In Holland, they build their houses out of bricks. They are beautifully and carefully constructed to last a very long time - the brick makes them quite indestructible.
Throughout my life, I have had multiple long lengths and seasons in which people have been unusually mean-spirited and cruel to me. I do not state this to play the victim, I state it as a truth that I have had to come to terms with for a very long time. People have said their fair share of unkind things to my face, and even more cruel things behind my back. If you don’t believe me, ask my family. They know my story. They would tell you.
I have worked for many years to sort through it all and combat the lies - and this summer I have had to break open some things that nobody likes to break open. I have had to dig up and sort through the reality that I make it very difficult for people to get close to me - to be my friend, to love me, and to allow me to be vulnerable with them. I have had to take a long look at the questions...Why do I do this? What is the root cause? And how can I change it?
This summer showed me well...it is because of the bricks. I look at the pretty houses in Holland and I know it and I say it to myself...Emily, it’s because of the bricks.
That little metal triangle-with-a-handle thing people use to lay bricks is called a brick trowel. It picks up the mortar to lay down the bricks. And we all have one of our own. Its purpose is to lay bricks carefully around our hearts so that people cannot get in close enough to hurt us again. Its purpose is to keep people from entering our vulnerable places, so the chance of them saying cruel things is nearly abated, so they do not even get an opportunity to betray us. Maybe you know about this. Perhaps you have been hurt badly in your life, maybe once, twice, or many times, and you’ve begun to lay bricks, too. You have placed them, stacking them higher and higher, each time someone takes a swing at your character, at your beauty, at your talent, at your worth. It is very easy to build such a fortress - but this barrier ultimately hurts others, and hurts us too.
The thing about these tools is that my brick trowel is always there, ready to be used. For a long time when things were really bad, I always had it in my hand. I always had wet mortar, ready to go, ready to stack and create impenetrable walls as the cruelty of others never seemed to subside. The only currency needed to pay the bricklayers in my heart was malicious words and hurtful actions that were said to my face or came my way. People have paid the bricklayers time and time again and they diligently and faithfully build the walls higher and higher when they are paid to do so...and they have built the walls high.
It is very easy to lay the bricks, but it is backbreaking work to take a brick wall down. It involves all sorts of heavy duty tools - you must use things like wrecking bars and sledgehammers. It is not pretty work and it is not effortless work. And it is the necessary work that those of us who have been hurt and have built must enter into. It is the work that, if we wish to live bountiful lives of community and friendship, must be done.
The beautiful news is that God is better at using a sledgehammer than we are. He will use his power and might to help me tear down the walls - and He wants to. You and I, we only have to let Him.