Once in everyone’s life there comes a time to do some construction. We build walls, and we tear walls down. We build walls to keep out the enemy, and we build walls to keep in what we value most. Whatever the reason, it is time to start the process to tear down these walls. Good or bad, old or new, they have to go. Some say it is about the journey, I say it is about the destination. Let’s get to a good place.
In the bible there is a story that I love to think of when I am pondering over a stone wall. The story of Nehemiah is once of my favorite stories of determination and faith. I cannot quote word for word his story, but I know enough about him to know that when he was mocked and ridiculed and expected to fail, he made quite a triumph for his people. The rebuilding of the walls surrounding Jerusalem was going to be a mammoth project that no one was willing to commit to But Nehemiah knew the security of his people depended on getting those walls put back up. Somehow he managed to convince everyone to just do a little part and put up the stones around the fronts of their own homes. The enemy ridiculed him and put no faith into those walls ever going up again, but lo and behold, his endurance and faith prevailed. Alas, one day they were standing tall and stronger than ever before, and the enemy had no chance of breaching those walls.
I truly love that story and encourage anyone who will to read it. I have seen once, someone use the example of Nehemiah to make a great thing happen again. It was actually in the movie, “Facing the Giants,” and if you have not seen that movie, please give it a watch! To make a long story short, it is a bout a high school football team who beat all the odds. Okay, so maybe you have seen that story line more than once, it never gets old, though. They are in the championship game, after coming from year after year of losing streaks and finally getting that once in a lifetime chance to make something happen. The coach had taught the boys the story of Nehemiah and how he made the walls to hold so strong the enemy could not prevail. So, when the game was on the line, the coach said one thing to the leader of the defensive line: “Stone Wall.” The young tackle got it, he encouraged his line to form a human wall that the opponents could not breach. You can probably guess the team won the championship and the story had a wonderfully happy ending.
But sometimes, we do not put up those kinds of walls, the kind of physical walls that help us be victorious against our enemies. Sometimes we put up emotional walls, walls around our hearts, and the kind of walls that help us keep others out. Most of the time we justify what we are doing by saying things to ourselves like, “I’ve been hurt before and I’m just protecting myself.” It is all too easy to do; after all, self preservation is as natural a human instinct as is breathing.
I know in my own personal story, I have built so many walls that I should have an architect license by now. From early on in my childhood, I felt let down by people in my life. Then, as I grew older and began to develop relationships with other people, once I started feeling close to someone, up went the wall. So, that happened again and again, until I finally ran out of room to put up any more walls. Then it came time to start tearing down a few.
I spent most of my life refusing to let anyone see me, the real me. I was convinced that I could not be hurt by anyone if they did not know my weaknesses, my fears, or my concerns. So, I pretty much made a lifetime hobby of helping other people deal with their problems. I wanted to be the one everyone came to when they needed someone to talk to, after all if we were always busy talking about your problems, we never had time to talk about mine, right?
And, then one day I finally realized that hiding behind all those walls was not hurting anyone as much as it was hurting me. So, the thing I had put in place to protect myself from getting hurt was the very thing that was hurting me. This inability to fully open up and reveal myself to people was hurting me in my relationships, my friendships, and even with my co-workers. Who knew? I learned so much about so many people from allowing them to open themselves up and reveal to me, yet, no one ever really knew me. Not one person could tell you my dreams or my desires, or even the thing that scared me most in life. I used to go to church, and most people knew that about me, but no one knew that I lost my faith and renounced Christianity. I always figured, no ever ever asked, so it was unlikely that anyone really cared any way. Hence, more walls.
So, then I found myself at a place and time in my life where some demolition was certainly in order. Life is hard, sure is, but what good does it actually do when we just hide from it in out feeble attempt to avoid it? When we peep out, guess what? It is still there. So, join along on this journey to face life head-on, and wall by wall, peel away all the layers that are keeping us form the life we deserve and desire. I have personally come a long way from where I was when I began the process, but I still have a ways to go to be fully where I long to be. I am in a continual process of, as I like to say, winging it. The first part of the process is easy enough, although it may not seem like that on day one. Take a notebook and number the first two pages from one to ten. On page one, title it “positive” and the second page will be titled “negative.” Take some time to reflect and really think about this, and on page one, list the ten most positive things you can find in your life. Guess what you will do with the second page? If you said the same, right on! Only on page two, you will be listing, you guessed it, the ten most negative things in your life. On page three you will list five people who you have in your life that you trust and believe you can share the things that you need to talk about. Okay, so the next two pages are where you will have to really humor me, make a list of ten positive and ten negative words. Then search out and write down one affirmation relating to each word. That is only twenty affirmations, and that will not be hard to find. After that, you will be equipped with the tools that you need to start the process. You have the top ten key things that both lift you up and bring you down. You have a minimum of five pairs of ears to chew on, five pairs of shoulders to lean on, and five pairs of hands to hold, and you have twenty affirmations to refer to. Starting with the first blank page in your notebook, journal. Just write down your thoughts and feelings, fully open up, no one will ever read this book, unless you allow them to. Every day, as you are jotting down your thoughts to ponder, you can have security in knowing that if something is particularly tough for that day, you have an emergency list of friends to call on. As you start making progress with your journaling, and bring to light things that h ave been haunting you for so long, you will hopefully become more comfortable with allowing someone else in, and maybe want to start sharing some of the things that you have taught yourself about yourself.
At the same time, remember this is a process, a journey, so, baby steps. As you work on this process, really give some true thought into what you are journaling about. Why are the walls there in the first place? Is there someone who hurt you in the past and you do not want to feel that way again? Has life made you feel like you cannot trust anyone? Or, maybe, are you trying to protect the world from yourself, are you afraid of what you are capable of? Whatever the reason, just take the time to reflect on why this began. What happened to make you feel the need to take such measures? Dr. Martin Luther King Jr once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” For certain, in the darkness things can unravel quickly. One of my “go-to” tricks, and it may help you, is to sit in the sunlight; let its warmth bathe you, and bring the things of your mind out into the light. We cannot fight what we cannot see.