Really, most of us have pretty good reasons for building walls. Maybe we’ve tried to be vulnerable and have been hurt or shamed. Maybe the people who were supposed to be our people ended up letting us down disastrously. Maybe we needed someone, and we were met with dismissal or derision or flat-out rejection, or we were taken advantage of and it really, deeply messed with us. That’s legitimate pain. So we build walls of protection. That’s my story, too. I opened up one too many times, and got hurt one too many times, and that’s when I started pulling back.
Still, we can grow so lonely behind this wall. So what is God’s answer to the Wall of Protection?
Wall of Protection vs. Armor of God
Read Ephesians 6:10–18
God doesn’t leave us defenseless. We have power, and we have armor.
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. — Ephesians 6:10-17
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul isn’t pretending that God doesn’t care if we get hurt by flaming arrows. We have the Holy Spirit to give us discernment and lead us as we determine who to invite in, who to get close to. And if they do hurt us? It doesn’t destroy us. We can risk hurt because God protects us from anything that would really take us out. Why hide behind a flimsy wall when we have this armor? You don’t have to pray power over the darkness, God says. I gave you power over the darkness. I am the power over the darkness... You have the Sword of the Spirit.
WALL OF UNMET EXPECTATIONS VS. OUR HOPE
Read Hebrews 10:19–27
First let me say, it’s good to have standards. To want good things from friends. Dependability. Trustworthiness. Kindness. Thoughtfulness. A great sense of humor. All wonderful things! But if we’re not careful, we start making mental lists of all the things we want our friends to be for us, and if they miss the mark in some way, we draw back. We shield ourselves from disappointment over forgotten birthdays and unanswered texts and careless words. We put up the Wall of Unmet Expectations.
We dismantle this wall by placing our hope back where it belongs: in Jesus.
We confess our hope in the only One who is forever faithful. Consider this from Hebrews 10:
Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. — Hebrews 10:22-25
We can hold fast to our hope. We can be confident in Him, even if we’re disappointed in people sometimes, and even if we ourselves disappoint. We stick with each other and try to make things right, because we have the ultimate Right who has sprinkled us fresh and clean.
WALL OF SHAME VS. THE TRUTH
Read Romans 8
Shame is something we’ll come back to again and again in this study, because one of the enemy’s favorite lies is shame and because the cost of shame is connection.
We wall ourselves off with shame when we want to avoid other people seeing us for who we are or provoking a deep shame already present in us.
You may be ashamed of being too needy, for mistakes in the past, things you are hiding, the way you “always” mess things up. Maybe you don’t share your struggles now because you’ve shared your struggles before, and “friends” punished you for being so real.
The devil is good at his job. Shame is one of his favorite weapons to strip us of connection and community, and not only does shame leave us isolated, but shame also informs the thoughts we think as we sit there gravely alone.
“It’s your fault that you are alone.”
Ugh. Isn’t it enough to be alone without feeling guilty over the fact that we are?
Isolation is one of shame’s greatest goals. And, man, does it work!
We all experience this so often that we need a really dependable tool to combat it. This is how I see Romans 8. It’s like a pick-axe I can pick up again and again to tear down the wall of shame.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. — Romans 8:1-4
The new objective reality for those of you who believe in Jesus Christ and have trusted in Him as your Lord and Savior and put your hope in Him, is “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” This is your new reality. You don’t have to feel shame. You can actually deal with it. It doesn’t have to haunt you for the rest of your life. It doesn’t have to define your decisions, your relationships, or your encounters with God.
However many times you have to repeat Romans 8:1 to yourself, however many times shame tries to snag you, it’s a battle worth fighting and a wall worth tearing down. Because, really, the battle is already won. All we have to do is claim it.
Excerpted with permission from Find Your People study guide by Jennie Allen, copyright Jennie Allen.
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Have you built walls of protection? How have those walls affected your life? Are you lonely? Come find your people! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full