Taking Down the Walls

The Wall Around Your HeartHi friends! Today we’re taking a brief break from the Rest series, because I am so excited about the release of The Wall Around Your Heart!

The premise of this book is that pesky wall around your heart, the impenetrable fortress you vow to build higher and higher so no one can break in. When we’re hurt, we protect. We wall off. We retreat. We leave. We falsely believe that life is too painful now, and leaving relationships will protect us from further pain.  – Mary DeMuth, The Wall Around Your Heart

We all do it. We get in a friendship or love relationship or business partnership and end up hurt. Sometimes the hurt is our own fault (admit it, sometimes it is), often the hurt comes from the other party without meaning to (their mess collides with your mess…), and even, at times, we find we have run into someone deliberately bent on hurting others. Regardless of how it happens, when we get hurt, our instinct is to protect ourselves from letting it happen again. And so we build walls.

Using the roadmap of the Lord’s Prayer, Mary DeMuth walks us through how Jesus will pull down those walls through prayer and in community. She even addresses how to protect ourselves from those “wolves in sheep clothing,” and still keep ourselves open to healing community.

Take_down_the_bricks

The Wall Around Your Heart is written in an easy-to-read style, with many of Mary’s personal stories interjected throughout. She starts with the Scripture of the Lord’s Prayer as her base, but also includes other Scripture references for further study. Several places in the book have prayers to guide you to pray for specific circumstances and the end of every chapter includes questions to help you grow in being openhearted.

I highly recommend this book to people who have been hurt by community, who are nursing raw relational wounds, with freshly built walls. I strongly suggest this book to people who have scars from years of hurt, whose walls are tall and deep. God has plans to break through all of these. Let’s together declare, “Take down the bricks, whatever it takes,” and find the sweetness of community on the other side.

If you have a wall firmly built around your heart, ask Jesus, the great gateway, to make a doorway through. He can. He is the gate. He is the avenue leading toward a rich and satisfying life—not a stingy, walled-off life.  – Mary DeMuth, The Wall Around Your Heart

You can buy The Wall Around Your Heart on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well as in local stores. If you don’t see it on the shelves, ask if they can order a copy for you.

If The Wall Around Your Heart sounds like a book that would help others you know, would you share this review and encourage them to check it out?

One final note:  Mary DeMuth has another book expected to release early next year. Not Marked: Finding Hope and Healing after Sexual Abuse was recently crowd-funded after traditional publishers deemed it too risky an investment. From what I’ve heard of it so far, I believe this book will minister to many hurting people marginalized by shame and fear of being marked. Pray for that book and for Mary as she has a lot of work ahead of her to prepare that for release.

Gratitude Equals Joy

To be simply frank and frankly simple, I do not have better words than Mary DeMuth’s from chapter 3 of The Wall Around Your Heart. Lessons that I believe God has been teaching me for the past 6 months are verbalized throughout this chapter focusing on loving God and loving others. Permit me, then, to share just a few parts of the chapter that hit me hard, with my italicized two cents thrown in.

Gratitude and Joy

Mary:  Loving others isn’t easy. And at times I don’t love well. I’d rather trumpet everyone else’s failures and barbs and minimize my own. I’d rather God forgive my mountain of sins than choose to forgive the molehill of sins that others have perpetrated against me. I’d rather bask in my self-righteous rightness than consider that I may be the perpetrator in need of others’ grace and forgiveness.

Janice:  Ouch. At times I don’t love well. This hits so close to the heart.

—–

Mary:  If I’ve learned one thing on this earth, it’s this: people who live in gratitude toward God have the most joyful lives. Dare to be set free today by exercising that kind of praise. The roadblocks to growth and joy come when we forget the bigness of God and instead make people bigger than He is.

Janice:  There it is. Gratitude toward God = joyful living. Wow.

—–

Mary:  It’s time we let go of people as idols. Not that we live fatalistically about others but that we realistically understand that God designed us to be filled up by Him first. If someone hurts us, we don’t need to be freaked out or surprised. In fact, we should be surprised when people don’t hurt us. This kind of letting go leads to freedom.

Janice:  Going to God first for filling is hard to remember sometimes. But it helps me see how often I try to put something else ahead of God, in essence making it an idol.

—–

Mary:  We are not leeches meant to suck people dry for our happiness. We are people in need of a Savior. Even though we all try to be like Jesus, we can’t truly be Jesus to others, nor can they be Him to us. Let’s let Jesus be Jesus, place our expectations firmly on Him, and grant others the freedom to be human, to be blessedly themselves, to rid them of our expectations.

Janice:  Let Jesus be Jesus. I can’t be Jesus to you and you can’t be Jesus to me. Word.
I can name relationships where I have drained others for my own happiness or what I thought would leave me happy. I am so sorry, dear ones. 

—–

Mary:  How much do you trust God with your relationships? Do you believe He is good? Do you have faith that He knows what is best, particularly when He moves you into a new circle of friends? Do you cling to some friendships longer than you should because of fear or insecurity? To revere God—to hallow His name—is to trust Him at this foundational level. God is a God of relationship. And He has a sovereign plan even in your friendships.

Janice:  How much do you trust God? Do you have faith that He knows what is best? Something to ask in your heart of hearts. Do you?

—–

Look for more thoughts from The Wall Around Your Heart in the near future. The book is available to pre-order now and will be released on October 15, 2013.

I’m linking up with these online friends:

Flowing Faith

Pray Like This

I’ve mentioned once or twice (maybe three times?) about how I’m on this launch team for The Wall Around Your Heart, right?

Right.

See, I’m so good at this, that even though some of us on the launch team decided to blog through one chapter every Monday, I waited until Sunday night to even begin to put my thoughts down in concrete form.

I’m know. I’m brill.

Wall Around Your Heart Launch Team

What I’m loving (and sort of secretly hating) about the challenge of promoting a book this book, is that every day that goes by, I’m having a mirror held up to my behavior and thoughts and friendships (or lack thereof). I don’t think it quite works this way, but I almost envision God saying, “Oh, you want to promote a book on community, do you? And you say you’re in missional community at church, are you? And this is a book about how community hurts and wounds and betrays, but you’ll learn how to come to me and in the community I give you to find healing from those hurts, is it? Well, let’s get the hurtin’ on!” (See, that sounds snippy and vindictive and God is just not like that, so this is clearly not what He’s saying.)

And yet, in the three weeks since I learned I made the launch team, it’s all coming out of the woodwork. Tough conversations, stretched friendships, messy community, slights from a friend, fresh reminders of my past screw-ups in community, etc.  I guess it makes the lessons easier to learn because I’m applying them right away, but it feels like the hard way to go about it.

All this to say, guess what my pastor preached on this past Sunday morning, guess what my church is in the middle of a 40 day challenge on, guess what I’ve been hearing God telling me I need to work on in my marriage, AND guess what Chapter One of The Wall Around Your Heart is all about?

In the opening of Chapter One, as Mary begins to walk us through the Lord’s Prayer, we read these words:

Jesus started His famous prayer with three words: “Pray like this.”

Not gossip like this. Not tell everyone else the other person’s issues like this. Not stew on the issue until your heart embitters like this. Not grumble like this. Not avoid like this.

“Pray like this.”

So simple. Praying is easy, right; just talking to God. I started praying when I was 7 or 8: “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep…” or “God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for this food…” How wonderful that Jesus understood we would need to be guided in how to pray, so He gave us His example, “Pray like this.”

And yet…don’t you sometimes have a hard time praying? I do. I get distracted, sleepy, interrupted, too busy, or at times too stubborn in my sin. It’s sometimes the last thing on my mind, when it should become first. Jesus gently reminds us, “Pray like this…”

I get annoyed at someone in the office – Pray like this.

My husband does something I think is inconsiderate – Pray like This.

A friend says something hurtful or her silence causes pain – Pray Like This.

I see someone hurting others – Pray Like This.

Someone does something I deem thoughtless, careless, or idiotic – Pray. Like. This.

Dear friend, we must be praying. We need to pray when someone hurts us. We need to pray when we hurt others.

One great thing from Chapter One of The Wall Around Your Heart is that Mary walks us through where to begin with prayer. She gives us a place to start, a mindset to have as we begin to pray for hurts and for people who hurt.

Of those starting points, the one I’m most struggling with is to begin seeing difficult relationships as gifts. This is something I will most likely bring up again soon, but for now, I leave you with a great quote from Chapter One:

gifts_gutsier_stronger

I’m ready to become gutsier and stronger. Are you? Together, let’s start remembering to go to prayer in these tough situations, in our difficult relationships.

“Pray Like This” is an invitation from Jesus to take your difficult relationships and place them in His hands.

I’m blogging through The Wall Around Your Heart, to be released October 15.  You can also pre-order the book on Amazon.

I’m linking up with:

Flowing Faith     

Wall Builders

In my freshman year of college I worked for a semester in the cafeteria dishroom. It was pretty nasty, as you may imagine. I don’t remember much about it except the gross things college students do with leftover food, the steam from the dishwasher, one epic food fight, and an odd conversation with a cute upperclassman.

He observed correctly that I had never been in a relationship before. After confirming it was true, I asked how he could tell. It was a badge of shame for me rather than something to be excited about. Of course I’d wished to have dated in high school, but no one ever seemed interested in me that way.

His response has always stayed with me:  Because I didn’t have any walls up as I would have if my heart had been broken.

A few years later, I finally understood his comment and then how I wished I could go back to those innocent, pre-wall days.

Everybody has walls. At least, everyone who has been in relationship with other people has built walls around their heart. Even by my freshman year, I had some walls from girlfriends who betrayed me or left me.

When we are hurt by course words, betrayal, careless actions, and sinful behavior from people we are close to, our gut reaction is to build walls to keep ourselves from being hurt again.

Those walls, however, end up preventing our hearts from opening up to others. The walls we build to protect ourselves become barriers that keep us from loving and being loved. Through Jesus, we can learn to love the people who hurt us.

Jesus Open Heart Example

I’m reading through The Wall Around Your Heart, which will be released in October. In it, author Mary DeMuth takes us on a journey using the Lord’s Prayer as “our treasure map. The obstacles are our hearts and the pain inflicted by others. But the outcome will be freedom, joy, peace, healing, hope, and our fortress wall broken down.” 

Who doesn’t want an outcome like that?

Would you join me here each Monday as I blog through the chapters of the book and we work together to stop being wall builders? You can also pre-order the book on Amazon.

Here is Mary’s hope for you as you read this book:

My heart for you in this journey we’ll be taking together is this: be loved. Be wildly and audaciously loved. Give what you receive. See others as Jesus sees you. Settle your worth. Rest in God’s compassion. And as you choose to believe His favor, your life won’t be able to help spilling love, compassion, and forgiveness to everyone you meet.

I’m linking up with:

Flowing Faith

  • Hi, I'm Janice. I'm part bookworm and part creative. I love both science and music (and the science of music). I'm stumbling around trying to grow closer to God. Click the photo to read more about me.

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