Darkness surrounds us at every moment. We are extremely tired, but we press on, believing this is what we have been called to do. Doubt attempts to creep into my heart with every step, but I fight to push it away. I know I must remain strong, but not only for myself. The man at my side has been nothing short of incredible. He didn’t ask to be placed in this situation, but he has stepped up to become the one person I can trust to help me through this. Even when I question why God has allowed these things to happen, he quietly whispers into my ear that everything is going to be okay.
I am still hurt and confused by people I used to call my friends. At first, they seemed to understand. As time went on, however, they turned against me. They accused me of things I didn’t do. They had no idea what was going on inside of me, but they judged me anyway. Even my own family became angry with me. Probably because of all the questions they were receiving from anyone who saw me. I never stopped praying for people to just accept me and understand there was something happening beyond my control. Most of them decided it was just easier to walk away than to stay and help me.
There are still some things I can’t quite figure out. I guess the one, burning question that repeatedly enters my mind is why me? I’m not special in any way, shape, or form. I’m no different than any of the other girls that live near me. I’m not pretty. I don’t have a list of skills that would make anyone interested in me. I’m just a plain, ordinary teenage girl trying to find her way in this world. Am I perfect? Of course not. I just don’t get it. I’ve never done anything extraordinary in my entire life. Not that I’ve lived for a long time, but still, I’m just like everyone else. Most of my friends are smarter and have more going for them than me. They have hope for a better future. My life wasn’t really heading anywhere special.
There are moments when everything feels like some kind of dream. Out here now, in the dark with only the stars and shapeless moon guiding our path, the reality is beginning to set in. The feeling is similar to the ebb and flow of the tides as they kiss the shoreline and then retreat. Most of the sudden pains are bearable. There have only been a couple that made me cry out. I feel sorry for this guy who promised to marry me one day. Not only is he tasked with the seemingly impossible mission of finding us a place to stay, he also has to contend with a pregnant woman. Well, let me rephrase that. A pregnant girl. I am an emotional mess right now. I’m starting to believe that all of this is more than I can possibly handle.
We had planned to stop hours ago, but no one has any room for us to stay. At this point, I don’t really care where we end up, I just need to get some rest. Judging from the time between each sharp pain, this baby is coming soon. I’m so nervous, well, truthfully, I’m terrified. How will I be able to raise a baby? I have no idea what to do. I’m afraid that I will fail. And it’s not exactly a typical situation. I’m not sure if I can handle the pressure of raising this boy. My boy. My son. His son. Wow, what on earth am I going to do? I’m about to be a teenage mother, and I have no idea what it means to take care of a child. And this isn’t any ordinary baby that is about to enter the world.
God, are you sure you picked the right person for this job? I’m extremely honored, please don’t get me wrong. But, why me? There has to be someone else who could do a much better job than I can. Surely there are older women with more experience who would have no trouble giving birth to Your son, and raising him properly. Why me? Some women are just born to be amazing mothers, and I don’t feel like I’m one of those. I hadn’t even thought about having children. This is all so overwhelming.
I hear wild animals wailing from somewhere behind us. I’m starting to feel more afraid and tell Joseph we need to stop. Whatever comes up next, we have to stop. I can’t take the pain anymore. After a few minutes, we come to another inn. Joseph talks to the man inside but is told there aren’t any available rooms. The man, however, does offer us the stable. I can tell Joseph doesn’t want to, but I convince him that we have no other choice. I can see the failure in his tired eyes, but I assure him that it will be fine. Right now, we just need to stop. This baby is coming soon.
The first thing I notice is the smell. I nearly vomit as we enter the stable, but I somehow find the strength to hold it back. Joseph spends some time clearing out some of the animals and building a bed with straw. I try to move out of his way, and I step into a pile of what I realize is not mud, but excrement. The thought of giving birth in a place with such filth and dirt is horrifying. Is this really where the God of the universe wants me to deliver this baby? It’s not exactly what we pictured in our minds, but we just have to trust that He knows what He’s doing. Sharp pains tear through my abdomen, and I cry out in anguish. I don’t remember much after that moment. The pain was so intense. I may have passed out, I’m not sure, but I awaken to complete silence. I can hear my labored breathing echoing in my ears.
As everything begins to slowly come into focus, I see Joseph standing over me with tears streaming down his face. He smiles, but I can read his worried expression like an open book. I lift my head to look around, and a barb of fear shoots through my heart. There is blood everywhere. I try to speak, but my throat burns with dryness. I swallow several times as I fight back tears. Something must have gone horribly wrong. It’s too quiet. All that blood. Have I failed? He leans over and kisses my forehead. In this moment, I sense that everything is okay. My panic subsides, and I squeeze his hand.
“Do you want to hold him?”
I nod, and Joseph helps me into a sitting position. He picks up the baby and places him into my arms. I wasn’t sure what emotions I would feel when this moment finally arrived. Even as I hold him, I’m not sure exactly what I’m feeling. It’s so hard to describe. Such tiny hands and fingers. I gently touch his soft cheeks and little nose. He is perfect. My mind wanders as the baby boy sleeps peacefully in my arms. Will he grow up to be a carpenter like his earthly father? What kinds of things will he be interested in? He’s from God, but yet he is a part of this world now. I wonder if he will understand who he is and find purpose in his life. Will the other boys pick on him for being different? Why did God send him here? Why me?
I hear a soft gurgle sound, and I look down to find my newborn son staring directly at me. Those eyes. I can feel love, acceptance, even gratitude flowing over me from his expression. How is that possible? Newborn children can’t possibly understand any of those things. A chill shivers down my spine as I continue to stare. I’ve gone through such heartbreak at the cost of many friends and family. No one understood what God had in store for me. They didn’t believe such a thing was even possible. I had a hard time myself believing this would actually happen. As I look into his gentle face, I realize it was all worth it. It was as if I was holding hope.
My heart flutters as he continues to gaze at me. Am I looking into the face of God Himself? When I hold his hand or wipe the tears from his eyes, am I also touching the very One Who created me?
My mind can’t comprehend such a thing, and I start to weep. The weight of being responsible for raising God’s own Son hits me in that moment. At the same time, I feel a peace that I can’t explain. Just holding the child brings a comfort that I can’t understand. Maybe I’m not supposed to. I have to trust God. The very idea that I could even conceive this baby is a miracle. I’m sure He can help me through the rest of this boy’s life.
Joseph kneels beside me and gently touches the baby’s head. “The angel told me that he would one day save the world.”
“What does that mean, Joseph?”
“I don’t know. You know what to call him, right?”
“His name is Jesus.”