**MAJOR Bucket List Item Achieved… I climbed the Great Wall of China this past summer! The view was spectacular, but the lesson I learned changed my life and altered my perspective of people forever.
I’ve officially decided that walls are a good thing. However, that train of thought runs counter-cultural to our society’s quest for vulnerability, authenticity, and mask-less people. I’ve decided that I can live a genuine, real life where I can openly share about my struggles and my journey with the Father without completely removing all of my walls. Walls were originally designed to protect from invaders. Our world, on the other hand, utilizes walls to barricade against Truth. When used correctly, however, walls have the ability to protect and increase the value of whatever is enclosed within.
My friends and I had two choices: we could either hike 45 minutes to the top of the Great Wall, or we could take the 5 minute trip up on the ski lift. We chose the scenic route: the sky. I’m not afraid of heights, but that ski lift ride was one of the scariest moments of my life. I rode alone on a tiny metal contraption with no seat belt and no lock on the crossbar. I dangled from a cord, suspended a few hundred feet above the tree tops with nothing holding me except for a few slats of thin metal. I clutched my backpack and cell phone with a death grip although I chose to risk all 1500 of my Hong Kong photos to capture the panoramic view of China’s countryside as I shakily ascended to the top of the Wall.
The sacrifices didn’t stop when I sprang off the ski lift, absolutely thrilled that my phone hadn’t fallen into the forest below. My friends and I then hiked the Great Wall of China, eagerly anticipating the incredible views. I had always assumed that the Great Wall was flat.
I was wrong.
The Great Wall of China was full of stairs. These stairs weren’t built to meet any type of building code; these stairs were steep, tall, and stretched on as far as the eye could see. Hot and thirsty, we slowly clambered up to the next viewing tower and shimmied through tight passages to photograph the best vantage points. Hiking the Great Wall of China was hard work, but the journey and the sacrifice were totally worth the stellar views.
On the way down, we chose to ride an alpine slide down the Great Wall. We hurtled down the mountain, careening around trees and boulders as we gleefully cheered each other to push our little sleds faster and faster. Peals of laughter echoed throughout the forest as we tumbled out of the carts and searched for lunch. Again, it took a lot of effort to fully experience the Great Wall of China, but the investment was worth the incredible experience.
As I contemplated the gravity of finally realizing that I was in fact actually standing on the Great Wall of China and that my history book really had sprang to life before my eyes, the Father reminded me of a simple truth about walls:
the best walls have gates.
People really shouldn’t be completely transparent and totally open with every person they meet; people should really be reserved in sharing their deepest thoughts and dreams with one another. However, instead of building gargantuan walls with absolutely no way in or out, we should equip our walls with gates. When people take the time to climb our walls and sacrifice time and energy to intentionally get to know us, we can then open our gates and let them inside. Hikers who take the time to clamber up a wall climb that wall because they desperately want to reach the top. We climbed the Great Wall of China because we wanted to see the sights. We wanted to see what rested on the other side. We wanted to invest in that view.
The same concept applies to our hearts too.
The more you get to know someone, the more of their walls you intentionally try to climb. A bridge of trust is built when a person opens their gate and lets you enter inside. Most people have many walls, but few people enter through all of the gates.
Climbing the Great Wall of China was no easy task; however, I desperately wanted to see what was on the other side. I knew that the view would be worth the effort. In the same way, when I choose to get to know people, I choose to get to know them because I believe they are worth knowing. We are all worth knowing, but the only One who can truly know all of us is the Father. It often takes a long time to earn a person’s trust and have access to their innermost gates, but sometimes that bridge is built quickly due to circumstances or an immediate connection. Not all people try to climb walls with good intentions, so that’s why we have our gates in the first place. Our Father sacrificed everything to have access to the most personal, innermost part of us- our heart and soul. We have to choose to invite Him in as well.
Let people climb your walls, and allow them the joy of getting to know you. Choose to open your gates and let those closest to you enter. Have discretion, but don’t hide behind your walls. You have a special view of life that people want to see, especially our Father, who loves you so well.