Breaking stuff is easy – really easy.
I must have been in third or fourth grade when I broke a small wooden box I had made in school. It was nothing fancy, but it was fragile. It was meant to be a gift for my mom. It was small enough to fit in the palm of her hand, but big enough I thought, to hold her rings and necklaces.
“Handle it with care,” my teacher said as we left that afternoon. Moments later, it was in pieces – far from its original design. Running to the bus, it slipped out of my hands and hit the concrete. It splintered into countless pieces. I’m pretty sure a few unholy words rolled out of my mouth as well. What took me months to build was broken in less than a minute.
Breaking stuff is easy– too easy, isn’t it? Whether it’s wooden boxes, glasses, windows, vases, or toys, we all know it takes far less time to break than to build.
The work of rebuilding can be even harder.
I love the story of Nehemiah. He was not dealing with broken glass or wooden boxes, but rather broken walls that once stood strong surrounding Jerusalem. Putting walls back together is one thing; putting people back together is quite another. If you have read the story of Nehemiah in the Old Testament, then you know the real task was not just rebuilding the walls it was rebuilding God’s people.
Their sin had brought disaster and disgrace. The walls were just the physical, visible, and tangible symbols of their hearts. The real work needed to happen inside, not just outside. And so what does Nehemiah do when he gets the news that God’s people were in trouble? How does he respond when the news comes that Jerusalem’s walls were broken down and its gates burned with fire?
In four short verses (Nehemiah 1:3-6), Nehemiah says “I” five times.
“I have heard or understood these things…”
“I sat down and wept…”
“I mourned and fasted and prayed…”
“Then I said…”
Nehemiah’s response gives us this simple truth that rebuilding starts with taking personal responsibility.
Rebuilding starts with “I” before ‘”you.”
This is true when rebuilding walls, but’s it’s also true in broken relationships – especially marriage. It’s true where a relationship has splintered, pieces have been shattered, intimacy severed, silence leveraged, and bitterness sown.
The work of rebuilding starts with “I.”
Instead of here is what “you” have done…
Here is where “I” have sinned.
Here is where “I” have fallen short.
Here is where “I” was wrong.
Here is where “I” have hurt you.
Here is where “I” need to change.
Here is where “I” need your forgiveness.
What’s broken or cracked in your marriage right now? Where is the wall beginning to lean or buckle a bit? How different would your marriage be if you led with “I’ before “you?”
With God’s help, the wall was rebuilt. In fact, in just 52 days (Nehemiah 6:15) the pieces were put back together again. God is in the business of rebuilding – especially rebuilding marriages.
Through Christ, God wants to help you rebuild what’s broken in your marriage. He wants to put right what has gone wrong.
Will you take the first step? Will you start rebuilding by saying “I” before “you?”