Today I completed a self-directed writing course called Soul Writing 101. It’s a free online program that offers opportunity to grow personally as well as in the craft of writing. If you are interested in pursuing this, click HERE to find the course for yourself. You are free to advance at your own pace.

In two separate lessons of this six-week course, the topic of “barriers” came up. Barriers with which we grow up, in our culture or family or environment… I journaled about those barriers that surfaced in my own life. And I saw that, as I’m able to identify what they were (or, in some cases, are) I’m more able to dismantle them, to operate outside of them.

Here are some barriers I’ve noticed  that were erected during my own growing-up experience:

  1. Don’t show vulnerability in your emotions, even if you hurt or struggle.
  2. Figure out tough things on your own, including the rocky path of growing up.
  3. If something hurts you, don’t think about it. Or just let it roll off your back.
  4. Keeping the peace is more important than honesty in relationships.
  5. If I get a college degree, I should be sure and “use” it. Or else it’s a waste.
  6. I should suck it up and not make people “uncomfortable” if I’m upset or hurt.
  7. I used up God’s grace for me when I became a new creation; but now I must make myself grow.
  8. There should be divisions when it comes to relationships between people of different races.
  9. I should feel “bad” or guilty for “making people mad,” and I should, in fact, keep from doing that.

cloche of pins

Do you notice how many of these untruths affect relationships? These assumptions–whether I was explicitly taught them or somehow drew my own conclusions based on what I saw happen around me–set me up for relationships that lacked authenticity. But being aware of this wrong thinking makes so much difference.

Did you ever watch the G.I. Joe cartoon as a child? At the end of the show, there’d be a quick, feel-good public service announcement–encouraging kids to be safe or follow the buddy system or something like that. At the end of the little clip, G. I. Joe would declare, “And knowing is half the battle!” He was on to something crucial, I believe.

Barriers and boundaries are not synonymous, in my opinion. We all need to establish healthy boundaries; but barriers just keep out the good.

I began singing Bible verse songs to my children when my first born was a baby. We now sing them together as a family. The first verse to which I composed a little tune (although I don’t claim that it sounds very musical) was Proverbs 4:23–“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”

When I think about guarding my heart, I want to keep out the “bad”–but I also want to usher in the “good.” Tearing down these barriers in my mind helps me to do that.




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