The Fences We Hide Behind (And How To Break Free)

People say we shouldn’t put up walls between us and the people we love. But what about fences?

Fences seem like a good option. They aren’t as rigid or isolating. They let just enough of life in. Fences let people see us, hear us, talk to us. And we stay just out of their reach, tucked away from the wounding grasp of closeness.

I kind of like my fences. Especially as a mom with a couple of intense kids with “issues.” My fences conserve and protect much-needed emotional energy.

But, then, there’s this nagging loneliness that creeps up every once in a while.

Perhaps you’ve felt it, too?

Maybe like me, you realize you’re not really invested in what your child is talking about after school. Or you just spent an entire phone conversation with your mom while surfing the net on your laptop, and can’t really remember what you talked about. Or you find ways to be busy at a gathering, rather than enduring the sometimes awkward now-what-do-we-talk-about moments with a new friend.

Maybe it’s just me.

Or maybe it’s time to emerge from behind the fences. But how?

Open a gate. Take a first step.

  • Turn off the computer next time you’re on the phone.
  • Sit across from your child and really see her – the gestures, the words, the way she’s wearing her hair.
  • Be fully present to the one you’re with. Which means you’ll have to be fully present with YOU, too. Notice when it gets to be too much and take care of your own needs for a breather, for a walk, or for a nap.
  • Have a safe place ready to keep track of your emotions and needs – maybe a journal, maybe a close friend, maybe in prayer.
  • Invite someone you trust (as much as you can) over to your side of the fence. Be honest, open, real. Let them know it’s a little scary for you, and see what happens.
  • Let yourself miss the fence. Change is tough, and you’ll want – crave – that distance sometimes. Notice the missing, notice the longing. And keep stepping out from behind it anyway.

Our fences can really grow on us. They seem like a good way to stay safe, to protect us from hurt – or from hurting others. But, friend, fences get rusty and broken down. They mar the view of what’s best in life.

Will you take the risk to step out from behind the fence today?


(Photo credit: Debbie Conley Foreman)

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  1. MotheringFromScratch says

    {Melinda} What a great post, Laurie … I think when we parent special needs kids, we build fences for self-protection. People don’t know all the circumstances and they judge our parenting, our lack of “control” over our children. It’s easier and safer to pull back — only reveal yourself in small doses. And, yes, that becomes lonely. And isolation is Satan’s idea — not God’s. I’m trying to fight my impulses to put up fences — knowing that rejection is the risk and the reality. Some people just won’t understand. Or care to try to. And that’s okay. When I take the risk, I always find people who are worth it. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for such a valuable post.

  2. Amy Alve says

    This is great news Laurie and my first time to your site! ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m finding out in life how beneficial it is to dream big and go for it! Less fences, more doors wide open… God proves to know how to set free! Thanks for sharing! ~ Blessings girl, Amy

    • says

      That’s so true! The more we open those gates, the less fence we’ve got… it just keeps getting better and better. So grateful He helps us build that positive momentum!

  3. Diane W Bailey says

    I always love you creative, and yet, black and white, way of telling the truth of a matter. My fence can be a privacy fence sometimes.

    You are so dear to me! Thank you for opening your gate and inviting me into a friendship with you!

  4. says

    Laurie, wow this hit home. I definitely have fences. They keep me “safe,” that’s my goal anyway. What a great reminder to “open the gate.” I will remember this!