The following is something I’ve come to realize about myself, and by sharing it, I hope that if some of you have felt this way, maybe you’ll see how I got through it and take a similar path. If not, hey, it’s a blog post. Another on Monday.
Imagine you’re a builder – not an architect, but someone who’s handy enough to put up a wall, make a room, maybe cobble together a shack. The thing is, you built your home on sand. You figured this out after the fact, and it wasn’t your intention to do so, but by doing so, you’ve made it much harder for anyone living in that house. Sometimes, a room tilts and becomes unusable, so you nail shut that door and you make a new room somewhere else. Other times, the stairs don’t go where they should any more, so you have to throw together a ladder or some such.
And as things shift, you’re thinking, “God, this house wasn’t built on the right foundation. I built on sand! I’ll never be able to fix this, but if I don’t keep on trying, I’ll die.”
In this story, you are possessed of a great fear. You see all that you’ve built as temporary and not good enough, and you realize that for all you’ve done, it’s still going to crumble, but that you’ll die if it does, because it means that you couldn’t do it all, that you weren’t the great builder you hoped to be, or worse, that you knew all along that you weren’t the best builder, but that you could do enough to keep things going, as long as you could work fast and hard enough.
But That’s Not Really What Happens
When you stop building, the house will fall apart. That part is true. But the thing is, everyone will get out. You’ll get out. You’ll have no house for a little bit. But that’s also temporary. You’ll have to find a better foundation obviously. Only the crazy would try and rebuild on sand again, right? But everyone will make it out alive. Some new kind of house will be built. You will learn how to build again. And no one dies.
Because Death Is a Stand-In
That fear of death is actually misplaced. The Builder thinks its death he or she fears. But what he or she fears is truth. “Death” isn’t death in this story; it’s the truth. The Builder did it wrong. The Builder couldn’t sustain what he or she built. The Builder was going to let some people down, was going to face disappointment from all over the place. That truth often gets confused with death in one’s fears. And if not death, than something equally painful and worth avoiding.
But We Always Live
What the Builder does next is what matters most, I would think. Because we all live. We can feel anger, sadness, grief, disappointment, inadequacy, and a whole raft of other emotions. They pile up beside us like every cracked shingle and every warped frame we ever built with before. But when we inspect those feelings, when we look at where those feelings take us, when we make amends with some of how those feelings came to be(those bad building materials), then the obvious next step is to build with better material, and to build with good, solid, strong, love-worthy materials. And in this, we should almost always seek out better teachers, because we probably have learned a bit from the house that fell down, but we have a lot more to learn, and we can use help.
I’m a Builder. I suspect some of you are, too. And I’ve let a few of my houses fall down lately, as maybe you have. It’s what I do next that I hope gives me a legacy worth passing on, and it’s how I help us all live that will bring me my best joy. I’m still possessed of many fears, but for each one I find, I toss that board in the fire, and I seek out stronger building materials. I suspect you do the same, don’t you?