Do you ever feel invisible?

I do. And today my sister Kathy sent this to me, to remind me that “behind the scenes” can be a blessed place to be.


“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.”

23 thoughts on “Do you ever feel invisible?

  1. Oh. My.God knows just what we need and gives it to us just when we need it. You received a beautiful book with a perfect inscription just when you needed it, and I read this blog entry just when I needed it! In the rush of life, the simplest truths are sometimes hard to remember and we feel like we are standing in a kind of vortex! But it’s just the swirl of life around us. Once in a while, we are reminded (gorgeously) of the truths that hold us up. Thanks, Heidi!


  2. That was lovely. Really lovely. I’m going to share it with some others today who perhaps, like me, feel invisible.THANK YOU!


  3. This story brought tears to my eyes. I know that God is still working on my pride and choosing to repair my broken heart one peice at a time to conform me to his likeness. Reading this helped me to see His perspective today. Thank you.


  4. Okay, I’m a little late to the comments portion of the program, but that beautiful reference to the “cathedral” reminded me of another post I shared earlier this year… it was a quote from a Catholic Cardinal who praised mothers. Read it here. And remember all you hidden mothers out there… such sublime humility is the first step on the path to true sanctity.


  5. This was just what I needed to read. I’m feeling rather stomped on right now and it’s good to be reminded that God see what we are doing and knows how far our reach will extend. It gives me hope and courage to do it all again tomorrow. BTW, I am just up the road from you in Pinckney! I’d love to meet sometime!


  6. I really enjoyed reading your story about being Invisible. It’s so true. It’s like building a skating rink. Takes so many layers of water before the end product is ready. Mothering is the same. Forever picking up laundry, cooking, correcting, caring. Eventually you see the rewards of time well spent. I have 10 kids, joy of my life. I’d like your permission to post your story on being invisible to my website so that other moms can be inspired. What do you think?Irene F.


  7. Sure, Irene … The original author of this is unknown (my sister passed it on to me, as I indicated at the top of the post). It’s always a good idea to share, isn’t it?If you don’t mind linking to my site, that would be great! God bless.


  8. Hi, Heidi, I am Pilvi from CE-forum and just wanted to give my email address in order that you could inform me when your book about “monstermommies” is ready.I would very much like to buy it!So,my email is:plisto@siba.fiThanks in advance, blessings to everybody here!Pilvi


  9. This was such an encouragement to me! Thanks for reminding all of us that our roles as mothers is so much more than just the daily grind. Can’t wait to explore the rest of your blog!


  10. This is so beautiful! I came across your blog and this entry today by following an link from another site … it said if you ever feel invisible to be sure and read your post. I’m not ashamed to admit I cried. Thank you. Thank you for sharing this and thank you for being a blessing in my life today. I know I was meant to read this post and that I needed this reminder. Best Wishes! – Kara


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