My childhood home had a huge backyard and one of the things that stood out the most to me was our chain link fence. I remember seeing other yards in our neighborhood comparable in size but they had no fences. Our fence existed even before we had a dog, so I was not quite sure why my dad insisted on us having a fence. Finally I asked my dad about our fence and he told me, “There are two sides to this fence. You are either on the side where you belong and are safe, or you are on the other side where you don’t belong and I can’t protect you.”
I am 99.9% sure that as a child, that reply didn’t make much sense to me but I understand it now. As I grew older, I started dreaming about fences. It’s crazy because often times I saw myself in my dreams, sitting on a fence instead of being on either side. Sometimes I would see myself falling and before I hit the ground, I would wake up.
In my late 20’s and early 30’s, I found myself sitting on the fence of life. I went to church almost every Sunday but I also partied Wednesday through Saturday, and if I was lucky, I would be at the club on Sunday evenings too. I prayed, read my Bible, and I would participate in church functions all while still drinking, hanging out with the girls, and my language was foul.
I was living life on the fence. I used to always hear this saying, “You got one foot in the church and one foot in the world.” That was me. I was sitting on the fence with one foot dangling on each side and too scared to make up my mind to get down and choose.
Being in the world was fun for me, or that is what I pretended it to be. However, I was suffering. I was covering up my pain with booze and men. I was spending money left and right trying to keep up with the latest fashions and trends. My paychecks were gone even before payday and giving offering or paying tithes was not an option for me.
Many times I found myself on the world’s side, unprotected. I was in a lot of dark places, crying out for someone, anyone to just come find me. One night I had gotten into some trouble and called my daddy and he gave me some tough love and left me right where I was. I was on the side of the fence where I was unprotected.
Oftentimes, I felt like I did not belong and I was in a place of torment because I knew better, but I could not make up my mind to get off of that fence.
In 1996, I found myself back in my hometown because I had to leave school early to assist with my mother’s care and with no place to really go, I moved in with my boyfriend. Things were well in the beginning but as time went on, we argued more and soon began drifting apart. The first place I ran to for help was the church. I found myself on a lonely pew crying out to God to help fix my relationship.
Then it hit me, how in the world am I asking God to fix my shacking ways? I realized I wanted off of the fence. I wanted to climb down off that cold steel chain link fence and stand on the side where I would be protected.
God got my attention and called me down off of the fence. My spiritual daddy and my natural father were right. The fence I was on had two sides and it was up to me to decide which side I was going to end up on.
That is a decision we all have to make. Living on a fence is uncomfortable and often times you feel like you are going to fall. Eventually you are going to have to make a choice for which side of the fence you are going to stand.
I learned that on God’s side, I am protected and because He is the Light, I no longer find myself in dark places. God is able to shield me and provide me refuge when temptations and hard times come. I did not have that assurance on the other side of the fence.
Being on top of the fence and sitting in middle, left me exposed, tired from trying to keep my balance, and it left me numb from sitting there so long. Now that I’ve chosen to get down off of the fence, I am covered by God and He has renewed my strength. My body is no longer numb because He made me a new creature and spoke life into me.
Today, if you are like I once was, and you find yourself sitting on that fence, know that God wants you on the side where you belong and where He can protect you. If you are unsure of His willingness to do so, Psalm 18:2 can give you that peace that God can and will do just what He said. “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (NASB)
Meet the Contributor
Deborah Woolard is a single mother of three from Raleigh, NC and she currently resides in Charlotte, NC. She is an ordained & licensed minister and she serves as the Youth Director at R5 Church. Her love for writing, especially poetry is one of the many ways God allows her to use her gifts for His glory. Her poetry can be viewed at https://m.facebook.com/gracefullydsignedbydeborah/.