Tuesday, March 3, 2009


I saw this last year on this blog and just had to reprint 
it here. I think this applies to anyone, not just mothers
 of small children. At one time or another I am sure we 
all feel like we are working in vain and unappreciated.

"I'm invisible..... "

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of 
response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room 
while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. 
Inside I'm thinking, "Can't you see I'm on the phone?"

Obviously not. No one can see if I'm on the phone, or 
cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my 
head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. 

I'm invisible.

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can 
you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some 
days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. 
I'm a clock to ask, "What time is it?" I'm a satellite guide
to answer, "What number is the Disney Channel?" I'm a
 car to order, "Pick me up right around 5:30, please."

I was certain that these were the hands that once held 
books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that 
graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared
into the peanut butter, never to be seen again.

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the 
return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back 
from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the 
hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the 
others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare 
and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style 
dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My 
unwashed hair was pulled up in a banana clip and I was 
afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it.

I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with
 a beautifully wrapped package, and said, "I brought you this. 
"It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't 
exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her 
inscription: "To Charlotte, with admiration for the 
greatness of what you are building when no one sees."

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And
I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing 
truths, after which I could pattern my work:

No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have 
no record of their names.

These builders gave their whole lives for a work they 
would never see finished.

They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.

The passion of their building was fueled by their faith 
that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came 
to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a 
workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was 
puzzled and asked the man, "Why are you spending so much 
time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by 
the roof? No one will ever see it."

And the workman replied, "Because God sees."

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. 
It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, "I see you, 
Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even 
when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, 
no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too 
small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great 
cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become."

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a 
disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of 
my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, 
stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself 
as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job 
that they will never see finished, to work on something that 
their name will never be on.

The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals 
could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few 
people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the 
friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, "My 
mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies,
 and then she hand- bastes a turkey for three hours and presses
 all the linens for the table." That would mean I'd built a shrine
 or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home.
 And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 
"You're gonna love it there."

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen 
if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the 
world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty
 that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women."


Becky said...

That. was. awesome. I'm all teary from reading it because I am sooooo living it right now... I am not invisible to The One who knows all.

Thank you for posting this today.

I'm gonna print it out for all my mommy friends... after permission of course.

Laura ~Peach~ said...

THank you!
HUGS Laura
I woudl like ot copy this too please MAY I?

mary said...

What a encouraging word for every mom! I need to be reminded that I am working on the eternal, not just cleaning house and cooking meals. Thanks for the great, uplifting post :)

Debbie in CA : ) said...

Once upon a time I felt this way EVERY DAY. Now I see my children doing, becoming, accomplishing, and I rejoice that He saw me in those invisible days and kept me going when I didn't think I had the strength . . . or the will. Thank you so much for resurfacing this gem. I have been touched.