Building Castles

Mrs. Jo sat smiling over her book as she built castles in the air, just as she used to do when a girl, only then they were for herself, and now they were for other people, which is the reason perhaps that some of them came to pass in reality–for charity is an excellent foundation to build anything upon. (Little Men)

On Sunday, we heard words about finishing well. Not starting off well. Or being perfect in the process.  But living with the end in mind. What a rare thing to discuss, as most of us live in the here and now, too busy to think to the end when we can barely think past dinner. “Can you get Middles and I’ll take Littles?  Bigs needs to go here, and I need to go there. Divide and conquer, go, go, GO!”

I think about building a lot, mostly because my home’s contents are made up of 92% Legos. Someone is always building something.  It’s either being built, being broken, being rebuilt or re-rebuilt. Again and again. Building and rebuilding. Breaking. Strengthening. Two steps forward, one step back. There’s pride in the building. And tears. Pain (step on one and you are never the same) and joy.

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We’re really all in a creation process, aren’t we? One brick here, another brick there. Take one down. Put two up. Repair that wound. Fortify. Major progress. Plateau. Play a little. Repeat.

I think of my mothering in the same way.  These castles start off small.  I’m investing in them every day.  But in our day-to-day life, it’s easy to get focused on adding one brick at a time, willy nilly. No plan, no problem.  What’s closest to me?  What fits easily? Hastily throw a few things together to make something that resembles a building. Each day is filled with excuses to build brick by random brick. Too busy. Too tired. Too much. Too little.

But taking a step back reveals the sloppiness.  If I want a castle, I’ve got to dream and plan and pray and contemplate just how I might finish this well.  I have to keep the vision of my castles before me, overlapping our everyday life like vellum over a photograph.  I’ve got to name what I hope our boys to be (Men after God’s own Heart). Followers of Jesus. Obedient servants. Men who love God and love others.

Each and every moment I have with them goes into the building of these masterpieces. My voice either tears it down or builds it up. My example either fortifies or weakens. My priorities either shape the castle into something beautiful or something ordinary. I can’t just throw this mothering thing together without a plan. Doing so would just create a shoddy version of what it could and should be. If I’m left to my own plan, I will create average.  And that’s not to diminish my efforts or my intelligence or my attitude.  I believe I cannot do this building thing without God.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. . . . so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.  You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace.” Isaiah 55: 8-9, 11-12

I realize that the end result will probably look different from how I envision it. I do hope whomever my boys grow up to be, that they still maintain certain characteristics from the original plan. I hope and pray they follow Jesus. I pray they will follow the path to which they are called, rather than the one the world demands of them. I expect a phone call or two when I am old.  I’d like to see them hang up a coat or close a refrigerator door when they are adults.  I hope for their sake they can make it through a meal without spilling a drink. Or three. Mostly simple things, really. But for now, I will build with the end in mind so that we finish well. I’m building castles every day here, and one day, one day, I will see the results. I’m putting my faith in the One who designs it all.

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