Living in Upside-Down Houses
Part two of a three-part series (8 min read)
A lifetime ago, I was in college : ).. doing a Post- Grad Diploma in Social Communications & Media. Back in ‘those days’ they weren’t many institutions offering Mass Communication Courses and those that did, focussed their energies on teaching their students the how to’s – how to shoot a video, how to take a photograph, how to write a script, how to construct a press release and so on.. But this Course was different.
We worked from an out-dated studio; our cameras were functional but not state -of -the- art and while lectures on the mechanisms of video, film- making, journalism etc were part of the curriculum, they were clearly not central to it. I’ve never forgotten the words of Jeroo Mulla, the Head of the Department – “ You can learn all about the latest communication technologies out there, she said, “ but will you have anything to say?” –
A truth that’s dawned brighter in my understanding ever since I first heard it – foundations must come first; content must necessarily precede form. Messages derive their impact not from the slickness of the presentation but rather from the weight of its material! Jeroo’s clarity of focus transformed my life. She taught me that the “what” was foundational and that the “how” though not unimportant built on it. Foundations – how terribly important they are and sadly how often we miss recognizing them. That’s the problem really – we plain don’t ‘see’ what must stand on what! And consequently our lives look like houses that are built upside-down.
Take our kids for instance. We believe we’re ‘building them up’ by throwing them into swimming classes, piano classes, Abacus classes and so on. Not that these aren’t beneficial in themselves, but in all of this are we neglecting the real foundation of our kids’ future success? – face-time...with us? Isn’t it the one-on-one time we spend chatting, laughing, instructing, playing and shaping the “God-ward orientation of their hearts”* that anchors their sense of self-worth, security and confidence? – aren’t these the very resources they need to successfully face the challenges of the future? It’s the foundation that determines the stability of EVERYTHING that comes after, but for some reason we tend to put EVERYTHING before the foundation!
As women, we invest oodles of fantasy-time ( and real time) planning our weddings and so little in preparing our hearts for marriage. Then we wait to reach the next milestone – getting pregnant. It’s an error to assume that the baby will solve our marriage problems as it was to assume that marriage will fill the vacuum of our souls. It’s a healthy marriage that cradles the baby and our active, personal relationship with Jesus that bedrocks our marriages. Having strayed into the subject of marriage, allow me to ask us a question – what would we say is foundational to building a strong relationship? – things like trust, acceptance, respect, time, peace? Are we then working against these foundations being cemented in our relationships in fighting for the things we say we rightfully need?
Examples abound. Upside down constructions lie unnoticed in many corners of our lives. I myself am just beginning to see the importance of ‘seeing’ what needs to support what! This has wide implications whether we’re running an institution or building a family or simply sifting through a decision about our next steps. For example, my husband is contemplating re-starting a company that he’d closed down some years ago. A month back, he felt that God was asking him to write down the values that would underlie this effort, even as his mind was whirring with different strategies and plans. Now I understand why. God, the master strategist, knows what must come first for the building to stand strong!
In fact what I love about God’s Word, the Bible is that it is so replete with foundational truths. “Seek thee FIRST” Jesus said, His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you as well. I used to think of this teaching of Jesus’ as a kind of divine barter offer – a “you take care of my business and I’ll take care of yours” kinda deal. But now I’m beginning to see it in a different light. It’s about Foundations. The Father knows that ultimately, He is the vital foundation that makes everything else in our lives hold firm. So also, when He says that wives must respect their husbands and husbands should cherish their wives, He’s laying the ground; the foundation that makes everything else work. He says respect BEFORE…, cherish BEFORE…and we say respect AFTER…, cherish AFTER..( I leave you to fill in the blanks!) If you’re sighing here, know that I’m sighing with you! But here’s a closing thought to hold on to – ‘seeing’ the upside- down house is mostly what we need to set it back straight again. What we do need to pray for though is that we’ll see!
*phrase borrowed from Ted Tripp’s exceptional book, “Shepherding a Child’s heart”