Barriers Have a Purpose
On these cold, cold winter days, we have developed a strategy for staying warm: close up some rooms and heat only the ones we’re living in. It works.
We used to do that back on my home place in western Maryland when winter howled outside. The wind blew its way through cracks and outlets in the house as below-zero temperatures hovered outside. One week we hauled the sofa and an easy chair into the dining room, shut off the living room, and camped out in the kitchen and dining room for a week. The coal furnace in the basement did its best to keep up with the wind chill factor, but it couldn’t compete. The power of the wind and below-zero temperatures thwarted it’s attempts to keep us warm. When things warmed up outside, we moved things back where they belonged.
This was what we needed to do to survive. We missed the extra space and the openness in the house, but it was worth the hassle to stay warm – and safe.
Sometimes in real life, we have to shut doors and close up rooms to stay safe. Sometimes we have to put up barriers until the storm subsides. It’s the only way to survive.
In real life, there are times when we need to protect ourselves or our kids from the dangers of a storm. It might mean we need to barricade or provide a form of defense – not to be cruel, mean, or inhumane – but to protect and keep safe those for whom we are responsible.
In today’s society, there are many avenues of danger to our kids or to our family. That’s why we have to put up barriers – to shield and protect them and us. If you don’t have a good feeling about a situation, then stay safe. You can always check things out and change your plan later.
“Better safe than sorry” is a good adage to consider. Whether it’s the friends we keep, access to social media or personal cell phone, we ought not be afraid or ashamed to close up doors and barricade the cold so the lives of our children are safe – and warm.
As a parent, if you are honest with yourself, you’ll know what you need to do. The struggle comes when our kids fight the barriers and want to be in the coldest room. We think they should understand the dangers of frostbite and want to be where it’s warm and safe. They don’t. You’re the parent, not the friend. Listen to their desires, then choose the boundaries that matter most for their future health and safety.
As a spouse, sometimes you need to take steps to provide a barrier or protection – either from others or from your spouse. Sometimes in our desire to not make someone feel hurt or left out, we make poor choices for the moment, not realizing how we will pay for those choices for years – or the rest of our lives.
As an employee or co-worker, sometimes we have to initiate a barrier – to protect ourselves or others. Instead of allowing others to make us feel guilty, we need to reckon with what is happening in our workplace and take the steps necessary to provide a barrier. I had to do that once. There was a co-worker who thought I was too naive to put up barriers. I talked to my brother who gave me some good advice. When the co-worker learned I had a brother who cared, he quit trying to climb over the barrier I had created. Even if my inclination had been wrong, I would still have been safe. Is it not better to err on the side of needing to apologize for closing a door than to regret for the rest of our lives not taking action when we should have?
The Purpose of Barriers
When there’s a storm brewing your way, take stock of your surroundings. Consider the devastation that could come – then batten down the hatches and do what needs to be done to make it through the storm so you (and your family) can be safe. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to close up a few rooms and put up some walls so those for whom you are responsible can remain safe.