bar-ri-er (noun): a circumstance or obstacle that keeps people or things apart or prevents communication or progress
Walls. Gates. Locks.
We like to think that if we block out enough of our past, it will be like it never happened. This is a huge lie. Putting up barriers in our lives leads to a lonely road. You push people who love you away, you don't open yourself up to the good that is around and waiting on you, and you don't allow God to come in, take it all from you, and fix it. While barriers feel like a great idea and defense mechanism at the time, it can turn into a rejecting mechanism to those who you won't let in.
Barriers don't allow for anything to work, but it does allow for everything to fail.
I don't trust people, so I shut them out. I don't believe what they tell me unless it's negative. I don't go after my dreams, I let others get theirs. This was my mindset and sometimes they come back and try to rebuild their wall around my heart. It's not easy getting rid of a barrier. The only way I know how to get rid of it is to destroy it with the truth of the Holy Spirit. Barriers are the equivalent to Satan's reminders of all the things that have happened to you that led you to building the barriers in the first place. Satan uses them to make you second guess everything; yourself, your faith, even God. Sometimes, if you allow them to, the barriers you have built prevent you from opening up to having a relationship with God and keep you from giving your life to Him.
I want to share with you some of the barriers I used to have and some that I am in the progress of still knocking down.
Barrier #1: Compliments and Loving Who I Am (inside and out)
I was bullied for a good portion of my life. I was told I was ugly, fat, worthless, overall not enough (speaking of which, where is this checklist of things that make us "enough"?). Social media and what society said didn't, and still doesn't, help my way of thinking; it almost makes me even more hard on myself which makes things even worse. I let myself believe these hurtful things which led to me rejecting any compliments or comments on how I looked or who I was. I put up a barrier of ever thinking who I was and what I looked like was pretty enough. Instead of feeding myself the truth, I fed into all the lies and hatred. I also didn't appreciate my body for how it was designed and what it was capable and created to do. In my head, my legs could always be thinner, my arms could be leaner, and my stomach could be flatter. These thoughts, or others, have probably gone through your head as well. While it would be nice to get that "perfect body" and fit the mold, it would be even nicer if we met ourselves where we are at and just love who we are. No judgement; just love and acceptance. Psalm 139:14 tells us that we are "fearfully and wonderfully made" but I felt like I had gotten skipped over for the longest time. It was, and sometimes still is, an ongoing battle but it is on the recovering side of things now. Let me share with you a quote my mom always tells me that will sum this up perfectly, "God don't make no junk, and you aint junk!" That means that there was no flaw, no mistake and no second guessing when it came to the creation of each and every one of us.
Barrier #2: Following My Dreams (jobs, goals, etc.)
I doubted my career choice all of my life as well because I didn't feel like I was ever smart enough to be successful in that field (thank goodness I can always go back to school!). I settled. I let others talk me into doing my chosen career path because they told me how good I would be and that I would be "perfect". I second guessed the abilities that I had been given, as well as doubting the abilities I knew God had, yet again. I doubted that I was a good enough athlete constantly. Never thought I was a good enough cheerleader to ever tryout in college or good enough dancer to turn it into a profession. I was actually told I wasn't athletic enough, period. I then put up a barrier that I would never amount to anything or do what I always wanted to do. Again, the lies and negative words got engraved into my brain and I never looked back. Proverbs 16:3 says, "Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established". Some of us don't have a clue about what our plan is but we have dreams/goals. God is already there with your plans perfectly in place in His timing. Do all things, whatever you may be doing, as if you are doing them for the Lord. Seek, praise, and obey Him in all of your works and you will be blessed. Commit to whatever it is that you are pursuing and do it for the Lord and He will guide you on what step you need to make next without fail. But, this is when blind faith comes into play; you must expect and allow for God to speak to you, because He will! Your dreams and goals are important to God and He knows what those desires of your heart are because He placed them there and plans on fulfilling them.
Barrier 3: Being Loved
Lastly, I had a barrier that I was not enough to ever be loved and accepted and wanted by another person. This barrier returned once all was said and done and it is still something I face daily. I was in a relationship where everything was great; until one day it became a battlefield. I was in the position of fighting for my relationship. I thought I could fix my relationship with him all on my own so I rejected God in a sense and built a barrier from Him because I felt like He had abandoned me when my whole world seemed to be crashing down. It was towards the end, when I surrendered all of that relationship to Him, that my barrier came down and God took me out of the fight and into restoration. You see, I had too many locks and walls built around me in that relationship. I was second guessing myself personally and in the relationship all the time. I didn't know if I was good enough for him or his family, didn't know if I looked pretty enough on the outside, didn't know if I was worth anything to be proud of, amongst other thoughts. The reality though was simply, I am enough, but I just wasn't created to be with him forever. As hard as that was to swallow, I have accepted it and God has radically transformed my heart and my mindset. Now, that's not to say that that experience didn't set up new barriers because it did. However, the barriers aren't as high as they originally were and I also have some pretty awesome friends, demolition assistants if you will, that have built me up over the barriers I once built around myself. Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose". Once you know how to love yourself, it is then that you can fully love another. Know and feel the mightiness of the love of God and cling to that. Don't go looking for love in all the wrong places; look for love in God and let Him do the searching for you. Let me throw out another quote, "Keep dancing with God and He'll let the right one cut in". No need in you looking for a man when God has "the man" created and waiting just for you. (For any guys reading, God has the right woman created and waiting for you too!)
Isn't it funny how most of all my barriers have something to do with not being "enough" of something. Why is it that we attempt and kill ourselves over this strive to be "enough" of anything and everything we come face to face with? Why is being loved and forgiven and redeemed by an all-knowing, all-seeing, all powerful God not "enough"? Why does society get to dictate this level of "enough" when really the only one we need to measure up with is the Savior on the day we face the gates of Heaven? Because, let's be honest here. Society is nothing but Satan in disguise and he has many faces and lies to match. These lies caused me to turn against myself. I'm preaching to myself when I say this. We need to stop letting the lies override the truth. And that's just it. The lies are so much easier to believe because we are exposed and told those all the time. It is very few times that we are exposed and ejected to the praises and the truth. I even tend to trust the people that I know can, and eventually will, hurt me and push away those who really, genuinely love me. Same thing with Satan and God. We sometimes lean so much into the lying, deceitful words of Satan and push away God's beautiful promises and love letters to us.
This past February was filled with barrier breaking moments. I auditioned for the first time in New York City for a dancer role on a cruise line. I had prepared for this but I had a barrier up in my head that made me second guess EVERYTHING. I got to the audition and almost left because I didn't think I could do it. However, God had different plans. He reminded me in that moment that this is what He called me to do and this was His plan for me. He guided me there and He got me through. I knew when I walked out of that studio, filled with the overwhelming peace of the Holy Spirit, that without a doubt, this was what I needed to be doing for this season in my life. At the end of the month, I also ran my first half marathon in Walt Disney World. I dressed up as Belle and ran like Gaston had proposed! I didn't train like I should have but I was very content with the results (once you took out the 10 minutes that included a bathroom break and a quick pic with Cinderella, it was under 3 hours). Before the race I doubted my body and whether or not I could do it but at the end of it I walked away with a new love to run and a desire to do more. I also found out that I could drive to and from Disney World with minimal hours of sleep (it's the small things people!). God is always purposeful with His plans on our paths of life. There are no mistakes, only lessons to be learned and experiences to gain.
Sarah Young writes, "Keeping your focus on God's presence is the best protection against self-pity and depression". That is the kind of barrier we need to build around our hearts; it's the one of God's love, power, and mercy. This barrier still connects us with God and those around us but it is more of an armor for our hearts so that we can fight back and stay standing through any of life's battles that we may have to face because God is right there.
God is going to break through all of your barriers because He wants to barricade you Himself with His arms and love. Psalm 62:8 says, "God is our refuge, not our restriction". Stop restricting him and let down the barrier/barriers that stand in the way of you giving God all control and God giving you all of His protection. You are valuable. Stop hiding behind your barriers and stand beside the Lord.