Love Is Greater Than Walls

Love Greater Than WallsI was only a handful of months out of high school when I got my first assignment at my new job. I had always been a caretaker and nurturer. And so, I knew it was going to be difficult, but I said yes anyway – to being a part-time caretaker for a young hearing impaired, nonverbal, autistic girl.

The very first day was the beginning of a brutal education for me. I immediately cared for Misha, and so it tore me apart to see her struggle to understand the world around her and communicate. Frustrated at her little brother, she would scratch or claw or hit him. Frustrated at me, she would throw things. Frustrated at herself, she would beat her head on the wall or the closest piece of furniture. And many times, my only recourse was to wrap my arms around her in a therapeutic hold that I came to think of as a pretzel hold. It was just enough restraint to keep her from hurting anyone – including herself. And she was only a little girl… a little girl with feelings and hurts and needs… but locked inside herself and unable to clearly express any of it.

It took Misha a little while to warm up to me. Care and affection weren’t things that she was easily able to express. It wasn’t until the day that she walked in from school, ran over to me, climbed me like a tree, and wrapped her arms and legs tightly around me that I had an inkling that I’d made it into her circle of trust. And after that day, one of her coping mechanisms was putting her arms around my neck, her legs around my waist, and clinging to me, with her face buried in my neck. School was bad? She was frustrated with the toddler in the house? She had wet the bed? No matter what the problem was, being in my arms seemed to make it better.

I wish it were really that easy to heal a wounded heart…

In Chapter 4 of Corrie Ten Boom’s The Hiding Place, Corrie tells the story of her mother, who has a stroke and loses her ability to speak. And having recently watched a very eloquent friend lose his ability to speak to cancer, Corrie’s experience affected me profoundly. Corrie “learned that love is larger than the walls that shut it in” (ebook location 991).

It was true with her mother. It was true for my friend with cancer. And it was true with Misha. Your body or circumstances may shut your mouth, steal your words, or your ability to express them. But love inside of us is too strong to stay locked inside for too long. As Starr Daily said, “Love opens prison doors.”

This post is part of a weekly book discussion on Corrie Ten Boom’s book, The Hiding Place. You don’t have to read the book to comment here. If you have written a response to this week’s chapter, you can link it up at my co-facilitator, Jason’s place.


About Sarah Salter


  1. Barbara Capps says:

    Yes it does… That was a good one…Funny how circumstances show us “what we are really made of” sometimes.. That love does come through..

  2. Amen. Been a few situations like that myself (still am in some ways). Not as severe as that, but difficult nonetheless. People have to trust to be love and express love. So important. Thanks Sarah.

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