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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Invisible Woman

My mother-in-law sent this and it is too good not to pass along.....

Perspective: The Invisible Woman

By Nicole Johnson

It started to happen gradually. One day I was walking my son Jake to school. I was holding his hand and w e 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. That's when I started to put all t he pieces together. I don't think he can see me. I don't think anyone can see me. 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. 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 th at 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: ~ 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, "Bec ause 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 buil t 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.

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted

Living the Supernatural,

12 little hearts from you...:

Sharon said...

Thank you.
I know He sees. Sometimes it is what gives me the energy to continue to do what I do.
He will make all things visible in His time.

Denise said...

This was an awesome post my friend, love you.

Cynthia said...

I had read that one other time and it rings so true. Thank you for the reminder.

Donetta said...

I really enjoyed this post. It is so like the bird no one sees. Yet it would be missed were it not there.

The Dairy Wife said...

A beautiful post. I too have read that before, and each time it is better.

I have an award for you to pick up,if you have time, stop by.


Connie@Little Red Hearts From God said...

Oh Dairy wife... Thank you... for some reason.. I cannot get onto your blog..

let me know what your website is.. and I'll try it that way..

thank you

Cyndee@Riezzee's Place said...

I read this an another blog recently - and it still brings tears to my eyes. I always pray that I might be that "invisible" woman to my husband and my children.

Melli said...

This sure is a great story! Must be makin' the rounds pretty quickly too - my niece posted it today as well!

The Dairy Wife said...


I fixed it ... duh! You have to check mark the box. I wondered why my comments and visits were dropping off. I must have 'fiddled' with it. How funny!

I too am a RN, 30 years. Hospice is my love. 8 years in oncology, 14 years in Neuro ICU, 4 years infectious disease, and now I work for a pharmacy as a IV nurse consultant.

Have a great day!


Bev Brandon said...

this one touched my heart...i'll remember this story...thankyouthankyouthankyou

Susan said...

Dearest Connie,

This is my first time to your AWESOME blog! I'm new in blogland.

I loved this post, thanks for sharing it.

If you don't mind I'd love to list your blog among my favorites!

Thanks for all the labors of love you do for others.

My brother used Hospice and I've witnessed so many other families being blessed as well.

My son is a brain tumor survivor. A patient at St. Jude. Sadly we've sat by way too many bedsides of children who did not make it.

I'll look forward to visiting again.

Blessings to you!


Cheryl said...

This was a wonderful post. It took me a very long time but God finally got it into my head that everything that I do will not be seen by my children. They do not care how much that I do here but they love staying home and that makes everything I do here worth it. God blesses me in so many ways. I loved reading this!