Hurt By Someone? Build a Fence, Not a Fortress

By Mary DeMuth Published on May 4, 2016

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 maybe 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 in any event is a big, chunky, tall wall, a fortress of protection around your broken heart. For a time, this wall feels absolutely necessary to you. It serves you well. Inside the fortress, you don’t have to hear the painful words of your friend, your frenemy, your lover, your child. As long as you don’t engage with the world you can be happy. For a while.

But 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 us from real life lived alongside others.

You may worry if you demolish the wall that the people who have hurt you before will overrun you, kicking over the furniture in your heart and taking advantage of the most precious parts of you. You’ll mention Proverbs 4:23, especially the way it says it in the NIV: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

So is it true? 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” who is worthy of protection. It helps keep out fools and sociopaths and takers. Since there’s a gate, though, you can welcome those who need you most (and whom you most need): safe people, friends and 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. That’s why I wrote The Wall Around Your Heart.

I still fortress my heart at times. I still hide behind its safety. 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,



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