“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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