Friday, January 6, 2012

Tear Down That Wall

Someone on social media asked people to share the most important or valuable lesson they have learned in their lifetime.  This was my answer:
"I've learned many valuable lessons, but the one that hits me right now is that building brick walls around myself doesn't protect me; it makes me lonely. Every brick I tear down lets love trickle inside my circle. If I tear down enough bricks, the dam breaks and I'm swallowed in love."
My whole life I've been told how "tough" I am and that I am "rough around the edges."  Those who really know me understand the fallacy in those statements.  I'm not tough at all; just scared. Fear has always permeated my existence.  Fear of acceptance, mostly.  I was not accepted by my peers as a child, and I was a "square" as a teenager.  So I built a wall.  I built a wall so thick, tall, and strong that seemingly nothing could penetrate it.  Then my husband came along.  Danny is nothing if not persistent.  After he proposed to me, I gave him the ring back three times.  Try as I might, I couldn't shake him.  He was like a pit bull after the kill -- except he had a gentle heart.  By the time we were married, I'd dropped a few bricks.

Children came along, and many more bricks were dropped.  I loved those babies.  As they got older, they had needs.  They needed a Camp Fire leader.  They needed someone on the candy committee and other committees.  They needed an area candy chair.  This was way out of my comfort zone, but I dropped more bricks in order to meet their needs.  As bricks fell and broke, I found love and friendship with people I dealt with in Camp Fire.

Lovely little children grew into teenagers who seemed to instinctively know where all the old wounds were.  Bricks began to build again.  One at a time they went up.  This time the wall was higher and fortified.  Guards were placed at all gateways.  No one was ever going to hurt me again -- or so I thought.

A difficult "calling" came in church.  The Bishop called me to be Relief Society President (head of the women's organization) for the congregation.  I was stunned.  I spent the first year trying to do the job with the wall still in place.  It didn't work.  The next 2 1/2 years, the wall began to come down again, one little brick at a time.  I learned to love the sisters I served -- something I never thought would happen because I've always worked much better with men than with women.

I was released from that calling a little more than a year ago.  I removed myself from everyone I had been dealing with and buried my head in the sand.  The wall was mostly down, and I felt vulnerable.  If I hid myself away, maybe I wouldn't get hurt.  Hurt comes from lots of sources.  It came.

This time I discovered something.  Hurt is a part of life.  It's unavoidable.  I finally understand that love sometimes hurts.  I'm trying to keep the wall down.  It's not easy.  When the pain comes, I want to go right back out there and build those bricks. Then I remember those little moments of love when the wall fell.

So I'm trying.  Be patient with me.  Be kind.  I'm not the tough guy everyone thinks I am.  On the contrary, I break easily.  This was not an easy blog post to write.  I'm vulnerable.  The wall is down.


  1. Thank you so much for this post. Your generously shared perspective has been more helpful than I can easily express.

    1. I'm glad it helped, Donna. This was not an easy one to write.