I watched the movie The Nativity Story last night. It is by far my favorite Advent/Christmas movie and I try not to watch it throughout the year so that it feels new again when I watch it during Advent.
There is no real way of knowing the conversations that might have been had between Mary and her parents, between her and Joseph. But this movie shows what I think could have been real conversations. They talk about things that most soon to be parents discuss – “Are you scared?” “Yes I am” “Me too” “I wonder if I will even be able to teach him anything.”
One of my very favorite parts of the movie is when Mary and Joseph are journeying to Bethlehem and on the way; Mary sees that her husband is starting to get tired. He’s been feeding their donkey instead of himself, his feet are blistered and dirty, his legs aren’t walking as strongly as they were when the journey began. They are sitting by the river and Mary removes his shoes and begins to wash his feet while he is asleep. She says, “My child, you will have a good man to raise you – a man who will give of himself before anyone else.” Let’s not forget that Mary was probably almost 9 months pregnant at this point and probably not feeling the greatest either. She had been riding a donkey for days and probably not eating very much food since they were travelling and I’m pretty sure there were no Wendy’s along the way. She still finds it in herself, despite how she is feeling to reach out and love her husband. It may be a small offering of love, but those small acts of love are what carry us from day to day in a marriage, aren’t they?
Later in the movie they are in a marketplace and a fortune teller says to Joseph, “to see yourself in a young face there is no greater joy” and you instantly see the look of sadness wash over Joseph. Mary could have just ignored it and moved on, but she takes him by the hand to show him her love and loyalty. Joseph may not be the Father of her baby but he will be the one to help her raise Him. Again she shows us another way of loving our own husbands. There will be times of sadness for our men, whether they are far from family, having difficulty at work or finding work, have lost a family member or may be feeling the overwhelming responsibility of balancing their work, wife and children while still finding time for them. We, as wives, can offer small gestures of kindness to show our support and love, no matter how tired we are. It could be taking a bit of extra time to prepare a supper that you know he really loves. It could be going to a movie and letting him choose what you will see, even if it is 2 hours of things and people getting blown up. It could be giving him a massage or it may just be holding his hand for a few minutes so that he knows you are right there with him.
God created Eve to be Adam’s ‘helpful partner’. His ‘help meet’. I think we focus completely on the help meet part and usually forget the ‘his’ part. Let me explain. If God has called me to be Ben’s companion then my companionship will suit Ben specifically. I would not be a good companion to your husband, because I am not his wife. As Ben’s wife, I truly believe that God has and will continue to bless me with the graces that I need to be a good wife to Ben, tending to his heart, his interests, and his needs.
The other thing I noticed in the movie is that many of the ways Mary chooses to show Joseph her love are physical. She washes his feet, takes him by the hand, lets him help her up and down from the donkey, and holds his face in her hand when they are watching Jesus in the manger. We never see them kiss but yet she finds a way to feed his heart with her affections. I know this is something I can work on. After being with Lucy and Abigail all day, nursing, hugging, kissing, carrying and playing with my girls, I sometimes feel touched out. I know in the past that this has hurt my husband, who, well intentioned was just trying to give me a hug or a simple kiss and I cringed at his touch. I hated feeling that way just as much as he hated how it made him feel. Have you ever felt this way after a long day at home with the kids? Marriage can be hard sometimes, eh? I give, give, give all day to these beautiful little people who need me, and then comes home this gorgeous man who wants me and I feel totally empty and unworthy of what I have left to give him. Enter God’s grace. Just when I feel like I can’t give anymore and don’t want to, Ben will do the kindest thing for me and it helps me to open my heart just that little bit so that God’s grace can get in there. The way God loves me through my husband always makes me want to love more.
I know it is only a movie, but this particular movie has helped me to contemplate the relationship between Mary and Joseph in a much deeper way. We are so very blessed that God chose Joseph and Mary to model marriage for us. What a pure and selfless example of love we have in these two people who were simple and poor but oh, so faithful.
The girls and I are staying with my mum for the next few nights and I will be happy to have some company on Christmas morning. I will be back here sometime after Ben gets back I imagine. From our little family to yours, we wish you a very blessed and happy Christmas. I know what you’re all getting for Christmas, and trust me, He’s AWESOME.