Wednesday, February 27, 2008


I read this today and it really spoke to me. I have a wonderful family who loves me so much. Just some days aren't as good as others, right? We all go thru that. When no one hears what you say then says, "you didn't tell me that," when people look around you to watch TV, when no one notices that the house has been cleaned....God sees you and hears you. And is proud of you. And thinks you are beautiful.

I'm Invisible

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids walks into the room while I'm on the phone and asks for something. 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.

The Invisible Mom.

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, "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. "She's going, she's going, she's gone!"

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 hair clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned tome 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. 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 norecord 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 theeyes 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 will see."

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. Then, if there is anything to say to his friend, it could be, "You're gonna love it here!"

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.


Angie L. said...

Oh, I love this! I am already having a rough week because I am fighting a terrible sinus infection while trying to prepare for my daughter's 2nd birthday party set for this weekend. Thank you so much for posting this story. It is a wonderful reminder that the little everyday things I do really make a great impact. Hugs to you.

Angie L.

Jana said...

I loved this too.....yes, sometimes I feel very very invisible but have high hopes all my work will pay off someday!

Jackietex said...

Thank you, this was a good day to read that story.

KALDesign said...

This brought tears to my eyes. When your kids are grown like mine are and busy with their own lives, it is good to have a reminder like this, that you had a part in building their lives. It is nice when they occasionally still call and ask, "How do you do -----?" or "Can you fix -----?"
Thanks for starting my day off remembering it is ALL FOR GOD!!!!

Anonymous said...

Jennifer, you have no idea how much I NEEDED that today! I've been feeling invisible outside the house too but this gave me just the nudge I needed to remember who DOES see me!


Anonymous said...

Love it !
When you have an extra minute(ha!ha!) I am interested to know what you thought about the Flip. Thanks!

Betsy said...

Thank you for sharing that, Jennifer! I have seen it before, but I love it because I think we all feel that way sometimes!

Julia said...

TFS Jen..I can so relate given I watch little ones during the day and well am Mom at night. Sometimes it's just too much!

Nancy said...

Thank you! You made my day!

Nancy in MA

Anonymous said...


Thanks so much for the words of encouragement. It was very uplifting as I have been having a couple of "those days" lately.

(from the aol scrapbooking board)