Thursday, April 4, 2013

when no one notices

This dish.

Beautiful china, tiny roses.  Wrapped in press n' seal, placed in our freezer with a meal, three years ago when the bottom dropped out of our world. 

I looked for a note, a marking, some clue to the whereabouts of the owner and the person who had taken time to prepare, braved the unknown to deliver their kindness. 


I asked around, kept my ears open, checked off all of the people I thought it might belong to, and after two years of no one claiming the dish, I started using it.

Every time I lay bread slices on it, muffins, strawberries, I think of the unnamed person who blessed us and never was thanked.

I think of the kindness that no one noticed, the offering that went to the seemingly ungrateful, the good deed that never got a thank you card.

I think of the frustration that I feel bubble when I offer good deeds to the thankless;  it's . . . well, thankless.

But a thankless task, an unnoticed offering, a kindness unrequited: it's a little hollow, maybe, but oh so important. Thankless does not equate unnecessary.

Today in the middle of teaching third grade and kindergarten and managing trying to love a toddler through a green playdoh snake mess,  I think: this job doesn't pay enough and I want the thank you, the pat on the back, the hey you did great today, the you matter and you're important. Never mind the sweet nothings, how about a paycheck to compensate the stress?  That could work too. 

I picked up my coffee mug to get some liquid encouragement and squinted down at 5 little green playdoh balls, floating in my Dunkin' Donuts blend.  Flavor of the day. I blink tears. 

No one notices. 

Or does someone notice?

Or does that even matter? 

why am I here?  why do I show the kindness?  what are my motives?

[so when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full] Matthew 6:2

But. . . I like trumpets. . . maybe trumpets would help. . . maybe we need to queue up some Henry Purcell for the weekdays.

Actually I'm all about trumpets.  But if I'm living for the trumpets, Jesus points out so clearly, then I'm living for the trumpets.  And that's the reward.  To be honored by others?  That's why I'm loving my kids?  That's why I show kindness?

Well, that's humbling to throw out there.

[So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit.] Galations 6:9

Maybe the right time doesn't mean that Eli will thank me for reading I am a Bunny 42 times this week.

Maybe the right time . . . to be thanked. . . is not going to be here.

Am I okay with that?

Am I okay with pouring my life out and never being noticed, the thank you note left unwritten?

Yes, I am, right now, with my feet kicked on the coffee table, my children in bed, my own playlist through the speakers, but the rubber doesn't meet the road while I'm writing in my calm 10pm living room. 

The rubber meets the road when people put playdoh in my coffee and my kindergartener's eyes glaze over and she shrugs:

I dunno, 1 + 2?  Um. . . 56?

I have perspective when I can back away.

But when I'm in the thick of it, life closes in and I struggle and I just want a lil thank you note, y'know?

And I'm full circle, back to the dish in my cupboard, back to the feeling of being overwhelmed by a stranger's kindness, back to the carried part of my life where I didn't take a single step alone.

Back to the dish that didn't seem to matter. 

But it did matter.

To you, the unnoticed:

You matter.

Thank you.

Thank you for being kind, for being faithful, for caring, for doing good when no one notices, for loving without the fanfare.

Thank you for loving when those you love don't love you back.

Thank you for demonstrating faithfulness.

More thoughts on being overwhelmed:

A Life Plan When You're Overwhelmed: Sanity Manifesto


  1. I really like this one! I am day care provider by day and single mom by night. With a 6 year old and a 3 year old it is a thankless task. And childcare only seems like a lucrative business when you are paying for it, the receiving end is far less glamorous! I try to stop and thank myself every now and then. Only I know how hard I work. Only I know what I truly sacrifice. So it seems fitting for me to be the one dishing out the thanks. One day I will be very thankful that I took the time to lay a solid foundation for my kids. And when they are grown and out of the house I will be thankful that I took the time to smell the roses with them. That is the thanks I will grant myself...a trumpet here or there wouldn't be bad though;-)

  2. What a great post! Thanks for sharing.

  3. thank you for taking the time to write out your thoughts. i loved this post, i love your blog :)