“The Invisible Builder”

“The Invisible Builder

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, “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
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:
1. No one can say who built the great cathedrals – we
have no record of their names.
2. These builders gave their whole lives for a work
they would never see finished.
3. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.
4. 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

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

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
This was emailed to me by a dear friend of mine who is a missionary in Africa.

I hope it will encourage someone here as it did me. It is penned by Nicole Johnson.

5 Responses to ““The Invisible Builder””

  • cindynh:

    wow , that is so powerful!!

    thank you,


  • cindynh:

    I read this to my son 15, and it opened his eyes to who I am and what I am doing.

    Praise God, he cried and gave me a hug and said, THANK YOU MOM.

    It is ALLLLL worth it!! I am a blessed Mom indeed.


  • ROSIE:


  • LeadingThemToHim:

    I love this!

  • honeysrib:

    I needed to read that today! Thank you for posting it!! Life can be so challenging with many little children (although I don’t have that many). I do feel invisible very often! But I usually just praise God for allowing me to be a Mom and a Wife and expect no return.

    Thank you!!

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