Between responsibilities and boundaries, there exists a bit of open space, not so easily navigated or clearly defined.
It is located somewhere between the rock and the hard place, and sometimes it is a tight squeeze.
Boundaries are healthy—an absolute must to live sane and strong and productive and free.
But boundaries are not an “I decide no” default for every difficult, uncomfortable, or unpleasant task involving people (loved ones or strangers). Not everything tough is toxic.
Greater love has no man than he lay down his life for a friend … pretty sure that takes one beyond the established healthy boundaries in many cases.
Yes. Set your boundaries. Don’t allow the decisions or behavior of others to push you around or constantly leverage your kindness or abilities for their personal gain. Don’t be a victim of people lacking awareness, decency, or compassion. It is important to establish your level of contribution and the measure of your sacrifice in every relationship. Know the edges of the lines well and communicate them with yourself first, so you will have the strength and resolve to communicate and hold to them with others.
At the same time, don’t allow your boundaries to turn you into a self-serving, self-preserving island of guilt-free “not my brother’s keeper.” Make sure your boundary lines are drawn with the Holy Spirit, not by the 10 easy steps in the newest self-help book.
Thou shalt love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.
Thou shalt love your neighbor as yourself.
According to the New Testament, these are the greatest commandments—the ones that fulfill them all. Love God. Love people.
Where I establish my boundaries takes these commandments to heart. I absolutely use discernment and great caution not to allow chronic, toxic behavior to infiltrate, invade, or abuse me. But I am not made of candy-glass, surrounded by cotton balls with shock-absorbing boundary walls to protect me from everything and everyone I just don’t feel like dealing with. Sometimes I do get taken advantage of. Sometimes, I allow that taking. Sometimes “in honor preferring another” means letting them push me (momentarily, not permanently) beyond my boundaries.
Between responsibilities and boundaries, sometimes the air is thin. Sometimes the night is long. Sometimes the valley is rough.
But there abides a Friend who is closer than a brother, whose all-encompassing love and matchless grace withers selfishness, strengthens the heart, and receives your sacrifice as honorable worship unto Him.
In that place, there is peace and fullness of joy. In that place, grace abounds. In that place, I am free. Amen.