By Nicole Ricley, Guest Author
[This article originally appeared on DisplayTheGospel.com.]
So, here's my confession: I build walls. Big, heavy, stubborn, impenetrable walls. Walls built with the stones of pride and fear that I have for so long allowed to become the prominent building blocks in the construction of my life. And if I'm really being honest, this wall-building is nothing more than a defense mechanism designed to give me a false sense of safety within the boundaries I have established. For years, these walls have dictated how I interact with and love others. They have hurt me and hurt others, and it's not a fun way to live. It can be exhausting, lonely and honestly, just pretty darn miserable. This has been what I like to call my Quarter-Life Crisis.
In the midst of all of it, I have started to realize the greatest irony of it all; while I envision these walls protecting me and keeping me safe from possible pain, judgment or heartache, these walls are simultaneously keeping out so many good things. Friendship, joy, intimacy, complete and freedom-giving "known"ness. And that is where God has been challenging me for the last couple of years.
WHEN I BUILD WALLS, I AM OPERATING IN AN ANTI-KINGDOM PARADIGM.
It is in this struggle, and in all the other areas that I find myself most fearful, Christ calls me to lay my life down and follow Him (Matthew 16:24). To follow Him into vulnerable territory, the world of openness and freedom. Because our God is the God who breaks down walls. He destroys physical Jericho-sized barriers (Joshua 6:1-27). He obliterates invisible social and racial walls between those "chosen" and those deemed "unclean," destroying and dividing walls of hostility (Ephesians 2:14). And as if that weren't enough, He rips heavy curtains from top to bottom, removing barriers that once separated people from His Holy Presence (Matthew 27:51).
He brings them all to rubble.
He is the God who brings people in and draws them closer. And just like He did for them in the stories we find in Scripture, and just like He continues to do for His people today, He is my Father who sees me and gently whispers,
"Surrender your pride"
"Trust Me enough to open up your heart."
"Let go of thinking you can control "
But sometimes those gentle love-drenched whispers to my soul are drowned out by the nagging voice of the enemy.
"You're not good enough."
"There is something wrong with you."
"This is the way it should and always will be."
Lie after lie after lie. The broken, prideful, lonely woman that emerges when I listen to this nagging accuser is not the woman I want to be. At all. And more importantly, it's not the woman God has created me to be. So, I'm fighting back. Fighting to believe that what is really true.
He's constantly beckoning me to return to Him and find my true identity in Him and in His Word. That's a beautiful grace I still have trouble understanding. But still, as a loving Father with arms open wide, He embraces me. At the altar.
By faith, I will come and I will trust that He will help me break down my walls.
Stone by stone.