H2H: The Study – Who live without borders and walls

By: Doreen Abraham

I recently started playing squash. At first I was picturing myself pulling a Lorelei & Rory from Gilmore Girls – you know, wearing sweatbands and protective goggles all ready to go, only to hit myself in the head with the ball and spend the rest of the time sitting on the floor, having the chats. I am happy to report that I have yet to hit myself in the head with the ball (win!) and I actually enjoy playing. All I need to do now is purchase some sweet sweatbands to complete my look.

One of the trickiest things about squash is while you can hit the ball off pretty much any surface, it has to stay within the bounds of an area created by red lines on the walls. Along the front wall there are two lines creating a border; one at the top and one at the bottom. Below the bottom red line the wall surface is made of metal. When the ball hits this part, it makes a different sound than elsewhere on the walls notifying both players of the fault. While the area between the red lines is pretty massive and there’s a good chance of hitting within the bounds 99% of the time, it is inevitable that during a game I will hit the ball too low against the metal part, forfeiting the point. This is normally where I dramatically cry out, “Nooooo!”. As much as I don’t like the red lines sometimes, they are part of the game and what makes it more fun (that is, competitive).

Borders and walls are necessary a lot of the time. They can separate one area of land from another area of land. A wall can create a barrier, blocking the line of sight from one place to the other. Borders, or lines, are used in sports to create boundaries and determine who gets the point. Walls are used to create rooms and spaces within the borders of a house. They are used as a marker to say, “This is mine and that is yours.”

But what about the borders and walls we create in our minds towards other people? If you are having trouble understanding what I mean, ask yourself if any of the following phrases have crossed your mind: 

  • ‘They won’t understand, we aren’t the same…’
  • ‘I don’t like how they have made me feel. Why should I be nice?’
  • ‘They clearly don’t want to be friends with me. Why bother?…’
  • ‘She’s so [insert descriptive word here]. We could never be friends…’
  • ‘I could say hi to them, but let’s be real. There’s no point…’
  • ‘You can’t sit with us…’

Okay, that last one was a bit of a joke but you know what I mean. At some point you’ve been on the giving or receiving end of actions that stem from these thoughts. The unfortunate thing is, we set up, “you can’t sit with us” borders and walls in our minds without even realizing it sometimes.

The moment we reduce someone to their appearance, their wealth, their behaviours & attitudes, their profession, their interests, etc. we have set up a barrier that keeps us from seeing them for who they really are – a daughter or son of our Heavenly Father, created in His image.

In Scripture, the most significant example of a wall, or barrier being removed is when Jesus died on the cross (Matthew 27: 50-51). Before & during Jesus’ time on Earth, the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem was divided into a number of areas, each serving a different purpose. On the far west side was an area called the Holy of Holies, where the Spirit of God dwelled on Earth. This area was separated from the rest of the Temple by a massive curtain that ran from the ceiling down to the floor. Once a year, the High Priest could enter this place on behalf of all the people to atone their sins.

The moment Jesus died, the curtain separating the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple was torn. This powerful  symbol meant two things: firstly, that the Spirit of God no longer dwelt only in the Holy of Holies in the Temple, but can dwell in each of us when we accept the truth of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and repent from our sins (1 Corinthians 3:16). The Spirit of God became accessible to all who accept, at all times – not just one priest, once a year. And secondly, by dying on the cross, Jesus made us righteous in the eyes of God meaning we do not need to make sacrifices, or have a priest make sacrifices for us to be in relationship with him (Romans 5:21). He removed the barrier of sin that separates us from Christ by his final sacrifice on the cross.

What does this mean for us?

Jesus knocked down walls and erased borders. He made the way clear for us but also reached out in grace to us. Let’s follow the example of Jesus. Let’s knock down the walls we have built in our minds & hearts to keep others out. Let’s erase the borders we have created to put others in boxes. Let’s be women who make a way for connection and Christ-like friendships to be a reality.

Let’s reach out, pull up another chair and say, “you can sit with us”.