Sometimes breakthrough is a process. The woodpecker doesn’t stop to worry about what the other birds think about them, it just does what it is designed to do. ~ Sammy Robinson
When I read this quote in the blog of my friend, Elizabeth Horbelt,* the words reminded me of one of my breakthroughs during a writing conference in 2004. Because I cared so much what people thought of me, I had unconsciously built an invisible wall to protect myself from possible rejection. God was about to disclose the results of my decision.
On the first evening, the conference keynote speaker said, “Breakthrough to the next level comes only through brokenness.” He grabbed my attention immediately.
“Not your efforts, but brokenness, helps you get through to a new level,” the speaker continued. “God will hit where we have built walls that keep Him at a distance. We all build walls. Sometimes God shoots a customized arrow into our hearts to wake us up.”
While absorbing this declaration, I felt intense pain in my chest. With it came a sense that God had pierced my heart and said, “Your wall is keeping you at a distance from Me.”
The thought that I had hurt the heart of God became unbearable. I had no idea I’d built an emotional wall of protection around my heart.
As soon as the speaker finished, I hurried from the session to seek aloneness in my quiet hotel room. As I knelt and buried my head in my hands, tears seeped through my fingers.
“God, I didn’t know anything stood between You and me.”
He revealed I had constructed a wall out of my fear of what people would think about me. That wall had become my emotional protection. My wall also blocked me from absorbing the truth that God loves me, accepts me, protects me, and delights in me. I confessed my actions as sin against God. My sorrow lifted when I opened myself to receive His promised forgiveness.
During those moments of brokenness, the source of my fear became clear. I reached for my notebook to record my thoughts.
Soon I’d sketched the outline of a wall. In the empty boxes that formed the foundation, I added words that came to my mind: “childhood patterns,” “defense mechanisms,” and “family expectations.”
On each brick, I wrote an internal struggle that held me captive and governed my involuntary responses to people: fear of failure, fear of disappointing others, fear of not measuring up, need for approval, need for acceptance.
Author Paul Richardson explains more about our walls in his book A Certain Risk,
In response to our most unforgettable heartaches, many of us have closed ourselves off, locked our hearts behind unassailable walls, and
hidden away the key. . . .
He is showing me that the greatest barriers to his artistry in and through my life are not physical dangers. The real barriers are my own conjured fears. These fears are phony castle walls I’ve constructed around me.
During my conversation with God in my hotel room that day, I received courage to emotionally let the bricks of my castle walls crumble. Nothing stood between God and me anymore.
My unexpected breakthrough to the next level came through brokenness, just as the speaker explained. Once my wall was gone, I began relating to people in an open and authentic way without holding back from sharing about my personal life.
I'm looking forward to my continuing journey on God's path of freedom where I'm becoming more and more the person God designed me to be. **
Have you built an emotional wall of protection around yourself? What factors might have led you to construct your foundation and lay bricks on top? God is waiting to show you how to experience a life of freedom outside your wall.
* Link to Elizabeth Horbelt’s May 17 blog: "Designed for Breakthrough."
** Some of the content in this blog is adapted from pages 31-34 of my book, *Will the Real Person Please Stand Up: Rising Upon the Fear of Rejection,* and is used by permission.
Link to order your own copy.