Mental fences can keep us from forgiveness

By Judy Brandon: Religion columnist

When I go visit my sister Susie in Minnesota, we go walking. Close to her home is a paved path several miles long. The dirt path goes east by a baseball practice field where kids are gearing up for the season. Then it stretches by a field that boarders a farm about a half mile from her home.

This is the route we take when I go to visit Susie. Beautiful green pants line the path in the summer — even ferns grow wild there. Along the sides of the path are fences. On one side there is a farm and we can see that beautiful Minnesota farm barn about a half mile away. This fence keeps the cattle in and keeps us from trespassing across the planted fields.

Then on the other side of the road is another grass field with a fence. There is no farm there, no cattle there but a hand painted sign with the words “NO TRESPASSING” dangles from one of the fence posts.

Both these fences divide the land, keep us on the path, stop our movement, designate space, and define both properties. Both fences were erected. One was to keep cattle in and one for some other unknown reason.

In both instances, our access to both fields is altered because we cannot step foot on the land.

When I walk that path, it causes me to think: Do we assemble mental fences in our minds that cause us to think and feel certain ways?

Right or wrong and psychologically if it is healthy or not, I do have some mental fences and they protect me from certain feelings. I know that I am not the only one who does this.

All of us in life have been hurt at one time or another by other people. The result is sometimes we build a mental fence of toughness to handle our damaged feelings. It could be that we shared our heart with someone and they responded with disloyalty or ridicule. As a result, a mental fence is built to keep people at a distance.

Then it could be that dreams and goals early on became unachievable so we have erected a mental wall to keep from revisiting old dreams in our minds.

Sometimes we can actually see fences of prejudice that segregate us from others because they are just a little different that we may be. Other times we erect mental fences to protect our feelings of inferiority and thus come across as unfriendly or uninterested.

All those mental fences in our minds shape who we are and what we are and some of those barriers may be damaging to our total emotional well being.

I was at Susie’s this last week and we talked about this on one of our walks. We decided that we had to lay our attitudes before God, because He knows anyway. We have to be truthful with ourselves and know that God can heal all those hurtful past encounters, give us purpose for the present in life and give us new goals and foresight for the future.

Time in the present is too precious to live in the past focusing on ways we have been hurt. If we have to look back, we should focus on spiritual things that remind us of whose we are. Christ’s unselfishness at Calvary 2000 years ago not only helps us keep our present in focus, but it allows us to forgive those who have wronged us and secures the future for us. That is a spiritual fence I lean on.

Judy Brandon is a Clovis resident. Contact her at: