Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Invisible Woman

I promised my Circle of Friends newsletter ladies I'd post this article today, Nov. 3rd since I didn't have space for it in the newsletter. It's good encouragement for mommies.

The Invisible Woman
By Nichole Johnson

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, "Can't you see I'm on the phone?" Obviously not. No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible.Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, "What time is it?" I'm a satellite guide to answer, "What number is the Disney Channel?" I'm a car to order, "Right around 5:30, please."I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again.She's going, she's going . She's gone!One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a banana clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, "I brought you this."It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: "To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees."In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names.These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, "Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it."And the workman replied, "Because God sees."I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, "I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become."At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, "My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table." That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, "You're gonna love it there."As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.Great Job, MOM

This writing was submitted by Tammy, a pastor’s wife and stay-at-home mom to 18-month old Jed in MN.


Kristin said...

Thanks for posting that Lindsey, and for submitting it Tammy. That truly is a great reminder.

By the way, did you send out the newsletters already? I haven't seen one show up in my e-mail yet and am wondering if there's a problem with my e-mail address since we had a problem last month. If you haven't sent them out yet, then just disregard this message. Thanks Lindsey!

Meredith said...

Do you email newsletters to some instead of snail mail? If it will save you postage and you send out email attachments, you can do that for me, too. (Though isn't there something exciting about seeing it in the mailbox and holding it in your hands?)

Josh & Laura Helweg said...

I Love this article Lindsey, I have read it many times before, and it always leaves me amazed at our power of being a mom. :) Great to keep focused on... especially in these trying toddler times! (I feel like I'm constantly saying NO to Leah and seeming to always make her cry.. frustrating age.. learning to be on one's own... yet not able to make decisions yet! Thanks for the encouragement!

Jason & Tanya said...

As you know my kids are 9 and 7 and we are trying to adopt. I don't think this only happens when the kids are itty bitty. I think it happens all the way until the day you die or may be when they are on their own, I don't know. However, I wish for the times when my kids depended on me more, SOMETIMES. I wish I could turn back the hands of time when I brought Nathan home from the hospital and Jenna was still little enough to fit on my lap. Now, I get a quick hug and kiss and then MOM...your smothering me. I always just say, Just a minute more, please. :) I digress, this post was awesome. It is so true. We are the ones behind the scenes. The ones who sometimes don't get seen or heard but needed just the same or more. The human race would be in pretty bad shape without "true" mommies wouldn't it? :)

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