With anticipation, I counted down the days until they arrived. I imagined our time together filled with good laughs, deep conversations, delicious food, board games, times of prayer, and so much more. I couldn’t wait. At the same time, I pushed out the thoughts that crept in telling me, “don’t get your hopes up,” “do you really think that these things will happen?”
Thankfully, my anticipation and deep desires out ran these questions that tried to squash my hope. I optimistically waited for their arrival.
Instead of deep conversations, I often sit wondering how to engage the other person. I come up with a few ideas, but I usually resign and follow up with what’s new on Facebook. I want to create together, I want to laugh, I want to dream, I want to explore, I want to be connected.
Do you ever anticipate this kind of connection, but find it rarely transpires? Your heart longs to know and be known. You long to make those lasting memories or discover more of what makes the other person tick.
Okay, to be honest, this kind of anticipation and expectation happens more often than just when my visitors are coming to town. It happens when we load up our car and head out for a weekend trip. It happens when the holidays come around, when I visit with a friend, when I walk in the front door at work, when my husband and I have a few hours together, and when I go to church. My love language is quality time and I tend to want everything and every moment to be meaningful so I find this anticipation occurs every day.
I know, I’ve been working on adjusting my expectations and realizing that trips to the grocery store most likely won’t lead to a meaningful conversation (still breaks my heart to know this is true). I’m realizing that meaningful doesn’t always look the same for every person or every occasion.
But I still want to know if there is something that can be done. Is there a way to engage and experience the connection I desire ?
THE UNLIKELIEST OF PLACES
This past week my parents were in town and I deeply wanted to connect, but with every attempt I failed. My time with them was short, two days, and then they would be heading home to Ecuador. How could I waste these few precious hours, I didn’t want too, but I did.
They showed up to my work on the last day of their visit and from there we went to visit Zoe’s gravesite. We all stood with tears in our eyes as we looked at the picture of Jesus holding Zoe on her memorial stone.
After a few minutes, I experienced the wall crumbling. The wall that was keeping me from connecting with my parents crumbled as we gathered together in silence and tears around the place my little girl is buried. As the wall came down I moved a little closer to my dad and we hugged each other and then a few moments later the three of us embraced and connected on the level I had so desired.
It was hard to leave that place. It is always hard to leave, but especially hard because having my wall down felt so warm and good and right. I feared that it would be fully built by the time I drove out the cemetery gate and I wanted to stay connected to these two people who held me tight.
The wall did begin to go up again, but I think it was thinner and shorter than before our visit. That night we played games again and I had fun, laughed and enjoyed the company. I started thinking about the wall, how it crumbled, and how I connected with others while it was down.
Do we each have more than one wall around our heart? Do we have different walls that go up with different people? What about different walls for different circumstances and locations? Different purposes for the walls?
I realize that with some people, I have a wall that I put up so the sadness won’t pour out. With others, I have a wall to protect me from rejection. In certain circumstances, I have walls to protect me from being exposed, ridiculed, or found lacking. I have walls I hide behind. I have walls to protect. I have many walls and they come in different heights and thickness.
Unlike brick walls, my walls go up and down depending on my moods and circumstances. My walls keep me from connecting with people I care about and they prevent me from moving forward. I struggle to listen to what others are saying when my walls are up and my ability to experience the fullness of my emotions is limited.
But I found that all my walls come down when I go to Zoe’s gravesite. I decided to face a big fear and went to the cemetery by myself the day after my parents and I visited. Again, my wall came down and I began to pray. I prayed for families whose children passed away on that day. I prayed for the nurses and doctors who cared for these families. I prayed for people who were suicidal and thinking of ending their life. I stood amazed at how love grew in my heart while the walls were down. I poured out my heart about my fears and my desires.
So, I went back the next day. I prayed again, this time I prayed that people everywhere would know that God’s love is strong enough to carry them through their trial. I prayed for the people planning to murder someone would instead know God’s love. This prayer totally caught me by surprise. Where did this come from? I’ve prayed a lot but never for this and all I can say is when the walls come down our hearts can connect with God and we begin to love like He does.
I wanted more, so I have gone back almost every day since. I usually go right after work and only stay for five minutes, but those five minutes with my wall down are divine. I keep going back in hopes that practicing life without the walls will follow me out the cemetery gates.
LIVING WITHOUT THE WALLS
I want to live life without the walls. I want to love extravagantly, care deeply, give generously, dream passionately, listen carefully, engage meaningfully, and I find that these happen when the walls come down.
My walls surprise me. Often they go up without warning, but I’m starting to experience moments without them and this is good. Small steps can lead to great discovery and with each step I’m moving toward meaningful connection with those around me.
Do you have a place where all your walls come down? It might be the car, the shower, the closet, the outdoors. It might take a few minutes to figure out where your place is, but imagine what it would be like to experience life for a few minutes every day with all your walls down. How would your relationships be strengthed? What kind of dreams would develop? What depth of healing could transpire?
STEPS TO HELP YOU LET YOUR WALLS DOWN
Find a place you feel safe and vulnerable
Spend 5 minutes a day in this place
Reflect, meditate, pray
Express your emotions
“The Walls We Build To Protect Us From Sadness, Can Become The Walls Which Also Protect Us From Happiness. Know When To Let Your Guard Down.” ~Anonymous
Don’t be afraid to let the walls crumble, there is a love strong enough to carry you through every trial and circumstance. Letting down your walls might just be the next step you need to take.