“You’re a control freak,” he says, joking, but truer words have never been spoken.
I like to drive, tend to know a little something about everything, correct for proper grammar, and survived grad school by scheduling my life down to the last second. I like to be right, but I actually didn’t know how much I liked to be in control until I wasn’t anymore.

Motherhood stole my control.

I wish I could say losing control happened slowly, creeping up on me over time until I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror, but that would be a lie. In truth, I lost control of my life in the sixteen hours or so it took me to bring my first son into the world.

I remember looking at him, the day we brought him home, in a state of sheer panic. It was arguably the most out of control moment I’d ever experienced. I looked at him—with those beautiful eyes and swiff of blonde hair—and felt a terror I’d never known before…fear pulled me down like a vice grip telling me my life would never be the same, and that I was now responsible for someone other than myself.

We struggled with our new son in every way new parents possibly can.

He wouldn’t even eat like normal babies do for the first few days. So obsessed were we with getting him to nurse that we fed him out of a syringe rather than “ruin” him with a bottle. On day eleven of his short, tumultuous life, he got it, but nursing remained a tedious, challenging piece of work for me. I loved it, but it seriously dampened my first few days with a newborn.

Parenting began to unravel my illusion of control.

Up until June 19, 2005 I’d never met a situation I couldn’t conquer. That all changed in a matter of hours. Then, twenty-three months later, God blessed us with another son, and any semblance of control I had over my life went over the cliff, crashing, exploding, burning my carefully thought-out expectations of motherhood until there was nothing left.

Turns out that’s not a bad thing.

Parenting began to unravel my illusion of control...but it turns out that's a good thing.

My emptiness, and complete inability to control the environment around me, brought me to my knees. And it was on my knees, laid out before the Lord, desperate for guidance, grace, and mercy, that I found hope.

Emptiness causes a loss of expectations, and demands that we look up to be filled up (<<—Tweet That).

One of my favorite things about Mary, the mother of Jesus, is that she emptied herself for the sake of God’s plan. In Luke 1:38, after an angelic interruption of epic proportions, she says, “…Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”

All evidence points to the fact that Mary was very young. We might’ve expected her to ask a few more questions, have some objections, or stamp her foot in youthful defiance refusing to allow God to take ultimate control of her life. After all, she had to know what this meant…that she would be the talk of the town, the girl without a husband, the babe without a name. Hard times awaited her if she emptied herself before the Lord, but she did it anyway.

I want to be more like her.

I want to open myself, empty and ready for whatever the Lord has for me, big or small. Even if it hurts. Even if it isn’t what I expected. Even if it takes me giving up my expectations and need to control to make it happen. I want to be so awed and in love with my Savior that my heart’s cry is “let it be to me according to your word” no matter what that word is.

My history is to fight God, ask Him why, tell Him why He’s wrong, why I don’t deserve the difficult circumstances following Him has put me in. But because of grace, my future can look more like Mary’s. Holy emptiness, humble expectation, beautiful obedience.

Unwrapping the Gift

Take a moment to read the story of Mary in Luke chapter one as a family, reflecting on key points, such as her willing obedience, and humble service in the face of ridicule. Then discuss these questions (adapt them as necessary for young children):

  1. Do you think Mary was scared when she saw the angel?
  2. What questions do you think went through her mind?
  3. If an angel appeared to you, would you stand strong or run away?
  4. How does Mary’s story illustrate the importance of obeying God?
  5. What’s your tendency: to empty yourself so God can work through you, or fight to keep control of your life?
  6. End your family time in prayer, thanking God for the gift of Mary’s story to encourage your heart.

Brooke McGlothlinBrooke McGlothlin is co-founder and President of Raising Boys Ministries. She’s a mother of two boys who believes God has chosen her to fight for the hearts of her sons. She can be found most often on her knees in prayer, not because she’s so holy, but because God is. Not because she knows how to raise godly men, but because God knows the plans He has for them.

Join over 10,000 other mothers of boys in Brooke’s FREE Praying for Boys 5-day prayer challenge.

This post is a part of our Unwrapping the Gift Advent study for families, discovering the characters of Christmas.

An Advent series discovering the characters of Christmas a the MOB Society.