Roots verse Foundation

What’s the difference between developing roots verse building a foundation?

Last year, at this time I was in Cambodia. I went to see the famous temples of Siem Reap. The area is mind blowingly beautiful — there are more than a dozen ancient temples. Each of them abandoned by civilization and taken over by nature.

My favorite temple to visit was Preah Khan, this temple is located on the edge of a forest and the trees have invaded the temple. There roots had overtaken some of the buildings and the foundation.

Roots over taking the foundation of Preah Khan

This image has been rolling through for a while now, and has finally come to the surface. It is such a clear distinction between a what it means to rely on a foundation verse what it means to grow from your roots.


I grew up in the Midwest, in a land known for it’s foundations. My parents often used the idea that growing up they wanted to give me a foundation that I build on. You practice basketball 2 hours a day and play in all the summer camps, because it’s a building a good foundation. And then you can use that foundation to get a college basketball scholarship.

You need to study hard in middle school, so you can get good grades in highschool. And then you can go to a good college. This will be a great foundation for what you want to do after college.

A foundation is an equation. You mix A+B to equal C. And then C+D=E. Then E+F+G = H. Everything always builds on top of each other. So once you get to H, it will only hold together (as long as A, B, C, D, E, F, and G are still functioning). But if there is a slight problem with A, your house will start to crumble.


Roots are the things that growing up captured you.

For example, do you remember where you were and what you were doing on 9/11? That day became a major root for people individually and our country as a whole. It was a moment in time that greatly impacted our beliefs and our futures.

What other memories/ideals/impacts that have stuck with you and become a part of you?

My family was always talking about generosity. It was the little things, like Grandma passing down dollars to each of her grandchildren to put in the collection basket, to going to the homeless shelter during the holidays to serve food, or always collecting an extra bag of groceries at the store to give way. These things have created a deep root of generosity that informs the ways I grow.

Foundations have cracks

I grew up in a small town in the western part of Michigan. Parents gave their kids what I called the trifecta: the positive influence of church, christian school and a christian home. These three specific things hopefully created a foundation, so they could be good people the rest of their lives.

The problem for me was my foundation quickly got a crack within it. My parents got divorced when I was 16 years old. I know longer fit into the trifecta community I was raised in. I was an outsider, somehow forever incomplete.

With this model, there was nothing I could do to fix my foundation. It was broken. I was stuck with a whole bunch of crumbled pieces knowing they would never be perfect again.

Everyone has a season in their life when their foundation cracks.

Sometimes a crack is from an external earthquake that leaves you in complete ruins. Sometimes a crack is a simple internal paradox, it might look invisible to the outside, but you feel it and you know it’s there.

Cracks show up all the time and disprove the idea that just doing A+B+C+D+E+F will give you the life you want.

Roots Can Change Direction

A root is different. It is connected to you and your growth. Roots are dynamic, they morph and change with you. A crack doesn’t stop or hinder you. It becomes a piece of who you are and what you are becoming.