“The best offense is a good defense.”

“Good fences make good neighbors.”

Having protection from animals and defending property are great reasons for fences. Whatever it’s made of, the fence functions as a barrier. It’s meant to mark territory. One side is ‘in’, and the other is ‘out’. It clears up any confusion about where the lines are drawn.

There are barriers like that around hearts sometimes too. They get built for the same reasons as physical fences. It’s always about protection.

People can be cruel. Words fly, feelings get hurt, egos begin to deflate. Who wants to be a part of that? We all have tender feelings, of course the first reaction is to protect them.

If I am repeatedly rejected, believe me, no one is coming in anymore. It’s taking too big a risk that I’ll get hurt again.

Up go the barricades. No one can touch my heart now.

But it’s a double-edged sword. The problem with living in that protected place is that while no one can get in, I’m not getting out either. Choosing to cope this way actually ends up crippling me.

I feel safe. I fell protected. But pretty soon, that place of love inside of me I’m trying to protect? It’s going to start curling up and turning brown.

I’m not created to serve and protect just myself. Every one of us is a precious gift to bring support, love and light to each other. But those gifts don’t grow and thrive while surrounded by fencing. Held close, they wilt and lose their potency.

Now I’m not saying I haven’t run behind a fence or two in my time. I suspect I will again. Putting myself ‘out there’ and sharing my abilities opens me up to all kinds of grace. But it also opens me up to all kinds of ridicule. Not everyone appreciates my help, talents or expertise. That’s just a fact of life.

But building barriers when someone says something unkind, or didn’t call, or told me I’m not needed, is just not the answer.

I think it’s better to just walk away. That’s what the disciples did.

“If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.”  Matthew 10:14

So like them, I’ll do something new. I’m going to skip the ‘defense’, and start the ‘de-fence’. Taking those boards down and clearing the land around me makes my heart expand and feel free again.

And in that freedom, I can choose to give where I am received, or walk away when I am shunned.

Without those fences, I can even come back again another day. Free to walk anywhere, I can revisit the places where I’d been abandoned. Who knows? God’s grace changes hearts and circumstances. I might be able to serve in that place of rejection someday.

As I de-fence, I’m really preparing to connect. And it won’t matter if I’m rejected. No matter what anyone says, I’ll always be free.

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58 thoughts on “De-Fence

  1. Great analogy, Ceil! It is our pride and ego that we try to protect. When it’s about others and realizing that the issues others have are generally their own issues releases us from being hurt. And why should we be surprised? Didn’t Christ warn us about that very thing?

    Clever girl with the de-fence… yeah, I caught that!

    • Hi Floyd! I didn’t think about it in those terms, but you are right. It certainly can be our ego, because I expect everyone to agree with me. When they don’t, I build the fence. Interesting take on it!

      Yes, Christ did say that he didn’t come into the world to have a big party. It’s not going to be easy to put up with opposition.
      Thanks for catching the play on words there. Isn’t that fun?

      Have a restful night!

  2. In every situation of Trust there is always the risk of betrayal. Whether it is a friendship, a business partnership, a marriage or whatever; in every circumstance where two or more people trust each other there is always the risk that someone will betray that trust. So we build fences around us and only break down these natural defences when we get to know the other person better. It’s only natural.

    We all know about the greatest betrayal ever – Judas betraying Jesus with a kiss.

    So what are we to do? Not trust anyone ever and go through life suspecting everyone. Building stronger and higher fences everywhere around us? This would be impossible and would jeopardize our every relationship.

    We have to accept that with trust we become a little more vulnerable and susceptible to abuse of that trust. It’s a risk we take as we journey through life.

    With one important exception:

    “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” John 14:1 NIV.

    Great post Ceil. Thank you.

    God bless.

    • Hi Victor! Thank you for coming back tonight!
      I like the way you said we have to be ‘a little more vulnerable.’ It’s hard to be completely out from behind our defenses, and I wonder if it’s even possible. (That would truly be sainthood.) To walk around completely free is a goal of mine. But I know it’s a tough one because I leave myself open to ridicule and rejection.

      But as you quoted, I should not to troubled. God is in control. My decision is ‘stay or walk’. I’ll have to trust in him to help me make that decision too.

      Such a thoughtful comment my friend. Thank you so much.

  3. Super interesting post, Ceil, since I’m a huge fan of healthy boundaries when we’ve got toxic people or unhealthy situations that threaten our wellbeing and sanity. But there’s a difference between those necessary hedges built from a place of wisdom … and those fences which are built from a place of fear and a defensive, non-inclusive spirit.

    And I love that you write about living in that place of freedom. That’s what Christ came for …

    This is a post to savor … as always!


    • Hi Linda! I am learning that this is an interesting topic, and there are many ways to look at it. Including your well-taken point that some boundaries are absolutely necessary to peace.

      I wonder if there is ever a way to make that boundary in the state of freedom? Not to do it from total fear, but from total choice. You could speak to that so much better than I could.

      ‘Fences’ is an interesting way to describe protecting ourselves. But my point was more for choosing to make decisions with the peace of Christ, which gives us freedom. Too many times I can be bound by my own fears and emotions and cut myself off from others. That is the opposite of what I am called to be.

      It is an interesting concept!
      Thank you for your insight here. I always appreciate your thoughts.

      • Hey Again ~ I am so resonating with what you’re saying about making our decisions based on total freedom, total choice, and that peace that can only come from Christ.

        And I love that verse ‘God has not given us a spirit of fear, but power, love, and a sound mind.’ Such a different, thoughtful decision making platform rather than the kneejerk reaction that so easily can kick in.

        Cloud & Townsend’s BOUNDARIES books are such cool resources on this subject.

        Love the discussion you’ve got going here, Ceil. Stretching and thought-provoking. I’m so grateful you’re in my life …

        • Welcome back! I had no idea how profound the comments would be about this subject. It really strikes a deep chord.

          Thank you for mentioning the books on Boundaries, I think I’d like to read one sometime. Is a textbook?
          This subject touches people more than I ever knew.
          And I am so grateful for you too my friend. God is so good to bring us together.
          Have a restful night!

  4. Great post, Ceil, and I really like your analogy. I am a very sensitive person and I am certain that I have put that fence up on more occasions than I can count. As you said, though, keeping ourselves protected overly so also means us not getting out. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Hi Linda! We may have a fence or two located next to each other. I have hidden behind a few in my time too. But at least we bust out of there, right? Our lives are too precious to waste hidden in behind a fence.

      Thank you for your kind comment too 🙂

    • Hi Lulu! I guess we all have our places to hide. Mine is behind a fence, yours is a cave. I kind of like your imagery though. A cave is away from everyone, and dark and solitary. I get that.

      I hope you don’t spend too much time in there. Maybe a little rest period, and then back to the world? If you want, I’ll come and spend a little time with you there. Then, we’ll come out together. Sound good?


  5. Hello Ceil, We all have built fences and I have had to climb over a few of them in my day. I am glad He is my shield and fortress! Hope you have a wonderful long weekend! May summer begin and last till we are tired and ready for another winter!
    Blessings, Roxy

    • Hi Roxy! At least you are jumping over them, and not staying behind them!

      Thank you for your good wishes on this weekend. We are supposed to have good weather, so I am excited to get out walking again. As you know, I’m ready for the sun 🙂
      Have a great weekend my friend!

  6. Wooohoooo for “de-fencing”!!! Love it! This is part of what I have been working on, too. I come from a challenging background that taught me not to trust or be vulnerable. One day, I decided enough was enough and de-fenced for one person and for God and it has been a snowball effect from there. Genuine connection with God and others is so amazing and fulfilling. Isolation is for the birds and not even really for them! Hahaha! 🙂

    • Hi Anne! It’s hard to trust especially when you haven’t had a model for it. But in the end, we all have that choice, do I trust or not? Your ability to de-fence was a true gift from God. And it has payed you forward too! God is so good to us.

      Isolation is for birds! I love the community of believers. Without it, I know that I would be so lonely.

      Always so wonderful to see you here my friend 🙂

  7. This post made me think of Ephesians 2:14:
    “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,”

  8. Beautifully expressed, Ceil! There was a time in my life when I was quite the fence builder! It finally dawned on me one day that the person I was hurting the most was me. De-fencing (as you so cleverly put it) isn’t always easy until we begin to realize the freedom we are feeling as each piece comes down.

    Great post, Ceil!

    • Hi Dianna! I know it’s not easy, as I said, I’ve hid behind a few fences in my time. It always seems so much better to just hide away. But as you said, there is so much freedom in being able to walk around that fence and make good choices with The Lord. It is a great feeling!

      Thank you for your encouraging comments today, I really appreciate them 🙂

  9. Wonderful attitude, Ceil! It doesn’t surprise me to read this on your blog. You are a loving and giving and determined woman, secure in Christ’s love for you. You share great truth here. So many times in our efforts to “punish” others, we end up punishing ourselves.

    • Hi Pam! Oh my, thank you so much for your uplifting comments today! I am not always standing on the firm rock though, I have my days…

      But you’re right. We can be our own worst enemy as we hide away. We were made for more than living behind defenses!

      Blessings to you,

  10. Ceil: You have some good thoughts here. I have chosen to keep some of my history away from some of my friends because I don’t believe they would understand and I don’t think they could keep the information between themselves and me. I recently was asked about a relative and I had to share the root of the problem with a friend. Her reaction was a question that actually gave me a possible answer to this relative’s behavior.

    • Hi Cecelia! I’m so glad that your sharing ended up in a new thought about your relative! I can understand your hesitancy in sharing facts that you don’t think would stay in confidence. I get that. You are actually protecting another persons privacy.

      But God made sure the time was right for you to share. Isn’t that a great example of God’s timing vs. our own? Thank you for sharing that 🙂

    • Hi Linda! I know I am too. Like I said in the post, I have hidden in the past and will in the future I’m sure. But if I can remember that there is freedom with the Lord, I won’t stay quite so long.

      I really glad you could relate. I’m not alone 🙂

  11. A wonderful post, Ceil.
    It’s true that people can be cruel with spoken words and we retreat.into ourselves and want no contact.
    But there are times when a friendship that was broken cannot be mended even if we try.
    I have been in that situation and when I realized my friend was toxic to my being I knew I was better off without her.
    It’s strange to me that a friendship of many years (almost 18) would end but it did, sadly.
    I have forgiven her but I do not forget her cruel words.
    I am truly better off without her as she is not the person I thought she was.

    This post made me think of my friend that I once had and I am know wishing her well and saying a prayer she has found peace in her life.

    • Hi Margie! I think you had to shake the dust from your feet and move on. That is a sad thing, especially since you were friends for so long. Who knows what changes people’s hearts? But you did what you had to do. Not close yourself off from others, just knew you had to move on.

      It’s wonderful that you prayed for her. I hope she has found peace too, just like you did with your decision.
      Blessings to your tender heart,

  12. Great post Ceil! Did my ♥ good to read this today. Thanks for the visit today and your kind comment. Yes, I’m doing a bit better…Bible verses always help.

    • Hi Jan! I’m glad you feel even a little bit better. Your post is such a great tool to slide into God’s presence.

      Thank you for your visit today!

  13. Well said words Ceil. I used to be one who thrived on others’ acceptance.I had to learn to get over that. I can’t say my feelings were/are hurt easily, but when they are I usually get over it quickly. But I did/do have to learn to be more careful around people.

    • Hi Bill! What a grace you have! It’s a wonderful thing to be able to separate yourself from negative words. That’s great! And even if your feelings are hurt, you can bounce right back…such a witness to your intention, and the Lord’s strength! A very strong combination!

      I think we all have to be careful around others. I tend to have an ironic sense of humor, and it can get misinterpreted. I need to work on that.

      So nice to have met you today through Floyd. I look forward to learning more about you 🙂

  14. Well said! I’ve been guilty of building those walls, withdrawing into myself when I’m hurt. I’ve been trying to tear them down, even though it removes the boundaries of my comfort zone. Yes, we can’t fully love if we don’t allow ourselves to be vulnerable.

    • Hi Melissa! That’s a good point, the whole idea of ‘comfort zones.’ It is very attractive to hide away. No stress, just me. But we were created to bust through those places and face the new things God wants to show me. I didn’t think of it in that way. Thank you!

      It was so nice to meet through Roxy’s link-up. I look forward to getting to know you better 🙂

          • I’d forget my own head if it wasn’t … what’s that saying? Just kidding, but I’ve been ditsy lately. It wasn’t Bonnie’s linkup at all. You came to my blog from Lisa Notes, after which I came here. In any case, it’s good to meet you and I look forward to getting to know you!

  15. Great post, it reminds me of a sermon I heard once about a how we set boundaries, lines people can’t cross and when they do cross them we have penalties already prepared for them.

    We shut them out. We harden our hearts. And in turn, we become prisoners.

    Eph 4:32 was the scripture used. We must remind tender hearted, forgive as Christ forgave us.

    • Hi TC! I love that idea of the penalty. I didn’t think of it that way. I love it though. When we are hurt, we strike out.

      Eph 4:32 “Be friends with one another, and kind, forgiving each other as readily as God forgave you in Christ.”

      Great reason to start that de-fence project 🙂

  16. What a great post, Ceil. A great analogy, as always. I was getting my post ready for the “Good Fences” link up that many of us are taking part in when I came across this in my feed…appropriate. You might be able to keep me out, but don’t fence me in! Lol!

    • Hi Debby! I should look into that link party, shouldn’t I? I think God must be speaking to both of us about fences 🙂

      Thank you for your kind comment about the post. I think it’s a great thing you said about not wanting to be fenced in. We all should want to roam free in God’s big world!

      Thanks for stopping by today!

  17. Guilty as charged 🙂 Being a pastor’s wife comes with its own set of trust issues. I constantly am aware of keeping my heart pliable in the hands of the Lord and to have very flexible boards in my fence. The Lord is actually a big help – I’ve come a long way. And hey! My trust issues got me a book contract…”The Perils of a Pastor’s Wife.” Loved the post.

    • Hi Nan! I like that idea of ‘flexible boards’ in your fence. We all have times of roaming free, and times of retreating to the fences.

      I’m sure there are times that you have to be careful what you say so you don’t get misinterpreted. What a wonderful subject for your book! Congratulations on the contract 🙂 That is so exciting, I bet you were celebrating! When does it come out? Or maybe you are still writing it?
      Either way, best of blessings on the writing and the release. This is such a special time in your life.

      Happy Friday!

  18. Beautiful thoughts of you Ceil how the defense turned to De- fence. I love it how I can go outside and inside through the fence – I should let my heart to learn this more. I’m kinda sensitive person and think too much till it hurt myself but sometimes I need to learn to walk away, and let it go without defense or offense. I can built my own fences of heart to protect my mind and heart.

    Thanks for sharing Ceil.
    Blessing to you,

    • Hi Delvalina! I think we are all like that really. Some of it is our human nature, but I do believe that I could improve. If I concentrate on walking with the Lord, then I don’t have to fear. I can move freely, and listen to the opinions and thoughts of others and not let it intimidate me.

      Definitely a work in progress though. I don’t know if I’ll make it, but I’m ready to try.
      Happy Weekend my friend 🙂

  19. By opening our hearts, we risk rejection and hurt. And yes I too have been hurt. But I don’t want to miss out on the blessings of an open heart. I loved your analogy Ceil. I too will venture out in love as I know the One who holds my heart in His hand.

    Blessings and love,

    • Hi Debbie! That’s a great attitude. You know you can gain so much from being open, it’s worth the possibility of getting hurt. I think that was Jesus’ attitude too.

      Thank you for your visit today! I hope you have a great long weekend. Teachers like them too 🙂

  20. Ceil, Such great wisdom here. For a long time I carried a fence around my heart. I thought it was to protect me from people, but it also kept me locked up. I wish I’d been wiser and trusted more in Him then. All life lessons are useful; I will never forget the lessons He has taught me. Blessings, friend.

    • Hi Kim! That’s for sure. God never wastes any of our actions, he uses them all to teach us. What a grace that you have overcome your fences! I hope to be like you someday.

      Thank you for your blessings, and I send them your way too.

      Happy Friday!

  21. De-fence. what a cool concept. The retreat I was on a couple of weeks ago, the presenter said: Invite your hindrances to tea. She explained that much of the layers were put over our heart were there for a good reason – to protect us, to help us heal and survive. we need to befriend them, be aware of them. great post, Ceil!

    • Hi Jean! What a great idea! But I see it as inviting my hindrances to tea and finding out which ones stay, and which ones go. Some fences are healthy, some have outlives their usefulness. I really like that concept, thank you for sharing it with me. I can definitely meditate on it.

      Hope you are having a great weekend my friend. Always so nice to see you here 🙂

  22. Hi Ceil! Wow, this post hit a tender spot. Because of the hurt I had to deal with in my last church, becoming involved in my new church has been somewhat intimidating for me. After searching for a couple of months for a new church home, I visited a church and the first message I heard was titled “Welcome Home”. I don’t think it was a coincidence. However, in the back of my mind, I believe I’m still “trying” the church out before I become involved in serving, although I’ve been there since December. As your post mentioned, I need to de-fence to open my heart to receive and to give again. I have to learn to trust again. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Hi Marilyn! I don’t think we can ever underestimate how hard it is to jump a fence. Or even be led out of the door! As I wrote, I am no stranger to fence building. It’s safe in there.

      I know you’ll be fine. You were created for community Marilyn, and you wouldn’t have moved to a new one unless you really wanted that. Be patient with yourself. It will come. God will allow someone or something to open that door for you.

      Thank you for your honest comment. I appreciate you sharing your heart!

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