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What does it take to build a cathedral?

Or to turn your home or business into a piece of art, distinctive and unique, but inviting?

And when wars or flood waters smash and destroy what you have built, how do you take the remains and rebuild?

What does it take to start over? What would be different? What would be the same?

On a trip I took overseas a number of years ago, I went on a river cruise. As we visited towns and cities, guides took us to see spectacular and colossal churches, buildings, and bridges that had either survived or were rebuilt after wars.

Pictures on walls reminded us of the bombs that turned buildings into mounds of rubble.

And then as we walked around these cities and bridges that had been rebuilt – sometimes resembling the original – sometimes with modifications – we could only marvel.

Wars not only destroy buildings, but also lives.

There are times when our lives resemble a war zone, with competition, rivalry, hostilities, and conflicts spinning out of control, leaving us feel like a casualty on a battlefield.

We know that cities and bridges can be rebuilt, but how can our lives be rebuilt? What do we do when our expectations are trashed and the world we thought we would have forever no longer exists?

It’s then we ask,

“How do I begin again? What is the first step I need to take? Can this be an opportunity to build something even better and more durable and rewarding? If so, where do I start?”


The human spirit is incredible. We can accomplish so much more than we ever thought we could. We can recover from the worst tragedy and move on. We are resilient.

Our imaginations can create plans to build the most intricate and beautiful structures and statues and emblems of faith and hope.

Rise up and rebuild

History teaches us that even when such creations are destroyed, people rise up and rebuild. We see the results of that all over Europe. Can we not envision the same for ourselves when our lives have been broken or smashed?

Sorting through the wreckage of a life that has been tattered, torn, and left in shreds, it might seem that there is nothing that can be saved. Tragedies, losses, and huge life upsets are like that. They are never easy to work through.

But what I have found in my own life is that when everything seems to have been turned inside out and upside down, that is when I discover some amazing things:

  • I learn I have more resilience than I ever thought.
  • I learn that my imagination can create new and wonderful ways to do things, even better than before. I can take old dreams and make them come alive.
  • I discover I am more competent than I thought, and confidence begins to grow.
  • I learn to trust in God, accept His wisdom and strength, and turn to others for any help I need.
  • I learn to accept responsibility for myself, my choices, and my actions.

It is where I can really grow.

It is in just such circumstances where I finally became honest and genuine. I have accepted my weaknesses, along with my strengths. It is where I came to realize what is really important and valuable in life.

No matter how many times I read or hear about ways we can improve or recover from a major loss or marriage, I have found it helpful to hear it again – perhaps in a new way – perhaps as a reminder when the going gets tough.

Yes, I can!

Each time I look at the pictures I took during my river cruise in Europe, I am reminded of the grandeur, work, diligence, and determination it took for people who lived during that period of time and earlier. To build anything requires a “Yes I can” attitude and a willingness to try and work to reach our goal.

Now it’s time to apply those same principles to my life.

I can pick up the pieces I need, develop a new design, and make the choices necessary to take the stones of the past and rebuild them into something longer-lasting.

Where to begin

Ask yourself honestly what it is you want to do – to become – to live.

When you have answered that basic question, move on to the next one: What obstacles would I face?

Then ask, “What steps do I need to take to reach my goal?

Knowing what you want isn’t always as simple as it seems. But only you can answer that.

As you reflect and explore, you will discover some old dreams are no longer important, and what you need at this time in life is different than when you first entered the world. In reflection, you can both add and eliminate.

Take the time to explore where you want to go, what you want to do and who you want to become at this time in your life.

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