How many of us would say that we are pretty good at building? Perhaps you have a particular set of skills when it comes to building two-tier bookshelves, Lego skyscrapers, birdhouses or houses made of cards? Or maybe, you see yourself more as Tim the Tool Man from the show, “Home Improvement”, as opposed to Bob Villa when it comes to creating something noteworthy, but there is at least one thing many of us are good at building – walls! One lesson I have learned about walls is that they can keep us from experiencing abundant life, can keep us imprisoned, and only the wall fortified by God will last.
What is a wall and what is its purpose? According to the New Standard Encyclopedia Dictionary, a wall is a continuous structure designed to enclose an area such as a building. It is a barrier constructed for defense, constructed for protection and separation. A wall can also be used as a barrier to noise and to keep people out that do not belong on the property of a certain physical location. Additionally, we tend to construct walls for emotional reasons: to protect our hearts. These emotional walls keep others from getting too close to us because we do not want to be hurt again or rejected in case the real “us” is exposed and consequently not accepted or loved.
Life has taught me that some walls are built for appearance – “I dress up the outside with make-up and a nice outfit because I don’t want you to see my inward brokenness.” Some walls are built with a tough, abrasive exterior – whether it is personality, demeanor or words because “I don’t want you to see my insecurities and how vulnerable I really am.” Some walls are built to help us blend in – “I am not bold, and I do not have the energy to be abrasive every day, so I will blend in, so no one will notice me. The last time I was noticed; I was abused; I was hurt by somebody I loved.” Whatever walls we have chosen as defense mechanisms may have kept us from being harmed or taken advantage of again, in the short term, but our walls also keep us from experiencing true life.
In keeping our walls up vigilantly, we miss out on smiles, hugs, “real conversation”, and true connection. They keep us from experiencing the abundant life that Christ’s death gave His followers. “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10 NKJV) Some of the walls we have erected in our lives are a result of theft from the enemy of our souls. On many occasions we allowed him to kill relationships in our lives and burn bridges or perhaps completely destroy our lives due to bad judgment, decisions we made based on suggestions made by others or our own unstable emotions. The abundant life Christ came to give is freedom to be loved by Him completely and by others without fear; that we embrace being fully known. Christ is the only One who completely knows us and loves us with all our flaws, imperfections and funny ways. In allowing Him to love us, we begin to learn to love ourselves – our moles, freckles, natural hair color, body shapes, etc. Subsequently, we allow those we trust to truly see us and love who we are from the inside-out and not from the outside-in.
Walls can also become our wardens and keep us imprisoned indefinitely. The emotional walls built by the cinder blocks of fear, denial, guilt and shame, perceptions (however wrong they may be), our thought-lives (for what we think is critical to how we behave), and our false sense of security – [we think we are surviving; but we’re “not living, just not dying.” (The Croods - 2013)] – must be dismantled brick by brick and demolished by the sledgehammer of truth found in the pages of the Holy Bible. Galatians 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of bondage." We must choose to not be afraid of toppling the strongholds of crippling thoughts that keep us enslaved and afraid of taking risks to love, to be loved, to fail, and to try again. We must choose to live and not die behind our self-imposed walls.
In closing, only walls fortified by God will last. Physical walls will eventually need to be repaired because of constant use. Exterior walls will need improvement because of the inclement elements outside. In both of these instances, the walls were built by humans which means they were only going to be temporary from the start. By the same token, we can only protect ourselves with the walls we have built for so long because they are coping mechanisms designed to hold us for a while; to tide us over until our clearer thinking kicks in. They were never meant to be permanent solutions. Also, protecting ourselves for any length of time will soon drain us physically and emotionally. Our hearts and our lives must be fortified by God. “Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.” (Psalm 127:1) Without God, trying to build our lives is pointless because we cannot sustain them on our own, though we do try. However, I do personally know the Carpenter who builds people as well as lives if we allow Him. We can safely tear down our walls because He wants to be our Fortress and our Protector.
Time to put on our goggles and wield our sledgehammers!