Monday, July 20, 2009

Build up, tear down

I just wanted to start off by saying that I really appreciate everyone who contributes to this blog. It is so nice to have something inspiring to read everyday, and know the person who wrote it! So thanks for all you do, I know it is a stretch sometimes trying to come up with something to say.

Anyway, I was reading several articles today but none of them stood out to me as particularly amazing- no red sparks anyhow. But I found this poem in a folder of old things and thought it was worth posting. You may have already heard it but I think the message is always good for a repeat.

I passed one day through a lonely town,

And saw a man tearing a building down.

With a hoe heave hoe, and a husky yell,

They swung a beam and a side wall fell.

I asked the foreman"are these men skilled,"

"The kind you'd hire if you had to build?"

"Oh no," He chuckled, "No indeed"

"The common laborer is all I need"

"Well I can destroy in a day or two"

"What builders have taken weeks to do"

I thought to myself as I went on my way,

Which of these roles have I tried to play?

Am I a builder who works with care?

Strengthening lives by rule and square?

Shaping my peers to a well made plan,

Helping them do the best they can?

Or am I the one who walks around,

content with the labor of tearing down?


I think once I heard this poem in Sacrament meeting but I was too young and inexperienced to know what it was really talking about. I wasn't able to see the symbolism.

But now I know that it is talking about how we relate to other people. Do we build them up with our words and encouragement or do we tear them down with our doubts and fears?

Sometimes what we need from friends is their faith in us, and their faith in God. What we don't need is hearing how "whatever can go wrong, will go wrong".

It seems like it is human nature to be a "destroyer" more than it is to be a "builder" (when relating to other people, not to objects I mean). One particular day as a substitute teacher sticks out in my mind. I was subbing for a gym teacher in an elementary school. The activity for the day was called "builders and destroyers". There were two teams, and each of them took turns being either builder or destroyer. The builders all had pins (like for bowling) that they were to set up, and keep picking up as needed. The destroyers had to knock them down with their hips. At the end of the game, the coach would count how many pins the builders had kept up.

As I watched, it seemed like the kids more longed to be the "destroyers" than the "builders". I think they were upset when the other team knocked down their pins and were bent on revenge to get the other team back. It kind of goes to show that it is easier (or more natural man-like) to want to tear down than to build up.

The other lesson I learned was, that in the end what mattered was how many pins the builders still had up. The pins knocked down were not counted. I think that in an analogy, that it is true to life as well.

What matters is who we have built up, not who we have knocked down. Also what matters is what we have built (or made) of ourselves. But the funny thing there is- when we labor to build others up, somehow it makes us into a better person as well.

I want to encourage everyone to challenge themselves to be a "builder". Give others the benefit of the doubt, write positive comments, try to see the "good" in any situation. I think the world needs more people who are happy and see the good that is going on and less who point out all the negatives. Make a goal for yourself about how you will accomplish this and then if you have any experiences you want to share, feel free to do so in a comment or on your day.

Happy building!

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