No More Walls
Walls. Some are thick, others are thin, tall, short, stone, brick, wood, plaster. They are used to protect. To keep something out or to keep something in. Most times they are constructed so that others can’t see what’s behind them. Certainly they can be useful. I’ve used them well to protect myself from others’ brokenness or to protect them from mine. The walls we erect to protect our hearts are amazingly complex creations and sometimes extremely useful, but they almost always isolate us in our brokenness behind them.
God has been faithfully removing my walls for years now, stone by stone, mostly, but sometimes He has exploded them. My heart has been a labyrinth of walls, a maze of cold stones that I built to protect myself. I don’t blame myself for that. It was needed when I was a child. It felt I had no safe place growing up, no one who I could trust with my broken heart. Woundedness is like that, especially deep, bleeding wounds. Why do we tend to hide them instead of running for help? Maybe because when we got our first wounds they were overlooked, or ignored, or another wound was added. So we hide behind walls and bleed to death slowly.
But light loves to penetrate darkness. It has a way of seeping through the cracks in our walls and begins breaking through.
I was talking to a trusted mother in Christ about thoughts I was struggling with recently. For the first time in my life, a mom figure looked me in the eyes and said, “We need to have a girl talk.” I am in my late 40s and I don’t ever remember having a girl talk with a mom figure. She leaned in, with no flinching and shared with me her struggles, in her own thought life that had matched mine. She offered me a great gift of communion with my suffering. She sat with me in my shame, and offered me a piece of Jesus’s broken body. That stronghold in my mind came crashing down.
Sometimes we don’t need great advice or Bible thumping. Sometimes we just desperately need to be known behind the wall, and have someone offer us the loving communion of being there, of letting us in behind their walls. Isn’t this what Jesus did? Touched the untouchables. He restored limbs and fingers eaten away by disease, restored the untouchable outcast to humanity to community, to family. He walked right through walls offering His wounded hands and side to a doubting Thomas. ”Press into my woundedness, doubting one and be healed.” But Jesus won’t come uninvited. When He knocks on the door in the wall, we have to let Him in.
I once led a women’s Bible study at my home. It was during a very hard time of pulling walls down in my journey. I found myself being very raw with these ladies in an effort to stay sane. They would often nod their heads in acknowledgement, but just listen to my pain. Then one day after months of this, in desperation, I asked, “Doesn’t anyone else struggle with bad thoughts or feelings like these?”. Then the eldest and youngest of the group spoke up acknowledging that they indeed did. But why had they left me struggling in my thoughts for these months without a word?
Maybe we are afraid that in speaking of our weakness, we will somehow become weaker. But what I keep finding is when I am weak, He is strong. When I let trusted others behind my walls, the walls themselves begin to crumble. Even that requires risk, because all of us come with some broken places. All of us have the ability to cut each other. But how long is it going to take for me not to be afraid of being cut? Isn’t the fear of being broken or of breaking others what has a kept me the prisoner behind these walls anyway? At first we may feel protected by them but, in the end, walls around our hearts imprison us.
Now I am not talking about wallowing together in negativity. The purpose is never to get comfortable together in the pig stye, but to offer a hand to lead to the house of the Father. To make a sacrifice of praise, embracing the cross together.
Maybe, just maybe it’s time to begin letting some light in those cracks. Maybe it’s time to step from behind the walls and take a fresh breath of God’s breath. Breath in and out communion with Him, then maybe even with some trusted other broken ones. Maybe it’s time to let Jesus press His wounds into ours and be healed. Maybe it’s ok to let others see our wounded places, and it’s ok to see theirs.
It’s scary. I know. Believe me. I know. I’ve been cut deeply before and had to hide the wounds in order to survive. Sometimes it feels like a kind of death, death to my pride, to my survival mechanisms. But when will I finally lay down the fear, let the walls be demolished and walk free…