Friday, January 20, 2012

Journey of Faith Friday: The Invisible Woman


Earlier this year, I shared a piece of my heart in Bible Study regarding my struggles with being a stay at home mom.  It has been something I have felt very guilty about, at times, but have been so thankful for friends, acquaintances, and strangers who have confirmed I am not alone.  After sharing my heart, another lady in my Bible Study group (with slightly older children) printed this story and handed it to me in an envelope hoping to encourage me.  It WAS and HAS been so ENCOURAGING that I couldn't resist sharing it here on the blog.  I only wish I could find the author.  For all of the MOTHERS out there needing ENCOURAGEMENT.

The Invisible Woman 
Author: Unknown

It started to happen gradually:

One day I was walking my son Jake to school.  I was holding his hand and we were about to cross the street when the crossing guard said to him, 

"Who is that with you, young fella?"

"Nobody," he shrugged.

Nobody?  The crossing guard and I laughed.  My son is only 5, but as we crossed the street I thought, "Oh my goodness, nobody?"

I would walk into a room and no one would notice.  I would say something to my family-like "Turn the TV down, please" -and nothing would happen.  

Nobody would get up, or even make a move for the remote.  I would stand there for a minute, and then I would say again, a little louder, "Would someone turn the TV down?"  Nothing.  

Just the other night my husband and I were out at a party.  We'd been there for about three hours and I was ready to leave.  I noticed he was talking to a friend from work.  So I walked over, and when there was a break in the conversation, I whispered, "I'm ready to go when you are."  He just kept right on talking.

I'm invisible.  

It all began to make sense, the blank stare, 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.

Photo taken with my point and shoot while in India several years ago
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 other 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 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 can not 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.  

Read previous Journey of Faith Friday posts.

Every Friday, I post about the work God is doing or has done in my life, as I journey on this road of faith.  However, since Thanksgiving is next week, I will be taking a break, but back on Friday, December 2nd.

How is God working in your life as you journey with Him?

Would you consider sharing it with us today?

If you decide to share...enter the URL to your exact post below.  If you join, please help us find one another by sharing the "Journey of Faith" graphic within your post.

You can link up through Wednesday.
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The Thomas' said...

Thank you for posting this! What an awesome way to put how many of us mothers are feeling!

Dianna@KennedyAdventures said...

I have seasons where I struggle with feeling invisible, some days more than others. Since beginning to teach my daughter at home, they are fewer and farther between. Nevertheless, the feeling hurts, and I think acknowledgement is necessary to move through it.

Thanks for this reflection, and for hosting this linkup each week!

Tara said...

This is so beautiful! I love it! My husband and I are TTC ( I am struggling with infertility, but the last 2 months i have ovulated!) but we are hoping I will be a stay at home mom, and sometimes it scares me because of these types of feelings.

Laura said...

Great post girl!!

Ashley Sisk said...

I'll have to pin this - what a remarkable story. It pierced my heart and reminds me of all the reasons I want to follow in Charlotte's footsteps. Great story.

Katie Perdue said...

Love this. thanks so much for sharing it!

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. I really needed a new perspective too. :)

katy said...

Okay, I totally teared up while reading this. What a great reminder that our sacrifices are not in vain! Thanks for sharing this.

Rebecca B said...

Thank you for this, Amber! Just what I needed to read today :)

Ross said...

What a great post! It really got me thinking about things. Thanks for laying it all out there like you do.

barefeetbilly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
barefeetbilly said...

There is no one I know more Christ-like than my mother. She has always been there doing the invisible work that you are doing at this time in your life! Your going to be blessed like crazy!

He must become more important, but I must become less important.” John 3:30

Bobi said...

this is so encouraging for at times I feel that way "invisible" and it gets me a bit sad and down but reading this has really opened my eyes to a new way of thinking. I like the last part where all the mom wants is for her son to say that "he likes going home". I desire that for my boys. to want to come home and bring their friends because they like it there. I may share this on my FB account.

Carolina said...

Thank you for sharing this story- really encouraged me today. I'd heard a short version of it before but never read it in detail. You know that I can definitely relate!

Unknown said...

Amber... you know, I have seen this post get buried deeper in my reader, and for some reason I didn't take time to read it until today (I usually read your posts right away, so that is abnormal). I needed this. Thanks you so much for taking the time to share it!