Living Behind Walls
We live among people who are hurting deeply, and they simply don’t know what to do with their pain. So, they build walls. They shut out others. They turn inward and begin living in self-preservation mode, adding layers between themselves and anyone who might bump into their existing bruises. These people are hard to live with, but these people need our help. They have become accustomed to living behind walls and we must not leave them on the lonely side of their fortress.
“A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle” – Proverbs 18:19.
The proverb above refers to a castle, a strong city fortified by walls built with the intention of being impenetrable. The walls provide safety from attack, the ability to see danger coming from a distance, and the ability to live a decent life without the unease of danger — as long as you stay within the walls.
The writer indicates that a person who has been offended is as difficult to win as this walled-up city. When we are deeply wounded in life (and who hasn’t been?) there exists the potential to retreat within our own castle, fleeing for our own security. None of us desire pain and our natural instinct is to flee or fight anything which might cause us hurt. Though not everyone retreats behind bricks, many do; they learn to live at a distance from others. Insulation from potential pain becomes isolation from actual relationships and, for those on the outside of those walls, seeking to win back our loved one trapped inside can be a heartbreaking process.
Truth be known, hurt people act unreasonably at times. They say things that are regrettable because from the well of a wounded heart, contaminated waters come forth. They act in ways that cause injury to us and others; whether consciously or unconsciously, they allow their pain to somehow seep out from behind their bricks and negatively impact others. They need the help we would give them, but they are afraid of the risk of connecting again. They have learned to live behind the walls, and it makes them feel safe even though, in the most profound sense, they live there all alone.
May God grant you the deepest grace to continue to “risk it” with people like this in your life. Keep making yourself available to those who are content to continue being behind bricks. I’m a firm believer that God has at least one person that He will use to reach each of these hurting people. I don’t wish to add guilt or pressure upon you, but I would have you consider that you might be the only one left who loves that person enough not to walk away from them. The more troubled and difficult they are, the greater the temptation for you to walk away. These types of people are not seen as a good investment of our time because they are, frankly, a frustrating pain.
Why would I ask you to consider this approach? Because there is a valuable person on the other side of that wall. They mean something to you, or you wouldn’t have been thinking of them the whole time you’ve been reading this blog. Even more so, they are incredibly valuable to the heart of God and He may wish to entrust to you the great privilege of helping them — of winning back the well-fortified city of their heart. After all, that’s what God does for us when we hide. He pursues us. He refuses to give up on us. At times God waits for us to grow tired of the walls we’ve built between Him and us. He is the gracious, committed seeker of our highest good. This is also how we must love the most challenging people in our lives. We leave the impenetrable wall to God while we simply focus on working on that one brick in front of us.