Boundaries and Balance, Part 4: What Are You Walling In or Walling Out?


The Great Wall of China
Image in public domain

You are a shield around me, O LORD. —Psalm 3:3 NIV

In Old Testament times, walls surrounded cities, walls so thick houses were built into them. Today, instead of walls, we trust our security to the armed forces, police, and other groups created for our protection.

But walls still exist. The Great Wall of China, for instance, was constructed in ancient times to protect the country from invasions and raids from nomadic groups to the north. Today the sadly neglected wall is little more than a tourist attraction.

When it was built, however, China was not a communist nation, and the wall was not meant to keep citizens in, like the Berlin Wall.

Which brings me back to Frost’s poem, “Mending Wall,” and the line, “Before I built a wall I’d ask to know/What I was walling in or walling out.”

We all build walls around us, don’t we? Invisible walls to wall out the unwanted and to wall in that which we want to protect.

First, let’s look at what we wall out.

I, for one, wall out toxic people—people whose behavior has a noxious effect on me, on my emotions, on my thinking, and consequently on my behavior. They spew their poison, and, like yeast, it permeates every aspect of my life if I let it.

I can’t change these individuals, even if I tried. But I can pray for them. I can’t love them on my own, but I can ask God to love them through me.

But that doesn’t mean I have to spend time with them. After all, I’m only human. That’s why I have to wall them out. So their poison doesn’t affect me and those I love.

What other influences must I wall out? The godless and corrupt. Negative thinking. Negative speech. Anything that tears down and doesn’t build up. That which discourages me, robs me of hope, siphons love, and undermines my faith. That which would distract and derail me from God’s purpose for me.

What are we walling in?

That which we want to protect—our minds, our hearts, our spirits.

There’s so much out there bent only to destroy. Remember what Jesus, the Good Shepherd who encloses His fold in a sheep pen, said? “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

Walling in doesn’t mean you have a closed mind but that you’re protecting it from corrupting influences (Philippians 4:8–9, Romans 12:2).

It doesn’t mean that you become afraid to love, thinking that will protect your heart, but that you ask God to love others through you. Not your love, then, but His.

Walling in your spirit doesn’t mean you have a blind faith, but with single-minded devotion and commitment to God and His Word, you’re protecting the garden of your faith so it can grow to full maturity and produce an abundant harvest.

Take a close look at your life.

What are you walling in and walling out?

Lord God, be the wall around me. Whatever You allow in, I know You have a purpose for it. Help me to live my life in Your sheep pen and trust my Shepherd. Amen.

Read and meditate on Matthew 13:33 and John 10:1–10

A good article to read about toxic people and their dangerous influence is “What’s a Toxic Person & How Do you deal with One?” by Margarita Tartakovsky, MS, associate editor of
World of Psychology blog sponsored by Psych Central.


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