I am pleased to welcome Ginger Blomberg as a writer to our blog (you can read more about Ginger on our About Us page). This is a encouraging post reminding us that our efforts are seen by God.
My friend Elisabeth and I like to eat together. A lot. Our families usually share at least four meals a week so we have lots of opportunities to savor foods that are old favorites and to experiment with new recipes. Sometimes the experiments turn out like culinary works of art (ask Elisabeth to make her shawarma for you some time). Other times they turn out more like paint spills.
Last week one of my (Ginger’s) kids was learning about China, so I googled Chinese recipes and attempted to tackle Beef Lo Mein. Many things didn’t go quite according to plan in the Food Creation Process, but eventually there it was: Sort-of Beef Lo Mein, in the pot, ready to be served.
As the kids were going through the serving line, one of the younger ones made a comment under his breath about the food. I heard one of the older kids respond loudly: “You shouldn’t say that about food someone made for you! Your mom probably just picked this meal because it was really easy to make. You’ll understand when you’re a mom.”
I appreciated the dutiful defense (especially because it made me laugh), but the thing is, it wasn’t actually a very easy meal to make. It took a while. And it was kind of expensive. It was a very small thing, but it reminded me that as a mom it can feel like there are times when I do work for my family that is simply unseen and (in this case, alas, justifiably) unappreciated by them.
I recently read a book with a challenge in it to anyone who feels unseen. The Scars That Have Shaped Me is a true story that took my breath away about one woman’s struggles and sorrows. Vaneetha Rendall Risner begins her story by telling about how she was born in India and contracted polio there as a child. Her family relocated for her medical care, first to the UK and then to the United States, and her body eventually healed, although she still carries the scars left by the unkind actions of others toward her while she was weak. She grew up, followed the Lord, and married. After her first baby, she had three miscarriages. Eventually, she had a son who tragically died at two months old. Not long after that, she developed a chronic illness called post-polio syndrome that is ultimately debilitating. A few years into her struggle with the disease, her husband suddenly and unexpectedly left her.
Through her trials, Vaneetha says that she was “mentored from afar” by the books of Joni Erickson Tada, an author who became a quadriplegic because of an accident as a teenager. One day she got to meet Joni in person and share a meal with her. Vaneetha writes:
“She [Joni] leans toward me, looks me straight in the eye and declares with unwavering certainty, ‘But all these little decisions, these everyday things I surrender, the choices I make daily will one day shine in glory. They will all count.’ I swallow hard. I needed to hear that. These little choices, these seemingly insignificant ways that I have to relinquish what I want, when no one sees and no one else knows, they all count. Because Someone does see, and Someone does know. Not one of these sacrifices will be forgotten.”
God sees us—Joni, Vaneetha, you, and me. Jesus teaches that every little bird, every hair that falls is counted (Matthew 10:29-31). God is watching and caring for everyone walking through the deep and the dark and everyone just learning to nervously wade in to follow Him. Jesus says that even when we give up something up as a sacrifice for God in secret, God our Father “sees in secret” and blesses it (Matthew 6:16-18).
To the mom wiping people; to the professional with the unjust co-worker; to the parent intricately balancing career and family; to the student standing strong when everyone else is compromising; to the spouse guarding him- or herself on a business trip; to the solo parent keeping 8,000 balls in the air at once; to the one providing midnight care to an elderly parent; even, in a much, much smaller way, to the cook whose well-intentioned Sort-of Beef Lo Mein gets fed to the dog: the One Who Sees Eternity sees you, and it all counts.