Lessons from a late newlywed – Part 5: Building Blocks

For Trung and I, last summer was the season of building – and I mean actual construction. We started two projects at the beginning of the summer: A shed and a kitchen remodel.

Yes, we are a bit crazy I guess.

The shed – let me just brag a bit – is amazing, and Trung did it all from the foundation to the roof, working off a 35 page plan we purchased on Etsy. Sure, I helped measure, put up walls and roof trusses, I hammered a few 2x4s and helped, but by and large he built the shed all by himself. It’s huge. Our neighbor’s daughter thought it was a big playhouse, it was so cute!

The kitchen was another story. Trung quickly sold the older cabinets on Craig’s list, and then I proceeded to “camp” in the kitchen with working appliances, a make-shift sink, and minimal counter… for three months. We had partly demo’d some of the walls to check and see which walls were load bearing and what our options were. All our food sat in fabric bags in the dining room, and the table was lined with pots and pans. It was a bit of a long summer as it sat, unfinished…. until we could finally get a contractor to do all the work we needed done.

When the shed progressed pretty quickly, it stood in stark contrast to the kitchen, with its empty walls on one side and bare bones of the framing peeking out behind the holes in the drywall on the other.

Wow, I thought. What a great analogy for life

Sometimes, there are things you go through personally where, like our shed, it might take time but you have a plan, you know what the outcome should look like, you have the tools and materials you need, and with hard work, you can get there. You might need to borrow a tool from time to time, you might need some help along the way, but by and large, if you work on it, you make progress. This could be getting an education or training, it could be a new job, it could be working on a new habit like eating healthy or exercising. It could be growing in faith or working on being a person less focused on self and more focused on others.

Then there are times where, like our kitchen, you might have a plan, but things get stalled for one reason or another. Projects like those will test your patience and your contentment, as well as your creativity. Then there are “inside” projects, like working through childhood trauma that has surfaced, places of pain and regret, hurt and betrayal, residual anger and frustration…. those tend to look more like our wall: gaping holes that expose what’s underneath.

Those projects are not as fun. We try to avoid them sometimes, because working on them can be exhausting. Why bother? Our exterior coping mechanisms are just fine. Yet in relationships with people, if we don’t pay attention to these things, they will fester and create friction, for they affect everything we do. I could put up new cabinets and a nice coat of paint in my kitchen, I can put in new lighting and appliances, I could host a dinner party – but if those gaping holes aren’t patched or the entire structure removed and re-supported, eventually it will be evident to everyone.

As we are nearly half way through our 2nd year of marriage, I am constantly reminded that our foundation is secure, having committed to walk with each other and with God, but I am consistently reminded that we are still learning the walls that are being framed to build it. Grace, forgiveness, cooperation and friendship are definitely some of the posts. I have to hold myself back from trying to build it all myself (because I can’t of course), and trust that time will help us set up the next posts and build what we need for the coming years ahead.

My challenge to you:

Whether you are in a relationship, a marriage, a partnership, or whether you are building your life by yourself, you are building.

The question is whether or not you are paying attention to how you are building.

Are you building a life that sees service to others as something as a way of life, not an every now and then idea? (Philippians 2:3-7)

Are you allowing the love of God to transform you, so that the fruit of walking with him is evident in your life and your relationships with others? (Galatians 5:22)

Are you building a life where forgiveness has a place, where you do not keep a record of all the wrongs done by the person you love (or those around you). Are you seeking to “bear all things” with your partner, your spouse, your family? (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

Are you doing the work you need to find healing for the hurts in your life, allowing freedom and light to find those places of darkness (John 8:32)? And are you willing to sit with the ones you love as they do the same?

Are you building a life that has room for – and grace for – different opinions, thoughts and ideas? Or are you building one that only has room to hear what you think?

– Paul reminds us that we are to let no debt be outstanding except that of love (Romans 13:8)

– Paul also challenges us that when others have differing opinions of things, remember we each are working out our own faith (Philippians 2:12), and if we are walking with Jesus, honoring him should still be the key centering factor you can agree on

A good partnership, a good marriage, a good friendship all depend on these key pillars, along with so many others. What are some you would add to this list?

By Tama Nguyen

I'm an avid reader, tea drinker, and outdoor adventure seeker. I am convinced that God is still out to fix this broken world, and He uses us to do it. Chasing after things that matter...

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