Why do you think it might be that we can be zipping right along in life feeling as if we couldn’t get any closer to the Spirit without going Home and then . . . . wham! A nasty brick wall rises up in front of us, seemingly out of nowhere. We hit that thing so hard that we aren’t certain we’ll ever get up. Our heads spin and we can feel blood seeping from an open wound or two. We hear one side of our brain screaming, “Get up, we need some help!” and the other part is shouting just as loudly “Stay down. Nurse those wounds alone.” And you find yourself in the middle of mind commotion that is all too familiar.
Why is it “all too familiar”? Because that nasty brick wall did not come from nowhere. If we’re honest—willing to look closely, willing to really gaze upon the thing–I’m betting we’ll find that that wall was carefully crafted by our own heart. Constructed one brick at a time in all manner of circumstances, with all kinds of reactions and emotions.
No matter how early in life we accepted Christ we still had time to build that wall and it’s possible that the construction continued well into our faith walk. I know for myself, I carried my wall building patterns right into my life as a Christian and it took years to tear down those barriers. Even now, after 17 years of full out acceptance of the Truth, I still find my heart tempted to reach for a brick when I feel hurt and vulnerable.
Think about it for a moment. Where does that brick wall spring from? Fear of rejection? Fear of exclusion? Fear of loneliness? Fear of ____________? Where might the building process have begun?
Maybe these ugly threats lived in your home. Home should be where unconditional love thrives in every circumstance but maybe instead, you found that acceptance and tenderness were very conditional. Withdrawn at the smallest infraction; restored when some measure of favor returned. And you left that home of unpredictable affection with your bricks in place, only to find that the world was no different.
Perhaps you experienced these things in your school days. Left out, left behind, disregarded . . . yet, you had some notion that when you left that environment those challenges would fall by the wayside. Only to enter into adulthood and find that kids aren’t the only ones who are thoughtless and unkind. And with certainty you reinforce each row in your growing barricade.
So we walled ourselves in and walled others out—sometimes purposefully and other times reactively. One brick at a time – no one can hurt us because no one can get near us. And we used the slights, hurts, and fears of this world as mortar to hold our wall together and convince ourselves that the pain of self-imposed isolation was far preferable to the pain on the other side. Self-protection is a powerful motivator.
It might be, as much as it pains me to write it, that you have encountered these same unloving circumstances inside the Church. The one place you were certain would be your safe haven was not. The place was filled with imperfect people who acted from their imperfection. They slighted you. They excluded you. They hurt you. They gave you reason to keep those walls you so carefully fashioned standing tall.
And although the preceding words were painful, the ones that follow sear my heart more deeply than any other I will write in this post: I might have been the one. I might have been the one to make you feel excluded. I might have been the one to slight you and leave you behind. I might have been the one who made you feel less-than and unworthy. The one who placed the brick in your hand and pushed you to build your fortress even higher.
I know without a doubt there were times when my actions told my child that she did not deserve my affection. I am certain that I hurt others on many occasions by acting as if they didn’t belong. And I know that the imperfect actions of this imperfect woman kept the Church from being the safe Haven Christ died to make it. I wish those statements weren’t accurate, but they are. And Beloved, please don’t be offended, but might it be that you have been a brick provider on an occasion or two as well?
The truth of it is, no matter whom you encounter or where, you can be certain that they have been busy with their own bricks. They have diligently constructed their walls based on their own experiences and the imperfect actions of imperfect people have made their structures strong. So when you do life together, no matter where it is, the place is crowded. You, them, and everyone’s collective bricks all fighting for the same space.
The irony of it is that we want to be together. We want to do life side-by-side. The walls we have created are not supposed to be there. I say that so confidently because it’s the way God designed us. We were meant to be in fellowship with one another.
He intended that my desire to follow Him would lead to my refining and I would be the deliverer of fewer and fewer bricks–I will sin less and less if I am abiding in Him. He desires for you to leave your fear behind, step out and follow Him. He wants us to stop relying on our walls to protect us and to begin depending on His heart.
I constructed the walls of separation—not God.
I have put every brick in place—not God.
But here’s the beautiful thing, I am not clever enough, smart enough or strong enough to build a wall that will stand in the face of LOVE. Girlfriend, neither are you. God Himself has declared our freedom from fear –His Perfect Love Drives It Out. God Himself has opened the Door –step out and follow Love. Sweet One, you ask your Savior to set you free, you believe that He will make the way, and then you lace up your demolition boots and pull your hard hat down tight – because the walls are about to fall!