The Sting of Feeling Misunderstood

There’s Something About Mary – Part Five

In my third year of marriage, I found out that we were expecting our first child. I was in my early twenties, but I looked even younger than I really was.

Now, some women can be pregnant and look really cute with their itty-bitty soccer balls for bellies, but I wasn’t one of them. When I was pregnant, I got huge everywhere. My feet. My face. My arms. They would all swell to ridiculous proportions. Even my fingers got so big that, after five months of pregnancy, I couldn’t wear my wedding ring anymore.

Of course, everyone said I “glowed,” but I think I glowered instead.

I remember being in the grocery store – and other places too – when I would get certain looks by other people. Looks that didn’t seem kind.

I felt misunderstood. Wrongly judged.

I wonder if Mary, at the tender age of fourteen and pregnant before her wedding day, ever felt the same way. Wrongly accused. Falsely judged.

I wonder if she ever wanted to shout, “It’s not what you think! This is actually a God-ordained blessing from heaven. And someday, you’re gonna’ thank me for it.”

Mary was so misunderstood.

When other people saw the “facts” about Jesus and his origins, they came to the wrong conclusion. Of course, Mary had privileged information. She knew some additional facts that hardly anyone else knew.

I wonder if she ever tried to explain. Then again, it’s possible that her explanations would have made things worse. It might have sounded awfully prideful to announce yourself as the mother of the Messiah.

Mary was so misunderstood.

She was misunderstood by her fiancé, and it took a divine act of God to intervene on her behalf.

She was also misunderstood by everyone in her hometown of Nazareth. And the shame that surrounded her pregnancy lingered. Even three decades later, when Jesus was astounding people with his teaching in synagogues and healing people with all manner of illnesses, a derogatory reminder of his less-than-legitimate origins would still come up.

“Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary?” (Mark 6:3)

This was an intentional slur.

In Hebrew culture, a son was referred to as the “son of” and then his father’s name. For example:

  • Son of Adam
  • Son of Abraham
  • Son of Jesse
  • Son of David
  • Son of Zebedee

In the Bible, there are over 1,600 instances of the phrase “son of” and then the father’s name. However, there are less than a dozen times a son is mentioned as the “son of” and then his mother’s name.

In some cases, such as Esau’s, there were multiple wives; thus, the sons were denoted in the genealogy as to which woman bore them. Yet, more often than not, whenever “son of” and the mother’s name appear, it is generally done so in a scathing manner.

  • Son of Hagar – to differentiate between Ishmael and Isaac, the son of Abraham (Genesis 21:9-10)
  • Son of a harlot (Judges 11:12)
  • Son of an Israelite woman whose father was an Egyptian (Leviticus 24:10)
  • Son of Mary (Mark 6:3)

These words were marred with the sting of hurtful intent. It was a petty reminder that Jesus was not the son of Joseph, and everybody knew it.

Mary was so misunderstood.

It’s one thing to suffer with the support of friends. It’s another thing to suffer in silence, refusing to lash out at those who make false assumptions based on partial information.

Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary?

Surely decades of scorn took its toll on this aging woman’s soul. Mary suffered. She suffered the persecution of righteousness. In fact, she is the very first person to suffer persecution because of Jesus.

When Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount, I wonder if Mary was among the multitudes to hear her son proclaim the beatitudes. I wonder if Jesus ever gave his mom a hug and whispered these words:

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven.” (Matthew 5:11-12)

Mary suffered the gossip and slander. And she suffered in silence. But she maintained a quiet dignity, the kind only possible from genuine humility.

There’s something about Mary.

To be continued . . .

(This is a seven-part series.
I will post every Monday-Wednesday-Friday until its completion.)

5 thoughts on “The Sting of Feeling Misunderstood

  1. Thank you for this post! I've also wondered about the criticism and prejudice Mary must have endured throughout her life. I'm curious if Joseph stood up for his wife, and if they both had to keep their heavenly knowledge under wraps throughout Jesus' childhood, until He proclaimed Himself the Son of God.
    I found your blog through Warren Baldwin a few weeks back, and I hope it's okay that I linked it to my blog. I really enjoy your writing and I look forward to reading through your older posts.
    I hope you and your family have a blessed New Year!

  2. Delia, that's wonderful that people 'still' think you're a teenager! But I do understand what it's like to be 'misunderstood.' Blessings to you today.

    Kathy: Thanks for stopping by.

    Carla: Thank you. I love studying Scripture from a different perspective.

  3. Wow!
    I am just under 5' and even at 34 people mistake me for a teenager. When I was pregnant with my daughter I got many disapproving looks. I was 25 years old, a Kindergarten teacher and married…little did they know. 😉 How interesting to look at it from Mary's perspective. Thanks.

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