I love to hear my mother tell her story of being an anonymous author. She grew up in rural India in the 1940’s. Most homes had an open-air courtyard encircled by a big wall. It was a way for women to enjoy the outdoors while keeping them hidden and protected from the outside world.
My mom tells of the time when she was about 12 years old. By then, girls had to quit school and stay home until they got married. This was when she discovered her talent for writing poetry. Every week she would write her piece and hand it to the servant boy who would run it to the editor of the local newspaper. She had to use a male pen name because decent women didn’t write for newspapers. Eagerly, she’d have breakfast with her father the morning the newspaper came in. She’d wait to watch her dad read her poem and praise the talent of the made-up male author. I don’t know which she loved more; writing her poetry or listening to her dad praise her poem. Nevertheless, she loved writing so much; she was happy in anonymity.
So often we go through life giving the best of ourselves without receiving any recognition. I’ve watched women work faithfully and consistently in their communities, in their churches, and in their families. I’ve watched people give their utmost without ever being thanked or brought into the spotlight. Women in the East work diligently and lovingly all their lives behind curtains, in hushed tones but no less fervently, championing their children into a new, successful generation. Parents in the West, most often single, assume multiple roles of wage-earner, provider, and nurturer. There are no plaques handed out at the end of the day recognizing their hard work and sacrifice.
Most of our husbandry gets brushed under the rug of daily drudgery.
In the East, thankfulness is not as vocal as it is here in the West. While I learned the concept of thanking others for their thoughtfulness, whether the deeds are big or small, there is much to be learned about living life when you feel anonymous.
The Word of God in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 says “To everything, there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven…” It is how we carry ourselves through the different seasons in our lives that will shape our legacy. Most especially, the difficult and dry seasons where we feel alone and forgotten.
On Sundays, when I stand on the choir platform, I get to see the entire congregation. I smile at my familiar faces, look for new ones, and then check the back pews to see who’s sitting there. I say a quick prayer for them, because, more often than not, they sit in the back pews and close to the exit door for one medical reason or another. Several are former deacons or have held other posts of significant responsibility.
I often wish to encourage and reassure them that while they may not be at the frontlines breaking new ground, God still has plans for them. They may feel like they’ve faded into the background, but the view from the choir platform is very clear. We can feel their quiet strength and faithful dedication up front.