“John Adams was a farmer, Abraham Lincoln was a small town lawyer. Plato and Socrates were teachers. Jesus was a Carpenter. To equate wisdom and judgement with occupation is at best insulting.” ~Mark Sheppard
This article was inspired by Daniel Levin and his book, The Mosaic. It’s available on Amazon and in bookstores across the country.
I am the carpenter. I help people build things.
It’s always the same… People invariably want to start with telling me about how they want to do this and do that, how they want a space for this and that, a room for this, a room for that. They tell me about the doors they love, what kind of windows they want, the cabinets and countertops, colors, textures, lighting, fixtures, stair rails, roof lines, and on and on the list goes…
And when I ask them what kind of foundation they want to build under the house, I almost always get the same look. And when I tell them that we must first begin with the foundation, they repeatedly tell me they aren’t interested in the foundation, that’s the job of the engineer they say. It’s the engineer’s job to design the foundation, not mine…
Then I ask them a revealing question. What if the engineer’s vision of “their” foundation doesn’t align with the way they want to live or the type of house they hope to build, what then?
Typically, after a long period of uncomfortable silence, I usually invite them to sit down across from me on my other sawhorse so we can talk about what’s important to them. Begrudgingly, they usually oblige, even if only to feign interest in what I hope to share with them. I explain to them that I am the carpenter and that I help people to build things…
Recently, I found myself in the living room of one of the most beautiful homes I had ever been in. Well, I should say it was one of the most beautiful homes. Before the home fell from the sky, everything had seemed perfect, not only to the outside world, but also to the husband and wife who had built it. By all outwardly appearances, everything was perfect. However, when the mansion fell from the sky and tumbled back to earth, it crashed hard upon impact and as we stood in the wreckage of the past, I simply asked the owners if they were ready to build their foundation now?
They looked at each other, looked back at me, embraced in a warm hug that looked very foreign to them, and then I invited them to sit down on the sawhorse across from me and I said to them, I am the carpenter, I help people build foundations that will last a lifetime… If you are ready, I am here to help you. They looked into each other’s eyes and then looked back at me and they said:
WE are ready.
I replied very well, for I am the carpenter and I help people build things.
I helped the couple get started with some empowering questions to ground them in the process and told them I would return in the morning so we could decide what kind of foundation they would like to build…
As we sat down together the next morning, I explained how in the early days of my apprenticeship, in the learning of my craft, my teacher explained the importance of cornerstones to me. I then said to them, with your permission, I would love to share them with you now, is that OK? They replied yes and said thank you.
The four cornerstones of your foundation will be what supports not only your home, but the life you hope to create within it. Grounded on this solid foundation, your relationship will have the best chance of weathering any storm that comes your way. Do you understand? I asked. Yes, they replied as they looked into each other’s eyes with a newfound understanding of what had been missing when they built their first Castle in the Sky.
When I left last night, I asked you to consider what might be important to you in the creation of a foundation that would last a lifetime. Did you do the work I asked of you last night? I asked. Yes, they replied we have come up with our four cornerstones. Would you like to share them with me now? I asked. Yes, they replied. We are ready.
We decided on the following they said: Faith, Trust, Family, and Love.
I believe you have chosen well, I replied. Would you care to share with me how you came do the decision for the cornerstones of your future life together? They each took turns describing what they’d come up with. The husband encouraged his wife to go first, and she spoke about faith. She said, as we discussed this together, we realized that if we had simply the faith of a mustard seed as one of the cornerstones for our home, that it would stand forever. Wonderful I replied.
The husband spoke next. We decided based upon our earlier experiences that we would have nothing if we didn’t have each other’s trust, so we decided trust would be the second cornerstone.
The woman spoke next. She said, we concluded that if we put family at the center of everything we decided to do, it would guide us in the process of creating harmony in our lives and that we could build our lives around the family we chose to create. We knew that with family at the center, all the distractions of the world could be put into their proper order and attended to in their appropriate times and with the attention they deserved but only after we made sure the sacred unit of our family was pure and protected as best we possibly could, by making time for it.
Finally, the husband looked into the eyes of his wife and he said, I love you. I’ve loved you from the first moment I laid eyes on you. I knew the first time I saw you that not only were you beautiful on the outside but more importantly, you are beautiful on the inside. In the past, I think I focused more on the outside and I’m now ready to get to know you in a much deeper way on the inside. I also believe I know who our children are, but I don’t know that I really know them… I believe that with this understanding of what love really is, our house will stand forever.
As I let the moment breathe and as I watched the two of them look at each other like I’m sure they hadn’t in such a long time, I knew that a foundation had been created that would allow them to design the blueprint for the rest of their lives. With that understood, we moved to the next phase of the project.
As I had done the night before, I left them with some homework and told them I would return again in the morning. I told them; I am the Carpenter. I help people build things. I reminded them that sometimes in order to build, we must also tear down. I invited them as they discussed their homework for the evening, as they designed the details of their home, that they tear down any walls that may have stood before them in the past and asked them to consider erecting walls only where they served a purpose. I asked them to consider leaving spaces open so the family could gather together in love. I asked them to have faith in their creator to help them craft the details of their blueprint. I asked them to trust themselves and the process. I left them with the words of a poet and explained that the majority of what we needed to understand about life could be found in the four simple words he left behind for us. These were the words.
“Be curious. not judgmental.” ~Walt Whitman
I leave you now to do the work you have agreed to do. I will return tomorrow, and we will continue our work together…
I am the carpenter. I help people build things…
(To be continued… Literally… Tomorrow…)
By the way, if you enjoyed this article, I believe you will thoroughly enjoy my next book, Advance Confidently. I look forward to sharing it with you on the 4th of July.
Keep Pedaling, Keep Going, Keep Growing!
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Bobby Kountz, Author, Speaker, Sobriety Scholar, Inspirationalist!
Author’s Note: Day 29 of my Spring into 2021 writing challenge.