I was at my granddaughter’s house the other day, and she grabbed me by the hand and took me back to her room. There, among all the toys, was a big bucket of wooden blocks just waiting for us.
Being the adult, I started to carefully select blocks and set them up very methodically and symmetrically. My Granddaughter, on the other hand, was so excited to be playing blocks with her grandfather that she was quickly grabbing blocks and putting them down wherever they would stand up.
That working arrangement was ok, until she decided she needed to help me with my design. She took some of the blocks I had carefully positioned and moved them to different spots. She took some of my block to use in something she was building. And she occasionally knocked down what I was building, leaving me to build something new.
At first, this was frustrating. (I know this admission will probably cause me to forfeit my “Grandfather of the Year” award.) But after a few minutes, I was able to reign in my inner design diva and remember what this time was all about. It wasn’t about building a structure with blocks. It was about building a relationship with my granddaughter. (Duh!)
So I relaxed. I was more carefree with my building. I stopped trying to get my project perfect and just enjoyed the process. When she robbed my blocks, I changed my plan. When she knocked my project down, I laughed with her and rebuilt. My building experience became much more enjoyable.
Life is a lot like playing with blocks. We set out to carefully and methodically choose the right blocks and set them in the right places. We seek to build them in a broad, stable pattern that will allow us to build them higher and higher. We get overly focused on the blocks with which we’re building and forget the real reason we’re building. We forget that what we’re building is not as important as those who are building with us.
Life takes some of our pieces or knocks down what we’re building and we’re frustrated, hurt, and angry. We want to give up. We want to work harder to get the pieces we want and protect what we’re building. We begin to focus more on the project in front of us than the people around us.
Then we start skipping date nights with our spouse to get projects done at work. We forego playing with the kids in order to finish up chores. We get angry with our spouse or the kids when they interrupt our plans for the evening. We push for results more than we push for relationships.
If you find yourself in a place where what you’re building has become more important than those building with you, here are some things you need to do…
- See the bigger picture. – One of the things that helped me break free from my block obsession was to actually take my eyes off what I was building and look at what was going on around me. When I did, I saw the excitement on my granddaughter’s face. I saw a room full of fun toys. I saw a room meant to be safe and inviting. I saw a place to hang out and laugh…not a place to get something done. Breaking my tunnel vision on the “blocks” helped me to see a bigger, more important picture. It will help you to.
- Ask the bigger questions. – I had to ask myself, “Do I want my granddaughter to remember how much fun I had playing with her, or how much frustration I had when the blocks didn’t go as I wanted them to?” Ask yourself questions like: “How do I want to remember this moment years from now?” “How do I want the people in my life to remember this moment?” “Will the thing that seems so important to me now be that important at the end of my life?” “If my adult children were making the same choices I’m making, would I be happy about it?” These bigger questions can lead you to better building.
- Choose the bigger pay-off. – Finally, after asking the bigger questions, you must then choose the thing that will give you the bigger, long term payoff. Choose the thing for which you most want to be remembered. Choose the thing that will give you the most joyful memories and the least heartaches. For me, it was choosing to focus more on what I was building with my granddaughter, than what I was building with the blocks. What will it be for you?
I started this post by asking the question, “When’s the last time you played with blocks?” That this was a trick question. If you’re alive, you’re constantly playing with “blocks.” You’re constantly choosing which “blocks” to choose and where to place them. It’s a constant game of determining if the “blocks” you’re playing with are the most important “blocks” in the most important places.
Take those 3 steps, have fun, and build well.
To put this on another level…
Scripture reminds us that we’re in a process of building and warns us to be careful about what blocks we’re using…
For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ. Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. (1 Cor. 3:11-14 NLT)
But Scripture also reminds us not to get so focused on our building blocks that we forget the One with whom we’re building. The Master Builder…
Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. (Ps. 127:1a NLT)
Our expertise is useless apart from God, the Master Builder. There may be times when God rearranges or takes some of our “blocks.” He may even knock down what we’re building and give us a different plan. May we not be so obsessed about what we’re building that we forget the joy of being with Him. And may we not forget that His most important building project is us.
What are some of the blocks you’re focusing on in building your life? Are they blocks that will last? Are they being rearranged or taken? Are they being knocked down? How will you respond?
Copyright © 2015 Bret Legg