Tuesday, January 4, 2011

This year I will become more invisible...

The 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.'

Some days I'm a crystal ball; 'Where's my other sock?, Where's my phone?, What's for dinner?'

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history, music and literature -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. She 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 she 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: '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 story of legend 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. 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, no Cub Scout meeting, no last minute errand 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.

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 3 hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built 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, he'd say, '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 mothers.

This was sent to me in an email some time ago and I kept it knowing I would want to read it again. It's the start of a new year and everyone is setting new goals and making resolutions, including myself, but it just wasn't really setting very well with me. I have my ever long list of things I would like to quit doing (drinking soda), start doing (exercise at least occasionally), and be better at (you name it...). I think it is time for me to be the kind of person I really want to be and stop wishing I was her. I am going to be a builder, a builder of my family, my children, myself, and those who I come in contact with. I can choose love, service, and sacrifice over bitterness, hurt feelings and selfishness. I can choose to do more of what He sees and less of what only others can see. Some of those choices will be easy ones and others will be much more difficult, but I can't see how this can do anything but make my life better and more fulfilling. I am ready for a new year, making better choices, loving more, giving more, and taking less, even if that means being invisible to some at times.


Jenifer said...

Love this. And the best part is that I know you can totally do it. You can totally be that person you've always wanted to be. Plus, pretty much everyone who knows you already thinks you're pretty super fantastic even if you just stay the same.

stacy said...


Joe said...

Great post! It's so old school to do things because of what God thinks, and not because of what people think, and you're right, it makes life more fulfilling. It's going to be an awesome year.

Tisa City said...

Sweet girl, you all ready do this. You are a GREAT woman, mother, and wife who gives it ALL. I admire you and love you. I believe we should all try to improve ourselves and it is my goal to be like you!

Cindy said...

My Dear, Shawna. You are absolutely AMAZING!!!!!