Always a Wiseman, Never Mary!

In a twist on the American phrase “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride” I give you “Always a Wiseman, never Mary”. In Christmas pageants of my childhood I was never Mary. I was always a Wiseman. I desperately wanted to be Mary, with her blue robe and glowing perfection. But I had a short, pixie hair cut and was a bit on the stocky side. Stocky, short-haired Mary wouldn’t do. The honor would go to my pretty and best friend Nancy with her olive skin, long dark hair and deep brown eyes. Yes, Nancy was Mary.

But the desire never changed. As long as there was a pageant, I wanted to be Mary. While I was externally a Wiseman with a purple robe and beautiful brass from the bazaar as my gift, symbolizing gold, frankincense or myrrh, internally I was Mary.

Then I became a grown-up and the pageants became real life. And there were always those parts that seemed favored – the ‘Mary’ parts.  Those parts that I longed for but didn’t get, receiving instead the parts that were the ‘Wisemen’ that came from afar. It was easy to look at the parts that seemed better and watch on in envy. The problem? If you always want to be Mary you don’t make a very good Wiseman. It comes through in both the pageants of childhood and the pageants of life.

It took me a long time to grow into the part of the wiseman. Contentment is a process that can come and go, depending on our willingness to accept the roles that life brings.

What parts in the pageant of life have you longed for, feeling in your heart that they are the best roles, perhaps watching from the sidelines those that seem to get those favored roles, wondering when your turn will come?

And then. perhaps like me, there are times when, as we bow at the feet of the One we were created to worship, in moments of glorious insight we willingly and gratefully accept our role in the grand scheme of life.  We have become one of the Wiseman.

Bloggers Note: At the age of 35, the author finally did achieve the goal of becoming Mary, largely because her fifth child Jonathan was Jesus….it seemed a little late.

If you celebrated Christmas growing up, what part did you play in Christmas Pageants and were you satisfied? If you didn’t, were there other areas where you didn’t get the part you wanted? Weigh in through the comments! 

12 thoughts on “Always a Wiseman, Never Mary!

  1. Hey, Marilyn–I remember when Annie was baby Jesus, the year we were all up in Dartmouth (?) N.H. and she was the youngest cousin there:) Unfortunately, there were enough other cousins to be Mary, Joseph, shepherds, AND wisemen! But, on a serious note, this was a very insightful post, and your conclusion is absolutely correct: If we want to be someone, or something else, we cannot be the person who God really made us to be. You are just perfect like you are, Marilyn, and MY kids for sure think you are special:)
    your sis-in-law


    1. Oh we remember that too and laugh about how Allison jumped on Baby Jesus! Such fun memories! Thanks for this comment. I have struggled on and off with this, particularly in relation to a couple roles/people and have slowly moved into my roles with more confidence and thanksgiving. Thanks so very much for the lovely compliment from you and your kids :) So grateful for you. We still need to get you connected to the Stanford Training! You’d be awesome.


    1. Beautifully put Amy – those we war against. It’s exhausting to war against our parts I’ve found – wish I couldn’t speak with such authority on this!! ha! Blessings to you.


  2. When I was eleven, I was picked to play Mary at the school Christmas pageant… and then I fell ill, just a mild fever that caused me to miss a couple of days at school and obviously a few rehearsals.

    Now as you know rehearsals as far as Mary’s concerned, translates into walking down a path (since we couldn’t bring a donkey into the school hall ;-)) in slow measured steps, with Joseph’s arm around her… looking tired and hoping that the pillow stuffed under her robe won’t slip out. Going from inn to inn and finally landing up at the manger, where after a sound and light display of sorts and a short blackout she gets to hold the doll that’s baby Jesus.

    But they cut me!

    And I recovered in time to go watch the Christmas Pageant as a spectator and that really hurt. I still remember it :-(


    1. This is so.wrong! You would have made a far more realistic Mary than a healthy class mate. You have totally captured the role of Mary (the measured steps, pained look….all of it) The worst part of this, of course, is having to spectate and watch another be the favored Mary. That’s even harder than being a Wiseman in purple.


  3. I love the analogy! I have never really wanted the starring role. Though I was the class clown quite a bit. More because I used humor to cover my shyness.

    In grade school, I remember being a shepherd in a Christmas play, and I was quite happy to be off to the side in my bathrobe and crook!


    1. Ahhh – a shepherd! Love it. Have you ever read “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever”? One of my favorite Christmas books where the Wisemen bring a ham from the food basket they got from a shelter….
      Interesting what we use to cover up – thanks for sharing.


  4. Funny, I never wanted to be Mary. I wanted to be a white angel. Our angel chorus was divided into white and yellow angels, and the white angels were the ballerinas, flanking Gabriel and dancing the impressive steps. I was short, so that even friends of mine who were just a year older than I was were white angels, while I got stuck in the yellow angel chorus, which mainly swayed and sang back-up.

    The problem with the Luke 2 account of Jesus’ birth is how few really good roles there are. It’s almost like the author had no idea of the story’s being made into a pageant at all! :-)


    1. Haha! I love this! It’s so true….how rude of the writer to not project ahead to 20th century Christendom! I might add that pageants done by Pakistanis had much larger casts of characters and were much more interesting. Probably because they were far more unsanitized versions of the story! I’m sorry you didn’t get to be the Ballerina Angel…at least you were part of the Heavenly Host.


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