There’s an interesting back story to the song “Let It Be.” Paul McCartney wrote it while the Beatles were in the process of pulling apart – his “hour of darkness.” And his lyrics work on a couple of levels.
McCartney’s mother was named Mary and died when he was 14. She came to him in a dream during his difficult time, and that helped him get through it. The song is personal that way.
The lyrics also work on another level, borrowing from the story in Luke about the young woman named Mary who is visited by an angel. The story ends with her “Let it be,” the song’s title and chorus.
Wonderful words, great story. But to me, it’s Mary’s initial reaction in the story that sticks in my brain. When the angel greets her by saying that God thinks she’s just fabulous, Mary recoils. Her response is basically: “Wait, what? Favored? Fabulous? Me? No, no, no. You’ve got the wrong person. That’s not me!”
Can we all identify? She has heard voices her whole life – the ones that we also hear – telling her she’s certainly not favored and she definitely doesn’t measure up. You know those voices.
Wait, what? Favored? Me?
The ones that tell us we’re not smart enough, not pretty enough, not handsome enough, not educated enough, not thin enough, not accomplished enough, not social enough, not funny enough, not fill-in-the-blank enough. The voices that take up residence in our heads.
Mary hears the voices, too. She’s not yet married, which means she’s most likely still a teenager. She hears all the voices that the teenage years bring us — you know the ones. Enough said.
There’s more. She’s a Jew living in the Roman world, one that treats Jews as inferior and worthless. A woman, she’s treated more as property than as a person in her own culture and religion. Plus, she’s growing up in Nazareth, a backwater place looked down upon by pretty much everyone.
Yep, those voices.
So, of course she recoils when she hears that God thinks she’s really great. She has a “Mary moment,” a time when insecurities and fears get in the way of seeing ourselves as we really are. We all have them.
Our own Mary moments
And I submit that the great miracle in the story isn’t that a young Jewish woman becomes pregnant, but how God reaches through her insecurities and fears and shows her that she’s capable of great things, regardless of what anybody else thinks.
Her sense of herself is transformed, and she’s now able to say “let it be,” even though her knees are a bit shaky and her voice a little weak.
God works the same miracle on each of us, coming to us in moments big and small and reminding us of who we are and what we can do. Sometimes the message comes from a persistent voice that we hear inside; sometimes it comes through someone else’s words. Either way, we’re told:
“Hi! It’s Me! You need to hear something. You know those voices you hear every day, the ones that want to keep you small? Ignore them as best you can. Instead, try to pay attention to my voice, the one that wants to make you big. Those other voices don’t really know you, but I do. I made you. I recognize how amazing and lovable you are.
“And I have some excellent ideas for you, some things that only you can do to help others and make the world better. You get to decide, though – free will and all. You can say yes, or you can say no. However, I am going to be persistent about it – just a warning!
“I know you”
“Maybe you’re afraid at first and you need more time to think about it. That’s OK, I totally understand. Maybe you’ll turn me down at first and have a change of heart after a while. I’m cool with that, too.
“But know this: If you choose to say yes, incredible things are going to happen. You want a miracle? You’ll get one. Not only will you help others, but you’ll be transformed in many ways, too. You’ll end up growing and going in directions you never considered, doing things you thought were beyond your reach, finding yourself fulfilled in ways you never imagined.
“I know that all of this is unsettling. But remember that you’re never alone in any of this. I’m always right here with you. I’ve got your back. Always. And I’ve got your hand. Always.
“So what do you say? Should we ‘Let it be’ together? I promise it’s going to be amazing, just like you.”