I’ve spent most of my life building walls. I was very proud of my walls. They were high, thick, impenetrable. They scaled the entirety of my world, and I lived blissfully within my walls. No one in, no one out. My walls had no gate. No door. No latter. My walls sent a message that was loud and clear. “None are welcome”. I spent YEARS in this place. The more time I spent there, the more I was able to adapt to a life with walls. I got really good at faking connection. I was able to maintain relationships within my life from a distance. Most weren’t the wiser, save for a few special people who were like me and able to see that I was hiding something. But life was good. The world at a distance, and me happy and safe within my fortress of solitude and ignorance.
There were a few times I thought maybe it was time to let someone in. When I was young I gained a best friend named Josh. He was a bit older than me, and looked out for me. We stayed friends through all of my teen years. At times he was the only positive influence I had in my life. He would see me in situations and call me out of it and remind me “you’re worth more than that.” I distinctly remember thinking “Really? I am?”. Thats the thing about relationships. People have a God-given authority to call things into existence. We do it all the time. Every time we say to a child “You’re just a spoiled brat” or “you’re just like your father”. Or when we tell ourselves that we will never be better than we are right now. When we tell someone that they are worthless. Look at the outcome of situations like that. We call things into being. Our words have more than just meaning. They have power. There’s a scene in the movie ” The Help” where the parents ignore, abuse, and neglect their children. They don’t feel loved. They are told awful things about themselves. The believed they were of no value to their family. But this older black woman who worked in the home would come behind the devastation left from the parents and she would hold them close and tell them “You is kind, you is smart, you is important.” If you saw the movie, this scene probably stuck out to you. Why do you think that is? Maybe because most of us have holes in us. Holes that need to be filled with empowering words. We are all searching for our identity. We try to define it ourselves. We look to the world to define it. But we have been defined all along. We are looking in the wrong places.
A lot of people called things into existence in my life. Not all of them were good, but some were. During my mid-teens, I played in a band. We became very close. I considered them my best friends. Over time I began trying to let them in. I trusted them, loved them, even cared about them. They were like brothers (one of them actually was). During my later teens, I faced many hard situations. I was betrayed by many of the people I thought cared about me. When I was 19 my best friend Josh died unexpectedly. I thought I would never recover, but I did…somewhat.
My early 20’s were filled with many ups and downs, but one thing I knew for sure was that these walls were never coming down again. No one in. No one out. But then I was invited into a community. It was the type of community where I thought I could open up, maybe get healing, and rest a while. The problem was I brought some of my old baggage with me. Things I wasn’t ready to let go of yet. Little by little, things began to unravel, until eventually it all came crashing down. In the aftermath, I found out who really cared about me, and who didn’t. I’ll be honest, I was really surprised who wasn’t there in the end. But that’s how the chips fall sometimes I guess. When it all happened, I had someone in my life. Someone who I thought loved me and cared about me. Looking back, I’m grateful she was there. She served a purpose, none the less. Even if it was just to keep me from falling into the pit of despair, loneliness, and depression. But even she turned out to be a lie. My walls were beginning to come back up. I was ready to run. I wanted to leave so badly I could taste it. I began devising plans. Ways I could get out of town for an unknown amount of time. I wanted to go to a place where no one knew my name. I wanted to find rest from the constant aching that plagued my bones. I could no longer take what I had endured for so very long.
I didn’t go anywhere. I never left. I stayed. I couldn’t go anywhere. God didn’t want me to go anywhere. I had to face everything. I was laid open like a gutted fish. All my insides were on display. No more hiding. No more trying to find solace within myself (as if there was ever any solace there).
You see, when walls come down, something changes. You start to see everything differently. The world looks like when you walk out of a movie theater in the middle of the afternoon before your eyes have adjusted. It’s blinding. Everything hurts. Everything feels so vivid, so strong. It’s like being born. It’s terrifying.
Somehow, it happened. My walls came crashing down. God must have had angels marching around my walls for quite some time, blowing horns and such, and one day, at the right time, it happened. In the ruins of what remained, I crawled out, waited for the dust to settle, and realized just what had happened. I felt naked, scared, and vulnerable. There was no going back. I was unable to rebuild what I had once had before. No more safety. No more comfort.
Living without walls is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. There are days that I feel like anything could destroy me. The smallest word, or action from the right person, and I’d be devastated beyond repair. Every day, every moment is a risk.
The best part about letting your walls down is that you are then free to love someone completely and fully. You can love the way love was meant to be given. The worst part about it is that by loving someone fully, I relinquish all power and control to them. They have the ability to crush me in the palm of their hand if they so choose. I believe God wanted us to be this way though. I think it was always intended to be as though we are like a train racing down a track at max speed, knowing there’s a cliff ahead, and there’s nothing we can do about it. I think He wanted us to know that it could be the end of us. Love from this place is a love from the chambers of eternity. We see our possible demise, and we cry out to God and trust Him to save us from it.
The truth is, I’ve realized that I think part of my story, and every one else’s story on this earth, is to break down walls. I think God calls us to it. He breaks down our walls over and over again, so that we can see the world for what it is. He frees us from ourselves so we can actually learn to love people where they are. He calls us to be fully in it, so we are invested, so we can prove to another human being that they are worth loving too. God uses people like you and me to help redefine love, something that has become so cheap and arbitrary that no one even wants it or knows what it is anymore! But love is the most incredible thing this world has ever seen! If it weren’t for love, we would not still be here! We would not have the opportunity to even approach God! It is through love that we can be forgiven, that we can be empowered, and that we can find our identity. And NONE of this can ever be achieved or experienced if we are spending all of our time and energy building and maintaining our ridiculous walls. How pathetic can we really be? How pathetic have I been!?
When I started this post, I was in a different place. I knew what I wanted to write about, I just wasn’t sure how it would end. Days later, I’m still writing this blog. I’m still pondering over all of these thoughts. After recent events in my life, and a conversation I had today, I think I know what I want to say.
I’ve known people who think they know what they deserve. They are so sure of what they deserve that they live their life in light of this notion. I used to be that person. I used to think I didn’t deserve anything good. I didn’t think I deserved love, or forgiveness, or grace. I genuinely believed I deserved nothing but pain and heartache for the things I had done, the people I had hurt, and the life I had led. But when it came down to it, I didn’t want to be forgiven. I was afraid of the risk. I knew that If I really wanted God or anyone else to really love me and forgive me, that I would be relinquishing all control. They would then have the power to reject me, to prove me right. God has always had that power, and He was never going to do that. But I didn’t know that before, I know that now. And God calls you and I to love with the same love He does. Love is more than a feeling. Its more than an action, a word, a good deed, a phone call, a date. Love is a sacrifice! Love means dying to ourselves and making much of someone else. If love is my lifestyle, I don’t have very much time to be concerned with myself. Hopefully that will be someone else’s job one day. It has always been God’s job, I just wasn’t acknowledging it.
If it weren’t for God breaking down my walls and meeting me in my mess, I would never be where I am right now. I would never have been radically changed by a love I had no idea existed. Because of this, I know He is calling me to do the same with those in my life. I know he has called me to love fully, with no abandon, throwing caution to the wind, and running head first over the cliff. I would like to say I’m not afraid. I’d like to say I’m not skeptical sometimes. I’d even like to say that I think I can do it. But the reality is I don’t. I don’t think I can do it. I AM afraid. But God has broken into my life in a way He never has before. I have been more affirmed than I’ve ever been. There’s been more evidence of Him working in my life than ever before. I know what I have to do. I am called to more. I am called to be greater, to make a difference, and BE the difference to someone. We are all called to be the difference to someone. We should stop talking about it. We should open the gates, take down our signs, and let someone in. If we don’t do it today, God will march around our walls and break them down tomorrow. Its inevitable. Its terrifying. And its the most incredible thing that will ever happen to us.