was in the very act of helping Mary birth you that you became my son. That was the only part I had in your coming, but such a special part. And so you are my son . . .
© Copyright 1986 Lena Nelson Dooley
If you or someone you love receives an ereader for Christmas, be sure to consider my last two books.
Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico, is only available in Kindle format.
Maggie's Journey is available in all ebook formats.