Wednesday, February 3, 2010

When Only God Sees...

I read this inspiring piece for the first time a couple of years ago, entitled "I'm Invisible," a special tribute to Moms.  Perhaps you've read it, too.  Today, it crossed my desk again as "author unknown."  I did just a little research and learned it was written by Nicole Johnson (who has a website of her own  It's apparently an excerpt from her book entitled "The Invisible Woman - When Only God Sees".  For those who may not have seen it (and for those who may want to simply enjoy it again),  I wanted to share it with you. 

I'm 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.
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, and 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 hair 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.


Just a little something from Judy said...

I think Nicole Johnson is quite a prolific and sensitive author. I read two of her books and I thought they were so well written. This is one of them that I really liked, and appreciated that you shared this with the blogworld. Watching my daughter at this time in her life helps me realize again just how relevent her book is. Mothering is hard work and often goes unthanked. Nicole reveals this beautifully. I recommend this book. Thank you for sharing it today.

I always enjoy these informative visits.

Kristi said...

OH my goodness! Thank you for posting this today. I didn't realize how much I needed to read this story until the tears started streaming down my cheeks. Thank you for the encouragement today.

Freddae' said...

Swing by...I have an award for you.


Susan said...

Hey Tracy,

Thanks so much for sharing this. I heard Nicole share this online a year or so ago. I really wanted it in written form. It's great.

Hope you are doing well. I think of you often.


Diana said...

Thanks for sharing. Her performance is posted on You Tube if you want to watch her.

Kathy S. said...

This is making the rounds! I just viewed it on youtube a couple of weeks ago, and right after it came to me via email from a friend.

An encouraging message!
Love to you!

Kathleen Grace said...

Beautiful! i have seen this too, I think every mom feels this, sometimes occasionally,sometimes more often! But it is so true. It is so encouraging to know others share this feeleing and that God always sees what we do and knows we do it for love.

Wylie said...

Hi Tracy! I stopped over from Feddae's blog when I saw that she mentioned your blog in an awards post. I am so gld to "meet" you! I love what you said in your profile about being a mother-in-love. Awesome! I have 3 boys & look forward to saying it {and thinking of it} that way one day. How refreshing! I am following your blog & look forward to getting to know you better. Have a blessed weekend!

Beverly @ My Sew Sweet Studio said...

Thanks, Tracy. I have not seen this before. It is well written and I will look for her book. I would love to share it with my DIL's as they are all stay at home mom's.
Wanted to thank you again for the Chicken Spag. recipe. Have all the ingred to make tomorrow night.
Also thanks for visiting my blog again and the sweet comments.

Smelling Coffee said...

Like you, I've seen this before, but today it was a special blessing. I kind of felt that way when my children left for school this morning... The Lord used your post to remind me of why I do what I do, and I'm so thankful to be able to do it.

Blessings to you, Tracy...

Debra Kaye said...

I just loved this Tracy! I once saw a lady speak on it when she presented it and by the time she was finished, I was in tears.

Quite lovely!

Melanie said...

I love this, Tracy! It has always spoken to me greatly.. specifically in regards to being a Mom. However, today it touched in other areas of my life.. God sees. Even when no one else does... he sees my heart... he sees what I'm willing to do or not do for others. I needed this reminder today. Thank you, my friend!

Anonymous said...

I LOVE this. And yes I've heard it before. But as you know from my post today, it's a great reminder! :-)