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The Pisa tower leans because it was built on unstable soil with an inadequate foundation.
Obviously, the builders thought it was fine or else I don’t think they wouldn’t have invested so much time, effort, and money into a project doomed from the beginning. Five years into the construction and three stories up, the tower began to sink. In a twist of fate, regional wars for the century interrupted the construction and allowed the soil to settle a bit. Construction resumed.
In order to compensate for the tilt, they started building one side of each level taller than the other – until the tower actually curved back the other direction. In the centuries since the tower was completed in 1319, numerous attempts have been made to stabilize the structure including adding lead counterweights, removing the heavy bells from the top of the tower, and finally removing soil from under the tall side. And, I discovered, it’s not the only leaning building in Pisa. The soil has affected other buildings in the city (just not as famously).
So what does the leaning (sinking) tower have to do with me?
Consider what I’m building. A strong marriage and family. Character in the lives of my kids … and myself. A writing business. A healthy lifestyle. Each of these requires a solid, firm, deep foundation that will not slip, slide … or sink. I’ve found only one foundation that stable and have chosen to build my life on the Word of God.
But, I also have the unfortunate habit of adding inferior materials to the foundation. And not always on purpose. I hear the cultural messages broadcast in movies, books, music, television, billboards, and newspaper headlines. Before I know it, some have sunk in and flawed my thinking. Add a poor-self image, teasing/taunting voices from the past, failures, disappointments, exhaustion, economic issues, disease, stress, etc. and my foundation shifts.
The changes are so small at first that I can hardly see them. But if I continue to build on a flawed foundation, sooner or later, my building is out-of-whack and tilted. So I try to straighten it out by adding a little more time, effort, prayer, and energy. I compensate by piling on weight in a different area. I tilt my head and lie to myself, saying “It’s not that bad.” Meanwhile, what I’m building gets further and further from true vertical and the unstable foundation affects other buildings nearby.
So, what can I do? The only real fix to a flawed foundation is to drill down deep into the unshakable bedrock. Or, like at Pisa, focus on fixing the problem under the surface (removing dirt) rather than cosmetic changes. Getting back to the basics of faith and lining my life up by God’s standards rather than my own. It’s not easy, but the result will stabilize my foundation and keep my building from toppling.
What about you? What foundation are you building on? Have you ever found yourself starting to lean? Did you try to fix it at the top or go back to the foundation?