Relationships are the most valuable currency we have. Life is about connection. It’s about establishing trust. Nowhere is this connection and trust more important than with our family and friends.
But for many men, this connection of trust can be hard. It’s not because they don’t want those connections, it’s not that they don’t want to trust people but because of the hurts and heartaches that they have suffered, they’ve built walls around their hearts.
When they first begin building these walls, they tell ourselves that they are for their own protection. It’s their way of keeping the hurt at bay but soon they realize the stronghold they have built has become a prison of they’re own making.
I know because I am one of those men. When I was about 14-years-old my parents divorced. For me, this was a devastating experience. It completely destroyed my family, it shook my faith in all that I believed in. I had grown up in the church; my father and grandfather were ministers. Divorce was not something that was supposed to happen to families like mine. I went to bed one night with what I thought was a typical happy family and woke up the next morning to utter chaos.
It happened just like that.
This is one of the first times I can remember in my life that people I looked up to and respected, the people that were supposed to protect me, hurt and disappointed me. I went through all the typical things that children of divorce have to go through. Switching from one parent’s home to the other every other weekend, hearing one side of the family talk bad about the other. A lot of times I didn’t know how to deal with what had happened.
So what did I do? I began building walls to protect myself.
Over the years because I felt I couldn’t rely on family members any more I started relying on friends to fill the void that my hurt had left. Each time these friendships failed, I built a few more walls.
This all happened during the all-important teen years when I was trying to discover who I was and what I believed. It was one hurt after the other. By the time I was a young adult I had an impressive stronghold built around my heart. One that I was proud of, no one could penetrate the defenses that I had built. I wasn’t going to allow anyone to ever hurt me again.
No one could breach the walls that I had built. No matter what the devil or this world tried to throw at me, I could handle it because I was safe within my walls.
I thought my spiritual stronghold, built with my own hands would protect me. I could not have been more wrong. You see I had played right into the enemy’s hands because there is only one protection for our spiritual wounds.
The Bible tells us in Proverbs 18:10:
“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous runs to it and is safe and set on high [far above evil].”
He should be our strong tower; He should be who we run to when we are hurt. When we seek refuge in anything outside of Christ we only find defeat.
Why do we build these walls? Why do we rely on own protection and walls that we have built to protect us?
I believe there are two main reasons:
- Lack of trust in God – In our heads we may have an understanding that God can protect us but we don’t trust that He will. We reason that since we have gone through trials and hurts in our life that God cannot be relied upon to help us. We rely on what we can do ourselves.
Jeremiah 17:5 says, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in and relies on mankind, Making [weak, faulty human] flesh his strength, And whose mind and heart turn away from the Lord.'”
- Fear – We are afraid of what we may have to go through in this life. We are afraid that we cannot handle what the enemy throws at us.
Psalms 56:3-4 says, “When I am afraid, I will put my trust and faith in You. In God, whose word I praise; In God I have put my trust; I shall not fear. What can mere man do to me?”
The walls we have built to keep the hurt and pain shut out, have also shut out the close relationship with our family and with God that we so desperately crave.
Dealing with past hurts and trauma is not something that you just acknowledge and then move past. Most of the walls that we hide behind took years to build and it will take years to fully dismantle them.
Though God showed me this lesson years ago, I still have to make a conscious effort to not allow those walls that I have successful destroyed to be rebuilt. Every time there is a misunderstanding with my wife, I have to remind myself not to shut down and close myself off.
I’m thankful for an understanding wife and a gracious God who can look past the broken parts of me.
If you are like me and you find yourself battling past hurts, know there is a God waiting for you to run to him. You’ll never regret the decision and once those walls begin to crumble, you’ll find the connection with those you love stronger than ever.