Thursday, September 20, 2007

Honesty 101

Honesty 101 is now in session. The reason I haven't posted in a while is because I haven't had anything amusing to post. I enjoy making people laugh, and having people think I'm clever, and I'll admit that I haven't been very clever lately. I've had boring days, and busy days and a run of really bad days. I've admitted and apologized to my husband and kids and my girls Bible study that I've just been in a bad mood and can't seem to shake it.

Jake and I have been reading Dr. Seuss' Hop on Pop. There's a line that pretty much sums up my life right now: "Dad is sad. Very very sad. He had a bad day, what a day dad had." ("Ang" or "mom" doesn't really rhyme as well as "dad," but it sure seems to fit).

I've been wallowing in my small little problems. Rolling my eyes (and wiping tears from them) when yet another minor catastrophe bombards my day. I feel like nobody notices or cares quite enough about the woes of Ang's world, and so I talk about them all day long to be sure everyone is listening.

"Angela Marie Stump!"

"Yes, Lord?"

"I'm listening, and I'm not sure I like what I hear. You want recognition for each diaper you change and pity for your circumstances from a stranger? What about your eternal reward? Is my 'well done' not enough for you?"

Hmmm. Right. Needed a little perspective, didn't I. Well, I found it with the help of the Bible's promises, and a short story someone forwarded to me. I'm condensing it, but here's the part that got me:

The Invisible Woman by Nicole Johnson

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 this for you."

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.

Thank you, Lord for giving my soul a little food. I'm ready to shake the mood. I'm losing the 'tude. It's all good, dude.

You get the point.


Anonymous said...

Wow, that is so encouraging Ang. I know I feel like that often as a mom. Thanks for sharing your heart. I want another playdate!! You in?

Marla Taviano said...

I hear you, girl. I just got done shaking a week-long mood early this morning. It was about time.

You matter.

Randy said...

Great post, Ang. Your investment in your kids and your husband, and your relationship with God, is far more significant and lasting than building cathedrals. I love you.


Jessica said...

Thanks for the encouragement, such a reality check. With Jake being gone I have hard days sometimes and that story will remind me that when Jake isn't there God is.

Tricia Swift said...

hey I'm right there with ya ang. being a mom isn't easy! I often have to give myself a time out in the day to ask God what the heck am I doing and ask Him for guidance. the only way to get through it is HIS way. thanks for the great blog to read, you are a very insightful person! I appreciate you- Tricia

Stacy said...

I don't know if you remember me, but this is Stacy (Hill), I am a good friend of Becca's from Barlow. Anyway, the story on your page made me cry, I liked it so much that I found the whole story online and posted it on my blog. Thanks for the inspiration. By the way... Your boys are absolutely adorable. I hear so much from Becca, but it's nice to read about them myself sometimes, thanks for sharing.