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What Are You Building When No One Is Watching?

Nicole Johnson says oftentimes she feels like an invisible woman. Between all the thankless work she does for her family or her husband ignoring her at a party, she was starting to feel unnoticeable. Yet the gift of a friend helped her hear a timely message from God: “I see you. You are not invisible to me.”

Johnson shares a story about her friend coming back after a trip to Europe, where she saw, among other wonderful sights, lots of cathedrals. Upon returning, Johnson’s friend gave her a book about some of the most famous cathedrals in Europe. Inside the front cover of the book, her friend wrote: “With admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.”

Not only was the thoughtful inscription inside the book meaningful, Johnson drew even more lessons from the book’s contents. One of the things Johnson learned is that we can’t name the people who built those impressive cathedrals. In fact, a lot of the builders of the cathedrals are listed as “unknown.”

Johnson shares another story she read from her gift: A builder was carving a tiny bird on a beam that was going to be covered up by the roof. When asked why he was spending so much time on something no one would see, the builder said, “because God sees.”

Some cathedrals took over 100 years to build. Yet the builders showed up day after day to finish the “mammoth work” that they might never have the privilege of seeing in their completed states. The commitment to work on such a massive undertaking took a lot of sacrifice. So much so that the writer of the book says, “No great cathedrals will ever be built again because so few people are willing to sacrifice to that degree.”

Now, Johnson says, she sees her invisibility in a different way. Instead of being a disease, “It is the cure to my self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my own pride.”

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