Friday, May 9, 2008

"I am invisible"

My neighbor Kelly sent me to this a number of months ago and I found it so inspiring. In honor of Mother's Day, I wanted to share it with all the moms out there who need a little encouraging (and I am one of them) ...

PS - Sorry for the blue line to the left - not sure quite how to get rid of it (and of course don't have time to figure it out)!

To Moms and Dads everywhere,

I am invisible!

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, "Pick me up about 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:

1. No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of
their names.

2. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished.

3. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.

4. 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.

Live Simply. Love Generously. Care Deeply. Speak Kindly. Leave the rest to


Chris Ann Schultz said...

Thanks for the cute Mother's Day thought. I believe I've read it before, not sure if you sent it to me. It was very meaningful. Like the other day when a friend from church told us we were great parents/I needed to hear that. Teaching is full of reinforcement, but parenting isn't always, other than flowers from Chantel, hugs, and kisses. It's the "toughest job you will ever love." Thanks for sharing the reminders. We know that Chantel will be something someday; we just have to tough it out now to train her to be the person God wants her to be. Raising a firstborn, leader, isn't easy! I should know, from experience, except I heard, I was much easier to raise!:-) Chris Schultz

ErinOrtlund said...

Thanks Amy! A great Mother's Day reminder! I wonder if being "invisible" is harder for our generation--since so many of us became moms after having had a career for several years. I love the comparison to the builders of cathedrals!