Those unseen walls

Long before the Savior dwelled on the earth, physical walls were erected to fortify cities. Early on, the chroniclers of the Old Testament made reference to walls in such scriptural passages as Deut. 3:5: "All these cities were fenced with high walls, gates and bars; . . ."

Physical walls have long been a part of history; in many instances, they were a way of protection, but perhaps in equally as many instances, a way of enslavement or confinement. Some walls prevent outsiders from coming in, others prevent those inside from going out.Most of us, to some degree, have been affected in one way or another by the building of physical walls. Perhaps we've studied about or visited the wall around the Old City of Jerusalem or the Great Wall of China, which many have walked along its broad top. And, surely, we all were incensed by the erecting of the Berlin Wall, perhaps the most infamous wall of all time - a wall that divided families, a wall that enslaved a whole nation, a wall that destroyed human worth. And just as surely, we all thrilled when the wall came crashing down nearly four years ago.

But sadly, long after the Savior completed His mortal mission and left us His divine teachings, other kinds of walls may affect us. They also can divide families, enslave people, destroy human worth - such walls are personal obstacles and come with many names and faces.

There is the wall of indifference, the wall of insensitivity, the wall of bigotry, the wall of unkindness, the wall of intolerance, the wall of ungodliness, the wall of impatience, the wall of unforgiveness.

The list goes on and on.

When we build emotional barriers, we always turn inward, shutting out to some degree the world and the people therein.

If we are locked behind the wall of indifference in our lives, are we going to care what happens in far-away places with names that we can hardly pronounce, or even in our own neighborhoods that we know so well? Are we going to reach out to those in need, to those whose hearts are broken, to those who are crying for help? Are we going to be concerned about anything other than our own needs?

If we are shielded behind the wall of insensitivity, are we going to care about the thousands of homeless who are aimlessly wandering our streets, or about the ever-increasing incidents of child or spouse abuse?

If we are indifferent or insensitive, we may not even be in tune to the needs of our own family members, our aged parents, our children who may be struggling or a spouse who may feel unloved. How many families have been torn apart because of emotional barriers that won't let the balm of caring come through?

If we are hiding behind the walls of intolerance and bigotry, can we accept others for who they really are - children of a loving and kind Heavenly Father - who have feelings and desires not totally unlike ours?

Sometimes we build emotional barriers when we feel we have been hurt or wronged. We may want to build an impenetrable wall that protects us from further hurt and often causes us to be unforgiving. Such walls may adversely affect relationships in our families, in our Church assignments, in our places of employment, in our communities.

Just as the notorious "wall of shame" in Berlin was torn down, we too may have to tear down some obstructions in our lives and rid ourselves of barriers that may prevent our spiritual progress.

We may have to hammer away at our walls just as those behind the Berlin Wall did in seeking their freedom. And once our walls are torn down, we, too, may find a sense of freedom that we didn't have when we were locked up behind an unseen, but yet insidious, barrier.

Such was the case of a woman who felt offended by a comment from a counselor in her bishopric. For four years, she retreated behind a wall of unfriendliness toward her offender, drawing ever inward. Finally, she could take it no more and had to shuck the shackles that bound her. She apologized to the counselor for her unkind feelings toward him. She was free at last. Her personal barrier had come down.

The scriptures tell us that by faith the walls surrounding ancient Jericho fell. (See Heb. 11:30.) Perhaps it will take some divine help to rid ourselves of any restricting walls that we may have in our lives, which are impeding our eternal growth.

"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." (Matt. 7:7.)

Such is the Lord's promise. Such may be the gate to our personal freedom and the ridding of our personal barriers.

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