Walls have profound historical significance. The Great Wall of China, the Berlin Wall, the Southern Border Wall, the list goes on. Oppression, exclusion, protection, separation, classification. What profound significance for a barrier to possess. The concept provides imagery for the masses. We all have walls in our lives, some physical some metaphorical, some both.
We put up walls in our lives everywhere. Some walls are meant to keep people out, some walls are meant to keep things in. The tricky situation occurs when we put our hope in these walls. The paralyzing fear of stepping out from the safety of our wall leaves us stuck. The wall of familiar people keeps us from venturing out and meeting new ones. The wall of familiar cities, familiar restaurants, familiar streets keep us from venturing beyond. The safety we feel behind our walls, the comfort of familiar people, safety and predictability, of “the people I want are here and the things I am uncertain of are out there”, it is a crippling mentality keeping us from living our lives with the intent our creator placed within us.
My compound in Uganda has a great big wall surrounding it, with spikes and barb wire atop. “Stay out” says my wall, if walls could talk. And yet my wall has a gate, a point of entry so I do not in fact have to scale the wall any time I would like to come and go. The wall provides comfort, the gate provides access to that comfort. A guard sits inside the gate, keeping it locked, opening it up when he hears us coming or hears a car approaching. The comfort of the wall helps me sleep at night. But it’s not an impenetrable wall, if someone wanted to get in, they could. If someone thought it was worth it to scale the wall, they could. The disparity some people possess in this extremely impoverished country can lead people to extreme measures. So how do I sleep at night knowing this?
I am not relying on the wall to keep me safe. I am aware of the capabilities of really bad people. To place my hope in a wall would eventually lead me to disappointment. But also, to put all my hope in the wall would remove all confidence I have in going beyond the comfort of the wall. If I thought a wall was the only thing that could keep me safe, why would I ever venture beyond its safety?
My childhood home in Texas is in a neighborhood with a big wall surrounding it. It does not have barb wire atop or a guard inside the gate, in fact almost all the neighborhoods in my hometown have walls around them. I would consider them status symbol walls, they give us comfort and we sleep in peace at night knowing that all the homes inside the wall cost about the same and therefore we are surrounded by like-minded hard-working individuals who value nice things and taking good care of their property. I sleep in peace at night within my wall in my hometown knowing that the other people inside the wall are not likely to break in because they don’t need my things, they have things of their own—in fact I am quite jealous of their things sometimes. Their fancy cars and beautifully trimmed landscaping.
I would have to admit that upon comparison of all the walls I have ever lived inside, I prefer my wall in Uganda. My wall in Uganda is a constant reminder that walls, physical and metaphorical are not what we should be putting our trust and faith in. I should not be putting my trust in my “wall of friends” which provides me security from awkward social encounters and the work required in meeting new people. I should not be putting my trust in my “wall of money” (although a very small wall) which provides security like food to eat and shelter over my head. The walls we build trick us into believing that we are capable on our own, that we can provide our own security, that we can provide our own energy, and that we can provide our own comfort.
Where do you have walls in your life? Walls around the heart, keeping out any invaders human or spiritual? Walls around your notion of normal or your notion of comfort? Keeping you in and others out?
And this is the part of the story where I suggest we tear down those walls, that we take a massive metaphorical sledgehammer to the whole notion-- but alas, that is not what I am suggesting here. There is no sense in tearing down physical walls if we know that our human tendencies will immediately replace them with emotional or mental walls. There is no sense force you to get rid of your “wall of friends” or your “wall of money” but rather, lets practice the art of remembering. Remembering that the walls we build are not actually what keep us safe, financially secure or socially relevant. For that we must put our faith and hope in something greater. To the creator of humankind who sees us and all of our wall building desires and reminds us that He is the only one able to keep us truly safe. Remind yourself friends, because our walls often make us forgetful.
And one day when our walls fail us (as they all surely will at some point) if we have reminded ourselves enough times of the truth, then we will not despair and we will not lose hope. If we place our hope in a wall, then all hope will crumble when an invader comes in the night. But if we place our hope in the creator, the ultimate protector, provider and sustainer, then our hope will withstand invaders. Walls may crumble but our hope doesn’t have to.
APRIL 24th UPDATE:
I am sorry for the slow posting. I actually have a handful of stories in the works at the moment, some which are just waiting for approvals from IJM, etc. to be posted. So stay tuned, I even have my own banana bread recipe coming soon. Waiting on one more round of recipe testing this week, its going to be delicious!
I arrived back in Uganda from my trip to the States late last night. I am so thankful for safe travels (and that all my bags made it with me). Thank you everyone who donated items for me to bring back! It is such a blessing and a relief to know I am stocked up for the rest of my time here. My trip home was amazing, and I was reminded over and over of God’s loving kindness.
I was very sad to say goodbye to my people in the States but from the moment I left Uganda I was missing my life here. If only I could move all my people here with me!
Thank you for all of your prayers for safe travels and for a smooth adjustment as I was thrown back into American culture. I am thankful that this was not my first experience coming back to the States from a developing country, because it can often be a very hard transition, This past visit I luckily did not struggle with the transition as much and I was really able to enjoy my time at home.
These next couple of months are going to be financially very tight. There may be some BIG changes on the horizon and I will keep you all updated as much as I can. Please be praying that more fundraising comes through, particularly scholarships which I have applied for. I know God will provide, and He provides through the hands of people like you! I am so thankful for that!
Days left in the Field: 234