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February 5, 2013
Goodness Matters
The Weakness in the Wall
by Vickey Pahnke Taylor

Ever built a wall around yourself? Because of hurt, fear, insecurity, sheer busyness, or whatever?

Having done so myself, on a number of occasions, it’s interesting to discover (at least, it has been my experience) that sometimes I don’t even want that wall there. It just pops up. Out of nowhere. Every single time, there is a weakness in that wall. Wise people around me have known how to chip away at that weak spot in order to free me from the self-imposed prison.

I’ve seen, or better written, felt those walls around folks many times. Thinking of my own experience, I realize the wall can go up quickly, or it may have been built quietly, stoically, over a long period of time. But by finding the weak spot, I may discover (through prayerful concern or the blessing of a lightbulb moment of heaven-given clarity) some common ground on which to build a bridge from me to the prisoner.

Using communication skills, attention to detail, and the Holy Spirit, we may become a genuine blessing as we are allowed into the heart and mind of somebody who is shut down or walled off. Paying attention to a talent or interest may allow that wall to slowly tumble, as we open the gate to communication. It’s good stuff when we feel it happen!

When one of my grandchildren was going through a really tough time, I watched closely to note her current habits and activities. When I brought up the subject of dance – she was a young girl beginning hip hop classes – her eyes lit up and she started talking. Before long, that weakness in her self-built wall was allowing me entrance to lovingly help it fall.

For whatever reason, it was a ‘moment’ for her. And for me. She jumped into dance with new joy and without the fears and insecurities that may well have held her back from enjoying this form of expression, exercise, and freedom.

There was much more to it, of course. The Lord knows our concerns and He certainly knows about those walls we build. He will work with us when we work with someone who needs us to bring down the walls. He’ll do it for our own walls, too, when we allow a concerned party to talk with us as they lovingly chink away at the one weak spot in the wall. If a wall has a weak spot, it’s a matter of finding it.

In doing so, there are hearts to reach and minds to teach, and blessings to bestow. The Savior will aid us in getting through the wall and in building a bridge.

President Thomas S. Monson shared this poem at General Conference October 2003. It is long, but so worth the read. And it must be important, since it was shared by the one who is the mouthpiece of the Lord.

The Bridge Builder” by Will Allen Dromgoole

An old man, going a lone highway,

Came at the evening, cold and gray,

To a chasm, vast and deep and wide,

Through which was flowing a sullen tide.

The old man crossed in the twilight dim;

The sullen stream had no fears for him;

But he turned when safe on the other side

And built a bridge to span the tide.

“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,

“You are wasting strength with building here;

Your journey will end with the ending day;

You never again must pass this way;

You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide—

Why build you the bridge at the eventide?”

The builder lifted his old gray head:

“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,

“There followeth after me today

A youth whose feet must pass this way.

This chasm that has been naught to me

To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.

He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;

Good friend, I am building the bridge for him.”

President Monson said, “The message of the poem has prompted my thinking and comforted my soul, for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, was the supreme architect and builder of bridges for you, for me, for all mankind. He has built the bridges over which we must cross if we are to reach our heavenly home.”

Along the way we, too, may be as the wise old man. Seeking for the weak spot in the wall, and relying on the help of the Savior, we can be such a blessing. That’s pretty simple, really. Genuinely good. And goodness matters.

Copyright © 2023 by Vickey Pahnke Taylor Printed from