“I have been staying here since 1987 and had established my home here investing every cent… I have lost virtually everything from my property to my livestock, which includes goats and chickens.”
Sunday News, 23 February 2014
For many weeks now we have seen heart-breaking images of the effects of the flooding that has hit many parts of rural Zimbabwe. Today, if you could take a look through the villages lining the Gwayi River (many of which are inaccessible), you probably would not believe that that was where people built their houses, planted gardens and raised their children. Twelve days of heavy rain led to flooding that affected thousands of villagers, in less than 2 weeks all that they had built, collected and invested in was lost.
Many areas experienced heavy rains but not all of them flooded. Even amongst the villages that were flooded, not all of them had their homes flattened. Why is that? In Tsholotsho the answers lies in 3 factors that made specific areas vulnerable to destruction when the storms came: the slope of the land; the type of soil; and the quality of the houses that were built.
In the flatlands, when the nearby dam spilled over the water collected there in the absence of a slope to flow down. In certain types of soil the drainage was poor, making it a target area for floods and probably the worst place you could choose to build a house. Strikingly, in communities where homes were destroyed those people are “known for not building strong houses.”
Those factors tell us one thing: the destruction that was caused by the floods could have been avoided. Having been put in the position of those people, you would have made very different decisions about where to settle. Or at the very least, you would have been at pains to build your house to last.
The same is true of our lives. I know that Oprah says that she “wouldn’t take nothing” from her life, the pain and all, but I have to be honest and say that I have had a lot of experiences, made many mistakes and committed wrongs that I wish I could take back.
Every day you are making choices that you think are insignificant; but when each is strung together, they make up your life. And when you look back, you will either look back victoriously or regretfully.
One of the most important decisions that you will ever make is who to marry. Most of you reading this have a desire to be married and if you look at the numbers, most of you will.
And yet statistics also say that half you will be divorced after an average of 7 years of marriage. The majority of people do not get hitched expecting a divorce and yet 1 in 2 marriages fail. Why is that?
Like we did with the areas that flooded, it is possible to the factors existing in a relationship to explain why people get divorced. But we will leave that to the social scientists. Here is a question that you can apply to your romantic relationship(s) today: Are you building it to last?
Let’s go back to the house building example. Say you were tired of paying rent every month and were looking to build yourself a house. What is the first thing that you would do? Unless you were an expert, it would be stupid of you to go out and start putting it up yourself.
Logically, you would consult a builder, someone who has the skills and the knowledge necessary to build you a good house. And you would probably ask him lots of questions like: How much will it cost? How long will it take? Where should I build?
Sadly, in the area of romantic relationships, we have a lot of misplaced confidence in our own ability to make wise choices. We go to such efforts to protect and steward our material assets and yet are so careless with our most valuable and irreplaceable of treasures, our hearts. We are giving our love, our bodies our hearts, investing in things that will not last, like the villagers of Tsholotsho:
“But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards. ” Matthew 7: 26-27
Some reports state that had the villagers heeded the flood warnings from concerned authorities, lives would have been saved and property would have been spared.
Take this as both a warning and encouragement: build your romantic relationship to last so that, when it is tested, it will not collapse.
Take an honest look at your current relationship, is it build to last?
In my next post I will be looking at this topic in more detail, so make sure to subscribe to the blog!