I’ve been reminded of something this week. It’s not really all that profound, but this blog is usually generated out of things going on in and around my life, so here it is.
It’s far easier to tear something down than it is to build something up.
I know. I said it wasn’t all that profound. I spaketh the truth…eth.
Matthew and I recently bought another house. I say another, because we still own a house in Charlotte, North Carolina. It’s a nice house and I will sell it to you should you have a hankering to live there. We are not trying to have a house collection.
Our new house is not really new, it’s just new to us, but we completely love it. Or we will. The ink was not dry on the loan papers before my handy husband was in there tearing down walls and pulling up carpet. He thinks nothing of things like pulling down sheetrock walls and moving electrical outlets. One day the house had a drop ceiling in the basement, the next day it didn’t. One day the potty was in the bathroom, and the next it’s on the back porch. This is Alabama, no one really thinks much about potties on the porch here.
All this demolition is exhilarating to my husband. It stresses me out. But my husband has vision. He can see what will be. I see a monumental mess that needs to be cleaned up. I keep pushing him to tell me when it is time to put things back together again. I ask, “When will we be done tearing this house apart?” I am eager to set things right again. It’s just in my nature. Whether it’s a house or a relationship, when something is broken I want it to be fixed as soon as possible. Yet putting things right again takes much longer than it did to tear them apart.
Great relationships can be torn apart in just a word or a careless action. But building it back again takes so much more effort. The Bible says that there is both life and death in our words. The book of James speaks volumes about controlling our tongues. My brother and I used to fight a lot as kids. We’d say nasty things to each other like siblings do. I’d call him a nerd, and he’d tell me I was adopted. Not that there’s anything wrong with being adopted. We were kids. What did we know? (There’s nothing wrong with being a nerd either. Most of us now work for nerds.)
My mom, who didn’t have any siblings, never could understand how we could say such things. She’d say, “If you can’t say something nice just don’t say anything at all.” Had we heeded her warning, we’d probably have rarely spoken to each other.
But that’s just the way of siblings growing up. Thankfully as adults, I can’t remember the last nasty thing my brother said to me. But what about my other relationships? If I am not careful, I am still capable of letting a careless word tear down what has taken me years to build up.
I’m pretty sure we are nearing the end of the demolition phase of this new house project. (Please, Lord.) Soon new walls will go up, new carpet will go down, and fresh new paint will go on the walls. The potty will go back inside the bathroom. Then this empty shell of a house will morph into our family’s new home. Yet the lesson I’ve learned, albeit not very profound, will stick with me.
I need to be about encouraging and building up those I care about, not tearing them down. I need to invest in the relationships that matter to me with words of edification so that the bonds that hold them together grow stronger. I need to remember the damage a carelessly spoken word can do to a precious heart.