The Difference Between Fences and Fortresses

Oct 16, 2013Find joy today, Heal from the past


Dear _________ (put your name here),

I’m sorry someone hurt you. I know it hurts. If you’re like me, you may re-hash the pain, wondering how to resolve the problem, or you blame yourself for making a misstep, or you bang your head against the wall because you could’ve done better, or you place the blame solely on the shoulders of the one who hurt you.

What results is a big, chunky, tall wall. A fortress of protection around your broken heart. For a time, this wall felt absolutely necessary to you. And it served you well. Inside the fortress, you didn’t have to hear the painful words of your friend, your frenemy, your lover, your child. As long as you didn’t engage with the big, bad world, you could be happy.

Except that God knows we’re happiest, most joyful when we live in community, loving and being loved. A fortress prevents both pain AND joy. A fortress isolates. A fortress removes you from real life lived alongside others.

You may be afraid because you worry if you demolish the wall that the meanies in your life will overrun you, kicking over the furniture in your heart, taking advantage of the most precious parts of you. You’ll remind me of Proverbs 4:23. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

If you tear down that wall, won’t you let bullies overtake you?

Not if you build a fence. With a gate. And a key.

A fence is a friendly reminder to everyone that you have your own yard, your own soul, your own “you” that’s worthy of protection. It helps keep out fools and sociopaths and takers. But because there’s a gate, you can welcome those who need you post (and who you most need): safe people, friends, sweet family.

That’s the difference between a fortress and a fence. I pray you’ll discern the difference, let God tear down the fortress–a hyper-self-protective life, and erect a white picket fence with an arbored gate. My prayer is that you’ll experience the joy of living openhearted. It’s why I wrote The Wall Around Your Heart.

I still fortress my heart. I still hide behind its safet

y. I’m with you. But I’ve experienced enough openhearted living to know it’s a better way to live.

Daring (trying!) to live openhearted,


P.S. Watch the Wall Around Your Heart book trailer here (click image):