Sometimes being a woman, a counselor, parent, friend and a Christian bring up confusing issues for me. Last night I talked with a confidante about boundaries. She and I have been counselors for many years. In marriage and family counseling, classroom presentations, and drug/alcohol support groups for parents, I have often stressed the importance of good strong boundaries. When to say “enough”, when to let go, when to leave, and where to draw the line in the sand.
I’m not a theologian and that will probably be painfully clear to anyone reading this. My internal struggle is wrapped up in 1Corinthians 13.4 – Love is very patient and kind. As a Christian and as a counselor I also teach unconditional love. Someone more knowledgeable with the Bible can certainly e mail me back and quote some scripture that may help me with this dilemma.
The problem is – this has become personal as of late, and I find myself trying to find balance and understanding. Instead I find myself going to one extreme and then the other. Giving way too much, accepting way too much, getting hurt way too often. I think this means I need tighter boundaries. So I tighten those up only to find myself understanding the other point of view, understanding my role in whatever issue has arisen, being patient and loving unconditionally and saying “it’s ok.” We have a therapeutic term for that as well: sending mixed messages.
In the church bookstore this past Sunday I picked up a book that opened itself to a page I needed to read. I find God doing that quite often in my life. On the page was a quote to use with someone you love. I found a notebook and pen in my purse and scribbled it down. It said, “I love you too much to allow you to treat me this way. It isn’t good for you or me.” Wow. Boundaries with love. I liked it.
It’s now on my refrigerator, a piece of paper in my wallet, and on my nightstand. I welcome additional thoughts from you on this difficult issue we all face, and I give you this quote in case God needed for you to read it today as I needed to read it on Sunday.