Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Invisible Mother

I received a note in my in-box with this story. I don't know who the author is, but I sure do appreciate her! It brought me to tears.

Invisible Mother.....

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. The invisible Mom.

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. 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.

Aren't you thankful for this great task we've been given as mothers (builders)?

Join Iris for more thanksgiving today.


lori said...

I saw that on a card once....
I have it somewhere..It brought me to tears too....
so many times we feel unnoticed as "moms" but HE sees it all...and HE called us to this ministry of raising HIS children...
thanks Heather...I needed this, perfect morning for it!!


Susan said...

"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."

Ouch, have you been reading my mail lately? Too close to home.

I've read this beautiful email and almost posted it, in fact I've saved it for the perfect occasion, "Mother's Day".

Thanks once again for being so transparent. God loves a heart like yours.

Blessings to you Heather this TT!

Angie said...

Heather--someone sent me a very similar e-mail a few months ago. Tears--yes. Joy---yes...for a God who knows and understands!

Lysa TerKeurst said...

Beautiful post Heather.

And thank you for your insights you shared on my blog today.

I agree that I have been surprised and blessed by the community we seem to have. I feel badly sometimes that I don't get the chance to comment on other's sites as often as I would like. But I agree that it is a good practice.

Sweet Blessings dear friend!

Heather said...

Beautiful.... It's a daunting task that we have been given. I pray every day that our little one will grow to be who God wants her to be. If He uses me to help her get there, I count it a privilege!

Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

i've read that before, it's so touching isn't it? It sure makes you feel better that someone recognizes those buildings instead of just being hands!

thanks for visiting the pms club today!

Sita Henderson said...

In the midst of being taken for granted, being unappreciated, being 'invisible', God has been teaching me that my duty is to simply obey what He has given to me to do today, like taking care of my family. It is not my duty or right to see the results, because what is happening in the invisible realm, the eternal realm, is in His time zone.
However, because of the culture we live in that is so results-oriented, motherhood has to be one of the most disheartening of all tasks. That is why God has been teaching me that my worth comes from status as His child, not from any of my accomplishments. So, I am working to that point where I realize that it is only His smile that brings the eternal satisfaction I long for. Meanwhile, it is my joy to obey Him because I love Him.
Thank you for your reflective post. Heather.
Love, Sita

Melanie said...

Wow! I have read this before, but it still affects me in the same way it did the very first time I ever saw it. And, today, was a day I needed to be reminded. My family is all sick and I'm the only one standing to take care of everyone. Yea, I'm feeling a bit invisible... but thankful at the same time. And, most definitely thankful that I landed right here this afternoon to be reminded of all I have to be thankful for and the awesome responsiblity the Lord has given to me!

Vicki said...

Such a good post. I missed posting today for TT..might do it tomorrow. Wanted to just stop by and visit and see how you're doing. Love you bunches.


Denise said...

Beautiful, so beautiful my friend.

Joyful said...

Hi Heather,
What a beautiful post. I have never read this before. I loved the fact that Charlotte's friend Janice saw her greatness reflected in a book of Cathedrals - magnificant pieces of architecture. What a most meaningful gift. To think that there's any 'greatness' coming from the routine and 'invisible' things we do daily as mother's is such an encouragement. Thank you for sharing this.


Gina said...

Lovely thoughts. *tears*

eph2810 said...

What a beautiful reminder, Heather. I had to smile about the part that our God sees what we don't, even when no one else ever notice. For me that is 'reward' another that my Heavenly Father sees.

Thank you so much for sharing this story and your grateful heart with us this past week.

Blessings to you and yours.

Elleth said...

The author is: Nicole Johnson it's a segment from the book titled "The Invisible Woman" with the subtitle "When Only God Sees".

The amazon book description says:
" Charlotte Fisher has two children, a good marriage, and a big problem---her family sees what she does, but they can't see her! When a friend shares a book on the great cathedrals of Europe and their anonymous artisans, Charlotte is amazed to find the answer to her question, "Do I matter?"---and you will, too! 93 pages, hardcover from Nelson."