Thursday, August 12, 2010

Living Behind Walls

In rural Zambia the people live within a cluster of huts that make up a village. There are no walls of protection that surround them. They sweep their dirt outside their huts each day so that they can know if any visitors have come to their hut during the night- whether person or snake. They take pride in where they live. Zambian people are very relational and will stop whatever they are doing if a visitor comes. They then focus their attention on pleasing the visitor. They give them the best seat that they have and the best food they can prepare.
In the cities or townships most expatriate people live in homes with a 7 foot wall surrounding their property. Most often there is an electric wire or broken glass up at the top to deter thieves. Even on the windows and doors there are bars which would make it quite difficult to get into your house if a thief did make it over the wall. I'm assuming that was started as a form of protection a long time ago. So, in the city most of the neighborhoods have walls around the houses which makes it hard to see the house or even get to know your neighbors. So even in such a relational society when a wall is involved it hinders peoples ability to get out and meet those who live close to them and be involved in their lives.
So, as you can imagine when we come to the states we have to deal with the fact that we don't have a wall around our house or bars on our windows. It just seems like we are so vulnerable for anyone to be able to break in. We have only been back a few weeks but I have noticed something that I have never noticed before. We are staying in the same neighborhood that we have stayed in the last 3 times that we have been in the states. It all looks the same and I imagine many of the neighbors are the same. However, as I go for a walk in the evenings everyone is in their homes. There aren't people out in the yards visiting or sitting in the chairs on the porch chatting. Perhaps this time of year it is because of the heat. Either way, people are so busy I guess that when they get home from work or their activities they hide in their homes and relax. It just makes me wonder what has happened to us as Americans over the years. It use not to be like that. Even when I was a little girl I remember playing outside in the evenings catching lightning bugs while my parents sat outside watching us. I remember visiting neighbors and friends. It just seems like everyone in America is living behind a wall. Oh, it's not a physical wall because everyone wants others passing by in a car to see how pretty their house and yard is but there is definitely an imaginary wall.
Whether we live with a physical wall around our home or with an imaginary one, at times in our lives we put up a wall around ourselves. We hide behind the facade that all is well when really it is not. We don't let other people be a part of our lives for fear of getting hurt or getting rejected or maybe even laughed at. We don't want to invest our lives in others because life is tough and its difficult to just handle our own. I think we need to break down these imaginary walls and let others in. We need to not fear rejection and reach out to others even when it is difficult. We need to get back to how it used to be in America or how it is in rural Zambia where we take time with people and be more relational. I don't know who reads this blog but maybe someone reading it today has built up a wall around themselves and needs to tear it down. There are times when we find ourselves facing enormous ‘walls’ that are impossible to break down by human strength. If we put our faith in God and follow His commandments, He will perform ‘great and mighty things’ (Jer. 33:3) and give us the victory.

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