My sister-in-law has a saying that comes to mind at least once a week. “There are no free t-shirts when you’re a stay-at-home mom.” That couldn’t be truer. Devoting myself solely to raising our kids and managing our home brings little, if any, tangible reward or payment. There are no paychecks, no bonuses, no incentive trips or awards. While some of my friends are receiving promotions or accolades at work, my “employees” reluctantly do chores and grumble over my requests. My lunch hour is usually spent either taking bites of leftovers between laundry loads or it’s delayed until 2:30pm when the errands are finally complete. While I know this is what I chose and I have no regrets over my decision, sometimes the reality of that choice is difficult and discouraging.
The truth of the matter is that I often wrestle with a dull but consistent fear that I am merely a footnote in other people’s stories. That I am invisible. I am my children’s mother, my husband’s wife and my working peers’ friend. I find myself being identified by my relationship or proximity to those around me. I even wind up in conversations extolling the successes of my family and friends, with little to mention about my own accomplishments.
It is so difficult because I am ready. I hear about my peers that are in the throes of pursuing their dreams and I want that. I see them going hard and fast after the next chapter in their journeys. I watch them chase and achieve, learn and accomplish. And I have the same tug in me. With all of my children now in school full-time, I sense glimpses of my potential future. I feel undercurrents that hint at what might be coming for me. I am eager to be a major plot point rather than a footnote.
But for now, God has made it clear that any pursuit will have to wait. For now, God is calling me to obedience. I will be homeschooling my 7th grader this year and it will encompass a great deal of my time and energy. It was a necessary decision and something we are confident will be rewarded. But it is still a bit paiful. Instead of building something new for myself, I will be neck deep in algebra and Spanish I. Considering what is before me, my footnote seems to be growing smaller while everyone else’s story looms larger.
Reflecting on the idea of being a footnote, however, two thoughts occur to me. In my last post, we got to know Moses’ mother, Jochebed, and we marveled at the depth of her faith. You may remember that there is little mention of her in scripture. Aside from the narrative in Exodus and a couple genealogical references, she is essentially a footnote in a much larger story. However, when she is extolled centuries later by the author of Hebrews, we learn a valuable and glorious lesson.
God reads the footnotes.
No matter how tiny the print or how brief the mention, God reads every word of every story. He studies not only the major plot points, but each seemingly minor detail as well. The bibliography, the index, the acknowledgments. And the footnotes. He misses nothing. So while I may feel like a footnote, there is amazing grace to be found in the assurance that my God is intimately aware of my comings and goings and they are highly significant to him.
Secondly, as I sit quietly and wrestle with the feeling that I am irrelevant and invisible, God quietly whispers the most important truth there is. “You are the center of my story.” Regardless of what role I play in the stories of my family and friends, my significance ultimately comes from the fact that I play a central part in the greatest story ever. I am at the very heart of the epic tale of Christ. I am the target of his sacrifice and the object of his affections. I am the reason he came and he has great plans for me. And that is no small thing.
I am certainly not going to propose that these two revelations change everything. They don’t minimize my yearnings or squelch my ambition. I still look forward to my next steps and anticipate the upcoming chapter in my story. But what these two promises do for me is to remind me that I am seen and that I am important. That my story counts. That it is worthwhile and valuable. And perhaps, most importantly, that it is not over.