If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make any sound?
It always annoyed me, that old philosophical question. Seemingly deep but mostly reduced to a cliché, trite and shallow from overuse. Well. Then it suddenly applies.
I have spent a lot of time wondering about the things I do all day long, the things no one sees, the things that seem to make zero difference in the world at large. If I do them and nobody sees, does it make any difference? Do I make any real noise? After most of 2 years being fairly isolated due to the wonderful world of fibromyalgia, this question has resonated in my heart. When confronted with the idea that I might never return to the “outside world” or workforce, what then do I contribute within my four walls?
It’s a bigger question, reaching beyond those working life around chronic illness. I’ve talked to two of my very dear friends this week who echoed these thoughts.
Though in different seasons, both women wondered aloud to me whether what they were doing inside their four walls mattered. Social girls, both, now navigating a season of solitary work for different reasons. One friend is the homeschooling mom of 4, her oldest about to launch into the military. One friend is another homeschooling mom who is also the full-time caregiver for her elderly mother.
Both women work behind the scenes, without recognition, without most people even knowing what they do. But they put their all into it. And then they get up the next day and do it again. They each voiced to me the burden of the everyday, the sameness, the hard pieces of this season of in-between. And they wonder if they make any sound in this world.
But this is Holy work. Truly. I remind myself as I reminded them. This behind-the-scenes-daily-sameness is what keeps life going. This is the underpinning of it all; without these sacred routines of service and love, their loved ones’ lives would not work. Nor would my loved ones’ lives.
In Matthew 23, Jesus calls the Pharisees out on their desire to do everything to impress other people, more concerned with the opinions of those around them than with truly pleasing God and serving others. This is the opposite of the heart my sweet friends carry, these warrior women who love and serve God and their families fiercely. But I know so many who understand this feeling of invisibility, myself included. Know you aren’t invisible. Know God sees and knows. The work done within our own four walls is done not to be seen by society, but is done to bless those we love.
We make our own sounds, sometimes only heard by those at closest range to us and by our Creator. In serving them, we serve Him. In loving behind the scenes, in doing this Holy work, we bless His heart.
Whatever our season, we need to (meaning I need to) keep foremost in our mind the audience of One we truly serve, whether our voices and our noises echo outside our four walls or not. They echo in eternity.