These pictures show some of the red brick walls you can find behind most businesses downtown. Take a quick glance and you might think there’s some sort of secret garden behind these barriers.
But no, it’s just trash. These brick walls are a way of keeping all our garbage out of the way so the downtown shoppers don’t have to see (or smell) the waste. A good thing.
But it’s not such a good thing when we do this with our lives. All people—and for some reason it seems like Christians especially—put walls around their garbage. We don’t want anyone to see some of the less-presentable parts of our lives. The weaknesses. The addictions. The failures. The poor choices of our past; insecurities of our present; fears of our future. So we post smiling photos and never leave the shallow end of relationships. We show up to church pretending everything is Great, how are you?
These false fronts are keeping us from the kind of relationships we’re meant to have. Now I’m not necessarily saying we should parade our garbage down the main streets of our lives, either. But there is something powerful about being yourself, your whole self, with those you consider friends. Here are just a few reasons why taking down these trash walls leads to healthier living.
Vulnerability ignites genuine, meaningful community. The very strongest communities I have ever witnessed or been a part of all have one thing in common: they were born in vulnerability. Taking the first step towards vulnerability is always scary, but almost always causes a chain reaction that produces deep friendships. Journeying through life without this kind of community is nearly impossible.
You’ll quickly discover you’re not alone. The funniest thing happens when you take down your trash wall: you’ll see that everyone else has trash, too. This is an important byproduct of community. Suddenly you’re not the only one wrestles with ____________, or is insecure about ___________, or is afraid of ___________. Not only does this realization dissipate shame, but it also allows you to address the trash together.
You can relax. Maintaining these trash walls can be hard work. There is incredible freedom that comes with being yourself in community. So much freedom that you might just discover that your trash isn’t what you thought it was. It doesn’t define you. It isn’t what matters most. It isn’t the deepest part of your identity. These lies thrive only when kept hidden behind locked doors. The fresh air of God’s grace is stronger than any garbage your life can produce.