My life is full of imaginary brick walls. Some thick and looming, some crumbled and deteriorating, and still others that are bright red and sturdy, shielding me from outside winds.
But the walls are everywhere.
I told you recently about the wall I’d been building between my husband and I. I confessed how I had picked up each brick one by one, felt it’s weight, and then foolishly set it down between us. Never looking up, I worked tirelessly at my wall. It wasn’t until I stopped to see it for what it was- a lie, that I had the sense to stop. The wall was a lie because I always thought it kept me safe, but it turns out that it really only kept me separate. You see, some walls need to be brought down.
Other walls are brought down by accident, by sudden impact, or even by neglect.
There’s a wall that I haven’t told you about. I don’t think I’m ready to name it just yet. Maybe it’s not even mine to name, but it shares my landscape. This wall has begun to crumble. At first I was all action- running in every direction trying to catch the bricks as they fell away, trying desperately to stack them back into place. But now…
Now I’m just paralyzed in the moment.
I feel myself standing there at the bottom, frozen in a dust cloud of smoke and rubble, watching it fall. I want this wall to be strong again, but I am helpless because it is not mine to labor over. Some walls represent shared spaces, and at the end of the day that is all they are. Shared spaces. I can help clean up the wreckage but I cannot build the wall. It doesn’t belong to me.
Which got me thinking…
I’ve spent too much time toiling over the wrong walls. There are other, more important walls, after all. My marriage, for instance, is a load-bearing wall. It shelters me, protects me, and holds me up. It not only deserves, but requires my constant care. I must abandon my habit of building walls between us and instead build the wall of us.
Because if a wall is truly strong, it cannot be easily brought down.
I look at my daughter and I realize that at nine years old, her foundation is solid but she is barely off the ground. The mortar is still wet. She has yet to take shape. There is much building to be done.
My hope for her is that instead of spending her life identifying as Rapunzel in the tower waiting to be rescued, she would identify more as the strong tower itself. That she would be a fortress not easily shaken. That she would know her worth and her value. That she would allow only the most worthy of suitors to one day scale her walls and gain her heart.
But how do I build a fortress that strong?
No seriously, I’m not like, asking for a friend here or something. I actually need to know. I’m not sure I’ve figured it out yet. So far all I’ve got is the old-fashioned way. The rolling up my sleeves, hard-work way.
The Brick By Brick Way.
By knowing who she is and meeting her in that place. By calling out the good in her. And by sometimes calling out the dark places in her too. By reminding her that the world needs more women who are willing to do hard and holy things. By reminding her she is loved fiercely and tenderly, just as she is, not only by her father and I but by her Heavenly Father as well. By teaching her to love others fiercely, tenderly, and openly in return.
By SAYING THE THINGS. I mean, seriously. How often as parents do we forget to actually say all the things? The small and little things that tend to fall away to bigger things? The “You are smart, you are kind, you are important” kinds of things? The “Don’t do drugs, don’t give in to peer pressure, and don’t sell yourself short” kinds of things?
I mean, I forget to all the time. In my defense, it is an awful lot of things to remember to say. Luckily there is still time. Luckily this wall is not only mine to build. Luckily God’s grace often covers me where I come up short in the parenting department.
But I really love these walls I’m building- this marriage and these tiny, tender, little hearts that have been put into my care. I want these walls to stand tall and proud. I want to work hard and to work well and someday I want to sit back and wipe the sweat off my brow, knowing in my gut that I did my real and true best.
So I think I am going to stop laboring in vain over those walls that are not mine and those walls that aren’t even supposed to be there in the first place. I’m going to do a little bit of renovation. I’m going to pick up the tools that the good Lord saw fit to give me and I’m going to put my heart and my soul into building up the walls that hold my household- and my heart- together.
Before I go, and also because I’ve seen You’ve Got Mail roughly 94 times, I’m going to send this question out into the cosmic void:
“What about you, dear void?”
What is your wall? Does it need building up or tearing down? I pray you find the strength to do whichever is needed.