I really do think words matter. And how we use them can oftentimes hinder or help in the creation of the kind of world and the kind of life we’re striving for.
Take for example the words grow and build. To build something is to put things together in a logical order. if you build a house you have a foundation, walls, supports for the roof, the roof itself, and the covering. Once the walls are up, windows go in, doors are hung, everything is orderly, and it’s done in a linear process.
We’ve gotten so good at building things in this country that we’ve created factories where we mass-produce things on a conveyor belt by engineering the process and simply working the process over time.
While this may be good for houses and widgets, building as a way of thinking about relationships almost always breaks down. For example, trying to build a great marriage is frustrating because people are not things and they don’t stay as they are. They can get better, they can get worse, they can grow, or they can stagnate.
When it comes to relationships, the best way to think about how to build good ones is to grow them. Good soil, cultivation, feeding, nurturing, sunshine, time, weeding out: all of these are the tools of a grower. To grow a great marriage over time takes good soil, sunshine, weeding. It takes attention. There you go! That’s the difference, isn’t it? To grow a thing requires constant attention. To build a thing is to build it and leave it sit. Look at how many cars you see sitting out in front of homes that were built but are now rusting, up on blocks, and long outlived their usefulness.
Beside that same house you’ll see a garden, beautifully planted all in rows, tilled and attended to with love. The very best way for me to grow my marriage is to help my wife grow, to be a good lover to her; which means to serve her and help her to realize her full, God-given potential in every area of her life.
Maybe our problem is we’re trying to build what we should be growing.