What Walls Are You Hiding Behind?
- 2010 23 Sep
There are no constraints on the human mind, no walls around the human spirit, no barriers to our progress except those we ourselves erect.
— Ronald Reagan
We seem to have become a more public society in a very private way. We have placed ourselves and our identities out into social networks, yet we conceal ourselves with user and screen names, firewalls and private barriers.
This age of technology has emboldened us to speak out in ways we would never consider face-to-face, through e-mails and blog sites, yet hide our true emotions behind the walls we have built around who we truly are.
I spent a majority of my educational life learning how to construct walls. I studied the materials to use for specific situations, differing loads each can handle and the dynamics that external forces could cause.
In my career, I have designed and built walls in residential, commercial and industrial buildings all over the country. However, over the past few years I have spent more time concentrating on breaking walls down rather than building them up.
Archaeologists and historians have found walls dating back thousands of years that are still standing in the same position they were built, mostly for self-preservation and the defense of property. Here's how Globalsecurity.org explains the protective measures and "walls" built around the Green Zone, the common name of a 10-square-kilometer area in Central Baghdad, which is the center of the Coalition Provisional Authority:
The Green Zone is defended with coils of razor wire, chain-link fences, earthen berms and armed checkpoints. The area is defended by M1 Abrams tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles and HUMVEEs with .50 caliber machine guns on top. The Green Zone appears under siege, with barriers, high concrete walls and checkpoints. US officials are rarely visible outside it and rules for British personnel bar them from leaving it unless accompanied by four bodyguards and an armored vehicle.
Clearly, anyone near the Green Zone can see the defensive measures put in place for protection of property and personnel; however, many of us have built similar and oftentimes impenetrable walls and defenses around ourselves, which can't be readily seen, nor easily dismantled. They can be an innate introverted personality or a perimeter fence of shyness, self-destructive measures to combat fear or a fortified impassable barrier around our hearts from years of emotional scarring.
Many of us have lived with these protective measures in place for so long we have become accustomed to and comfortable residing behind them. They have become part of our life and who we are, and then we question why we can't get closer to people or experience a fuller, more joyful life.
These types of barriers are rarely constructed over night, but rather built over time. With each disappointment we go through, wrong done against us, and regret we carry with us, another stone is placed in our wall. Over time we don't even notice how high or fortified our walls have become.
When a breach in our defenses occurs or an area of vulnerability is discovered, we reconstruct our walls taller and stronger to ensure our safety from future "attacks."
I am not immune to the "emotional" wall-building industry, very few are. I have constructed some sturdy yet hidden walls to protect myself from being hurt. I have questioned, "How did I allow myself to get hurt again?" I tell myself, "I won't let that happen again." My solution—I close myself in and don't allow those feelings to be exposed. I place another couple of courses of brick in place, I don't make myself as vulnerable, and I quit taking risks.
However, over time (and many lonely days and nights), I have learned hurt and pain comes with living and the key to wall demolition is accepting that disappointments will happen, branching out of my comfort (or Green) zone into uncomfortable situations, praying for and forgiving those who hurt me, and seeking God's greater purpose behind those hurts (becoming closer to him, growing as a person, learning how to be more Christlike, learning to accept others, discovering a person or type of person isn't right for me, having proper expectations, etc.).
When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly (1 Corinthians 4:12-13).
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (Ephesians 4:32).
Growing as a follower of Christ is not reacting like the world reacts to situations—with anger, vindication, and vengeance. It means living like Jesus lived—with compassion, grace, love, hope, forgiveness and concern for others. It also means learning from the pain you experience to grow, in yourself and closer to him.
I discovered if I stop "living" (and putting myself out), I may be able to reduce the hurt I encounter; however I will not live a life worthy of my calling as a Christian. I will not experience the life God has called me to live. (Ephesians 4:1)
Jesus taught this lesson in the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30. The landowner gave a number of talents to three of his servants. Two of the servants doubled the amount of talents they were given by putting the money to work, while one buried and hid the talent he was entrusted to. When the landowner returned he admonished the "lazy" servant who did nothing.
For whatever reason you find yourself hiding behind your wall—fear, past disappointment, insecurity, etc—begin the process of tearing down those walls by asking God to help you to forgive yourself, forgive others for what they may have done to you, remove the load you have been carrying, give you strength and fortitude to step out into new situations, and live a life worthy of the calling you were given.
We are all imperfect and fallible. Life is too short to hide behind our walls, carry undue burdens, harbor ill feelings toward others or not utilize the gifts and talents we were given.
The walls we have constructed to "keep people out" are the same walls that "keep us in."
Begin your journey of experiencing God's best for your life today by living it outside of your walls, outside of the constraints you have put on yourself and outside where others can experience the true beauty God has created in you.
Cliff Young is a contributing writer to Sandlot Stories (ARose Books), as well as the monthly column, "He Said-She Said," in Crosswalk.com's Singles Channel. An architect and former youth worker, he now works with Christian musicians and consults for a number of Christian ministries. Got feedback? Send your comments and questions to CYdmg@yahoo.com.
**This article first published on September 23, 2010.