Note: I wrote this story in the early 90’s. It is as relevant, now, as then. Today, is hard. So, pausing, a bit, to share some stories, written, for you, long before you heard of Jaybird:
This is a story about the human heart and its cry for love. Its cry to be heard. Its cry to be seen. Its cry to be received. It’s a typical heart and a typical cry. We’ve all heard this cry. Not from other hearts but from our own. Can you see past my walls? Can you see me? Listen closely and you will hear your heart speak. Pay close attention and you will hear the same cry from the one closest to you. You’ll hear the same cry from your neighbor. You’ll hear the same cry from your closest friend. You can even hear it from an enemy. Listen closely and you’ll hear…..
Can You See Me Past My Walls?
Can You see me past my walls? Can you see the goodness that God has placed inside? Will I always need these walls to survive? Will there ever come the day where I can relax and be me? Will there always be this struggle to be seen, heard, loved, and understood?
These walls have been with me so long that it is almost to difficult to imagine them being gone. They go with me everywhere that I go. They are my constant companions. Why, they are almost a friend.
Where did they come from, you might ask? They’ve been with me so long that I’d almost forgotten how they got there. They started out innocently enough. One brick here, one brick there. Before you know it there is a fortress mightier than Fort Knox. And just as impenetrable. What started out as protection is now my prison with no means of parole or escape.
How do you get away from walls of your own making? Where do you run? Who do you turn to when your walls were built to keep everyone out? You thought you were keeping pain out but all you’ve managed to do is to turn that pain in on yourself. The killer is that no one knows and no one sees. No one hears your silent screams of frustration and pain. ” I’m in Here!” you scream in agony but no one sees. This is the kicker for this is the way you designed your walls in the beginning.
Ah, the beginning. Back when you had the option to choose who could come and who could stay behind your walls. Back then, you knew who you were protecting yourself from and why. Yes, each brick has its own special meaning and significance. You go through them one by one recalling the hateful words, the rejection, the humiliation, and the utter devastation that came from never being seen for the person that God created you to be.
So up came the walls. Brick by brick, stone by stone, layer upon precious layer. Until one day you could no longer see the sunlight. All that was left were shadows and cynicism. You stopped trusting everyone. To you, everyone was a potential enemy. No one could be trusted. Your haven became an armed camped. You made a pact with yourself that nothing, and no one was going to hurt you ever again. The beautiful thing about that pact was that it worked. No one got in to hurt you. The ugly thing about your pact was that it worked. No one could get in to love you.
You began to question your own judgments. There came a day where you refused to trust your own heart. You wouldn’t, couldn’t listen anymore. The pain was too great. You determined that the only means of survival was to decorate your prison and make the best of it. So you spend years decorating the outside of those prison walls. You do such an outstanding job that you are lauded for your bravery in erecting a facade that others can emulate and look up to.
You laugh a cynical laugh. They believe that you have ” got it all together”. They marvel at your apparently calm demeanor. They feel insecure because you seem to smile with ease and interact with all that come into your path. They stop short of seeing past your walls because that is how you planned it to be. Pain becomes your best friend. Pain is all you know. Pain is all you have. At least you can trust it to be there for you. You’ve gotten so good at this facade that even you have stopped noticing the blood dripping from your bleeding heart.
So you learn to live and love behind those prison walls. You eat, drink, work, and play all behind those walls. You get so used to holding yourself at arm’s length that you have forgotten what it was like to held so close that you can feel it way down on your insides. You smile on the outside but on the insides, you die a slow death every day.
Day turns into months. Months turn into years. After a while your walls begin to seem to be getting higher and higher. The higher they grow, the more dejected you feel. You become surprised by these developments because the opposite should have occurred. You should be happy. You are “safe” from all possibility of rejection by man. You are your own person. You work. You have acquaintances. Why, things should be going smoothly.
But what is this? You find that there is an ache deep inside you for love and companionship. There is a heaviness and void that just won’t disappear. You try all manner of things. You try relationships but you find that everyone else has walls too! You want to scream for them to tear theirs down so that you’ll have the freedom to get rid of yours. But no one seems to hear you. Everyone is too intent on building, and protecting their own walls. You look around to see them everywhere. Walls, walls everywhere. You can’t get away from them. You try to scale their walls but find that your own gets in your way.
You try to communicate through them but the isolation surrounding them are just too thick. You look closely at the walls that you’ve spent years building and grow sick inside. You realize all the years you’ve wasted. And for what? Your walls are covered with regrets: of lost relationships, of lost loves, of lost opportunities.
Opportunity. That word both sickens and frightens you. So many chances. All gone. Never to return again. Hopelessness. That one word sums up your plight. You’ve lived so long inside these walls you don’t know how to live in “free” society. You go around faking it thinking that opportunity will never knock for you again.
You grow up to be an adult to find that your walls have grown with you. You take them everywhere with you. On your job, in your home. Everywhere. Why most even marry with their walls. It’s sad to say that most marry that way but they do. They’ve given up hope on ever breaking free and both parties make a silent pact to ignore the other’s walls.
Walls. They are everywhere. You are tired of yours and tired of everyone else’s. You determine to be the first to break free and make an attempt to live a full and happy life. You venture forth from behind your walls only to be slapped in the face by the cool winds of indifference. You look around in amazement to see that no one else is willing to make the attempt to loosen even a brick in their fortress.
“It’s easier living this way”, they deride you. “Why try? Why waste the effort? You’re bound for disappointments”. Everywhere you go you are faced with man’s logic. You grow desperate and determined that you won’t live your life this way and you are bound and determined to find others who feel the same way that you do.
You try and you try, and hope turns into disappointment. Disappointment turns into discouragement. Discouragement turns into hopelessness. “Can you see me past my walls?” is your heart’s constant cry. “Can you see me past my walls”? Over time the question begins to first haunt you and then anger you. Haunt you because it is a question that you can never run from for it is ever before you. Anger you because the question carries bushels of pain and tears. You want to cry but don’t know who for. Them or you? Them because they are missing the opportunity to be loved by you. You because you are missing out on the opportunity to be seen, heard, loved and respected.
Can you see me past my walls? Can you hear my silent screams? Do you even care? DO YOU EVEN CARE? That question is the killer for It is the very reason you erected your walls in the first place. Does he care? Does she care? Am I worthwhile? If I died would anyone grieve for me? Is there anything inside me worth grieving for? You decide that the answer is probably no and so up goes the walls. But with every brick is the desperate hope that somebody would see you. Maybe somebody will come and take that brick from your hand. Maybe they will see the beauty and strength that lies inside you. You certainly can’t see it.
Maybe. That word is a painful one. Maybe. That one word keeps hope alive which is something that you desperately try to keep from happening. Hoping brings feelings. Painful feelings. Maybe. Maybe he will love me or maybe she will want me. Maybe, someday, somewhere, somehow, someone will see me. Maybe, one day they will see. See that I exist. See that I matter. See that I count. MAYBE SOMEONE WILL SEE ME. And if they see me, then that must mean that I exist.
Existence. The very word sets off anger in me. Why? Because I’ve fought for my right to “exist” my whole life. “I AM HERE”, I rage behind my walls. Don’t ignore me. Don’t hide from me. I exist. God made me. I am here for a purpose. Just because it’s not your purpose does not negate my existence. Just because it is not the purpose that you had planned for me does not erase my existence. Don’t erase me from this world because I am not quote-unquote “famous”. Don’t erase me from this world because I don’t possess millions of dollars. Don’t erase me from this world because I don’t possess Cover Girl beauty. Look and see. Look past my walls. Can you see me past my walls? Am I worth the time it would take for you to look inside and see what’s there?
Worth. Worth. What a word. Five letters that have caused more pain than all the wars combined. That one word symbolizes so many things. That one word has caused so many to hide forever behind their walls. We are afraid to ask how much we are “worth”. We are afraid to find out if our value is contingent upon what we do or don’t do, on what we have or don’t have. We are so afraid to find out our actual worth so we attempt to “bargain” with people and come bearing gifts. Gifts of talent. Gifts of monetary value. Gifts of prestige and position. Gifts of physical beauty. We are afraid to come empty handed for most of us feel that we will never be received unless we bring our worth with us.
What a pity. What a shame. Every day, millions of people die and are buried behind their walls never having lived. Never having loved. Never having had their love calculated. And the tragedy about that is that they missed the entire point of living. Living is the priceless thing. Life is priceless. All life. Rich or poor. Young or old. All are priceless. But grieve not for those who died behind their walls. The true tragedy is for us that remain living. For we don’t truly live. We survive. We go through the motions.
Going through the motions. Its what we all do isn’t it? We applaud survival. We root for the underdog. We champion the champion. And all behind our walls. Can you see me past my walls? Do you see me running in a race that I can never finish? You can stop me. All it takes is one look. One look. One word. Just call my name.
My name. Something so small. Something so enormous. We are all so starved for love and attention behind our walls that one call of our names can cause an avalanche around our heart. Call my name. Someone call out my name. But no one hears. Dejected, I bend again to retrieve another brick that I place upon my walls. I build until my hands bleed. I build until I can no longer feel anymore. Sure, the questions are still there but all I feel now is apathy. There is no hope for me. It is too late for me. Leave me behind my walls. There is nothing left to give. There is nothing left of me.
But wait, what is this? Someone is knocking upon the walls of my heart! “Go away”, I yell in torment. “Leave me here to die. I don’t need you now. Where were you when I cried out for you? Where were you when I cried myself to sleep that night? Where were you when I was told how worthless I was? Where were you when I needed someone to believe in? Where were you when I needed someone to believe in me!”
Leave me behind my walls, you scream. You don’t look to see who is out there. You don’t even care to look. It’s too painful. You drown out the knocking on your heart and throw yourself into “living”. You tell yourself that you only have one life and you intend to live it up. You grab a hold of whatever vice is hip these days and you live it up. Maybe you drink yourself to death. Maybe you eat yourself to death. Maybe you drown yourself in your work. Maybe you drown yourself in sex. Whatever. No matter. Anything goes as long as it quiets the gentle knocking going on outside your walls.
You think that the party knocking outside will go away but they don’t. You find that they have taken residence outside your walls and is content to sit quietly waiting for you to make the first move.
Day turns into day. Year turns into years and still the party is waiting on the outside of your walls patiently waiting to come in. In fact, the party is there so long that they have become a fixture in your life. You’ve gotten used to them being out there. You start to feel safe and couldn’t imagine what life would be like if you didn’t have that stranger sitting on the outside of your walls. Waiting. Silently waiting. One day, you awaken to find that the stranger had slipped a letter of introduction under your door. You look at it in suspicion, hesitant to pick it up and read it.
You don’t trust it or yourself so you leave it just sitting there with curiosity eating away at you. You grow angry with yourself because you don’t want to start that hope nonsense again. You’ve grown cold on the inside and that is the easiest way to keep it you tell yourself. But the funny thing about that letter is that it begins to thaw out that coldness that had grown around your heart. In desperation, you grab the letter and attempt to force it back underneath your door. But you find that you can’t turn it loose. You look for a candle to read by but find that you have no lights around anywhere. You’d gotten used to living your life in the dark.
But strangely, you find that this letter has a glow of its own. You open it to find words that will shock you to your very core. The words were these:
I’ve spent many years waiting to introduce myself to you. You’ll never know the many times that I’ve had to restrain Myself from breaking down your walls. I could have easily done so but that would have been to your detriment. You have needed them. To you, they have kept you alive. They have kept you going. And for now that is all that was necessary. But the time has come for Me to let you know that you have been heard from the beginning. I have seen ever tear, and I have heard every cry. I have made many attempts to get to know you over the years but so many have given me a bad name that I have found it difficult getting past your walls.
If you have not guessed by now let me introduce Myself to you. My name is Jesus. I was there when your parents gave birth to you. I have walked protectively nearby your whole life. I was there when you picked up your first brick and I was there when you laid your last. I’ve cried more tears for you then you could even begin to imagine. I cry for you now even as I write this. I cry that I have to try to convince you of your worth. I cry that you can’t see it. I cry that the world has not seen it.
Dear One, I long to be your friend. The world has many idiotic notions about me. Most have not the slightest grain of truth to them. The sad fact is that most people are so afraid to get to know Me that they rely on the misinformation of others. I laugh at the notion that I gave up My life to be judge and jury over people. Why would I want to? I am angered by those who water down My gospel and turn it into a browbeating guilt session.
Dear One, I came to rescue you from your walls. I died to give you the freedom to live and love fully without torment, without fear, without having to jump through hoops to be accepted. I found you to be so priceless that I gave up My life to buy yours. How much more valuable can you get? Dear One, listen not to a cynical world that says all hope is lost. Listen not to those who would tell you that to love fully and openly is foolishness. Stay away from those who would try to convince you that you need great sums of money, great stores of beauty, or prestige or position. You need none of these things.
Dear One, I wait outside your walls to give you but one thing: My love. That is all you need. It is your key to freedom. Dear Heart, I can’t wait to get to know you. You and I are going to be the best of friends. I don’t know why people are so shocked to learn that I love and need them as much as they need me. Why don’t they understand that I have a heart to? I feel pain. I feel loneliness. I feel rejection. But alas, that is another letter. For now I just wanted to introduce Myself to you and give you the opportunity to get to know Me. Take your time. I’ll be here waiting.
P.S. I’m waiting anxiously to hear from you!
Balling up the letter in frustration, you launch into a tirade about God. You rail that if He were real and if He did care, then where had He been all this time? Why did He allow all the suffering that you’d gone through? You decide that you can get along just fine on your own, thank you very much.
But the damage has already been done. You begin to thaw and resent it. Your heart has been too badly damaged for you to even contemplate love again. But there goes that nagging ache in your heart again. “Can you see me past my walls?” in frustration, you ignore the words and try to go on with surviving. You decide that it’s better to survive. You determine that true living is lived in fairy tales and million dollar movies. You shove your letter into the bottom of a seldom-used drawer and continue your masquerade.
But little do you know that your life is of such infinite value that your silent friend has taken up a life-long vigil outside the door to your heart. Day after day, your silent friend slips notes under your door, quietly waiting for you to respond to one. He sends friends, situations, trials, and triumphs to leave notes under the door but you don’t respond:
Just a note to say I love you. How have you been?
I created a rainbow just for you today to let you know that I was thinking about you. Did you see it? Take care.
I was talking to Dad about you. I’d kind of gotten a little dejected because you haven’t responded to Me but Dad told Me not to give up on you. He told Me to love all your hurt away. I told Him that I wasn’t going anywhere but it hurts all the same that you won’t talk to me. How come?
Today I created a spectacular sunset for you. I noticed that you rushed right by and didn’t see. Look outside tomorrow and I’ll make a beautiful sunrise for you.
I’m sorry about what happened this morning. You looked so lost that I had to hold you. I gave your friend the key to your fortress and had them give you a hug for me. I didn’t mean to make you cry that way. I’d forgotten how powerful a hug given in love can be. I wish you’d let Me hug you all the time. Boy, you sure built that wall twice as thick after that hug. No matter. I’ll still be here waiting.
To your astonishment, you find that each note has removed a brick from your walls. More amazing still, you find that you want those bricks removed. You attempt to help but you find that the weight too heavy to bear. You look at the millions of bricks and grow discouraged. “You’ll never be free”, you sigh to yourself. You’ll never be whole. You grieve deep within yourself and attempt to go on with life as usual but now that you have seen a glimpse of the sunshine, you find that you can never again be satisfied with the darkness.
At your darkest moment, you look down to see a note shoved under your walls. This one is special for it holds a golden key. The note is a simple one. It says:
Remember that you have the key. Use it and I will come for you. I will come and together we will tear down your walls. Trust Me.
P.S. I know its hard to trust when you’ve spent your whole life afraid to do just that. But your freedom lies in trusting someone other than yourself. We were not made to be alone. We were made for each other. To love with. To laugh with. To share with. To walk alongside one another. I’m waiting for you.
You find that this note begins an avalanche in your heart. Hope returns with a vengeance. But with hope also comes fear. It had been easy for you to make excuses and stay behind your walls. It’s lonely there but at least you feel “safe”. If you come out, you’ll have to deal with feelings and relationships. You’ll have to trust again. You’ll have to give your heart the opportunity to learn love again. But with that opportunity comes the chances of being hurt again.
But what are your options? You hurt anyway. Your pain is ever with you. It is ever present. It follows you on the job. It goes with you with every promotion. It follows you when you drink. It follows you when you enter that restaurant. It goes with you in the nightclub. Your diversions don’t work. They only make your pain endurable. At least you lie and tell yourself that.
With halting steps, you reach over and grab hold of the key. Instantaneously, He is there beside you. Now He is on the inside of your walls. To your bewilderment, He seems awfully familiar to you. You wonder how that can be as you’ve spent your whole life alone and yet He seems so familiar. You ask Him about it and this is what He tells you:
Haven’t you guessed by now? What you felt as pain was My gentle knocking on your heart. What you felt as emptiness was My tender prodding of your spirit. No one sees a doctor until the pain is greater than his determination to bear with it. Humans are a silly lot. They’d rather bury their pain or try to ignore it. They’d rather mask their pain with things that lead to greater sources of pain. They rationalize that at least they are in control of whatever pain they are currently inflicting on themselves. Worse yet, they contend that they are only “hurting themselves” as if this should make things okay with me. What they would not dream of doing to an enemy, they have no problems justifying doing to themselves.
Dear One, I’ve come to you so that you might help Me rescue others from their prisons. I saw your attempts to reach out to others and was glad that you did so. I knew that your quest would end in defeat, as you cannot love others or help them break out of their walls apart from me. This is so because one must first admit that they are there. Humans have another funny quirk called denial. It’s too painful to admit that you have walls. If you admit them, then you must deal with the reasons that you put them there in the first place. Most lack the courage or commitment to do that. They are easily discouraged. They feel that they somehow “deserve” their prisons. I am telling this to you, dear one, so that you will know what to do the next time you see someone’s walls.
Don’t do as most do and ignore them. It is painfully easy to do so. People keep their fortresses so elaborately decorated or so awesomely fortified that it is easy to get intimidated and run away. Don’t leave them behind their walls, dear one. Don’t leave them behind their walls. Can you see them past their walls? Who do you think placed that question into men’s hearts? I did. I had to or they would never set in motion the steps necessary to be free of them. I placed that question in you. Come, dear one, let us remove you from your walls so that you can be free to love and be loved as you were made to.
From that time on we went about the business of destroying my walls. This was a painful but joyous time. For Jesus was with me the whole time. We laughed together. We cried together. We went over each brick and discussed what had erected it in the first place. I found that the tears were healing not only my heart but was fusing me to my best friend, Jesus. For it was at the toughest moments that He held me the tightest.
On the days when my hands were too sore and too bloody to handle another brick, He was there to wash them and He, Himself rubbed soothing oil into the palms. Once as He did this, I noticed faint scars in the palms of His hands. I cried as I realize that He actually died as He said He had. I believed like many others that the story was just a nice story to tell at Christmastime. The story( up ‘til now) had little significance or impact upon my life. I took both His hands in mine and kissed them. ” Thank you”, I said. He understood what I meant.
It took quite a while to remove most of my bricks. I say most because being human I fight to keep the walls down but it’s never easy. But the good news is that when I do, I hear knocking on the walls of my heart. Better still I hear my best friend say: “I see you past your walls”.
Today, I am on a mission. A mission to free as many as I can. I know what it’s like to be locked behind walls. Now, I know what its like to know freedom. Now I know what it’s like to see the sunshine. My best friend has taught me how to free others. I’ll tell you what He told me the day that my last brick came tumbling down:
Today is a day of great rejoicing. For Me, because we can now be one. For you, because you can now live and grow as you were meant to. But, dear one, I have a special charge for you. I need you to be a friend to others for Me. I need you to go into places where I am not yet allowed. I need you to see past walls into the hurting hearts of men and women. Pay no attention to their outside walls. They only camouflage what lies deep inside. Listen closely and you’ll hear. Listen closely and you will hear. Look. Look closely at that one over there. See her smiling? Look into her eyes. They don’t smile. Look into her eyes and see her walls. Can you hear?
Love My people. As much as you are allowed to, Love my people. Pay no attention when they react from hurt or fear. Love them anyway. Man hides behind walls not out of choice but because they believe that they have no choice. They eat, drink, sleep, worship, live, and die behind those walls. Help Me, dear one. Help Me reach them past their walls. Pay no attention to how they dress, or how much money they have. Walls know no distinction. Walls affects every man, woman, and child alive. Can you see them past their walls? Do you choose to? It is a choice, dear one, it is a choice.
We choose every day to see past walls or to walk away. People are dying, dear one, people are dying. I need you to help them. Go to them and look past their walls. I go with you.
All My Love,
So it is with this mission in mind that I listen. I listen and I hear, “Can you see me past my walls? Can you see the goodness that God has placed inside? Will I always need these walls to survive? Will there ever come the day where I can relax and be me? Will there always be this eternal struggle to be seen, heard, loved, and understood?”
To all those questions, I say: Yes, I can see you past your walls. You’re beautiful. You are priceless. Your life was created for a purpose. You deserve to love and be loved. You can come from behind your walls. You CAN walk out into the sunshine. But you need a friend to walk beside you. You need a friend that will love you when you can not love yourself. You need a friend to believe you when you can’t believe in yourself. He is waiting for you. He is waiting to love you past your walls. You need not come bearing gifts. The only thing needed is you. You are priceless, dear one, you are priceless. There is a beauty trapped inside you that can only be freed as you take the chance to trust again. Listen. Listen closely and you will hear a gentle calling of your name. Listen closely, and you will hear the Master say: “I can see you past your walls!”