What Are Walls?
Walls are meant to separate things: rooms, property, cities, countries. Walls divide. They’re usually meant to protect whatever’s inside of them from whatever’s outside of them.
Think about the Great Wall of China or the Berlin Wall. Huge monuments to keep people in and to keep people out. But do you realize we can build these same types of structures in our heart?
Oh, they may not be built with physical bricks and mortar, but they’re constructed by hurts and wounds that occur throughout our life. This starts from a very early age. For example, when we were five someone may have said our ears were too big. Clunk! — there’s a “brick” put into a foundation. Then later on a schoolmate calls us ugly and fat, or stupid and short. Clunk! — another brick is laid.
Throughout all of our life layers of bricks can be put up, even daily sometimes. And depending on our parents, they, too, could have had a part in building the walls in our hearts.
How Walls Are Built
Why does this happen? Because we want to — no, we have to — protect ourselves from the pain. It hurts too much to live with it, so our natural defense mechanisms become operational and we put up partitions in our hearts in order to keep the pain “outside.” Our hearts, left open, are vulnerable to attack so we surround them with a wall.
And what do some of these walls look like? They can take on a multitude of things — some even appearing righteous. Obvious walls are the silent treatment, violence or physical abuse (“if you say or do that again I will hit you”), and avoidance (working late, walking in the other direction). More subtle ones can be as simple as letting others do all the talking, not yourself, so you never get to really know our heart. It seems like we’re so sweet and such good listeners, but in reality we don’t want to have to share our own thoughts or feelings.
In the church I think serving is a big wall. Like, setting up chairs, helping to prepare for communion, working in the nursery, etc. If we’re too busy doing something, we don’t have time nor opportunity to open our hearts and share. It can be a place to hide (avoidance), yet it looks so pure and righteous. (BTW — in case you were wondering, this is one of my favorite tactics in keeping a wall up.)
Walls Cause Separation
But when we have walls up in our heart, we’re separated. And not just from others, but from God too. How many times in the Psalms did David express his hurt and pain? His heart stayed opened to God. In Ps. 51:10 he even asked God for a clean heart. David wanted nothing between him and God, a true heart-to-heart relationship. And this is what God wants with us.
Unfortunately we cannot be heart-to-heart with anyone if we have walls up, remember, walls separate. So how do we tear down these walls? Sometimes it’s as easy as simply making a choice to do so. Other times, if we’ve been deeply wounded, we may need prayer ministry or some counseling to help dismantle them. But it’s worth it. Do you remember what happened when the Berlin Wall came down? Freedom. The freedom to pass from one side to the other. And this is what occurs when our walls come down too — a freedom to know and be known by God and others for who we really are.
Is there a chance we may still be hurt once we put our walls down? Yes. And we may even build them up again really quick. But as we learn to know the Father’s love and His acceptance, it gets easier and easier to leave them down. We no longer need to protect our heart from pain because we’ve found healing in His love and can live open-hearted with one another and with God.