Ever notice that some of the kindest, most caring, loving, helpful, lay-down-their-lives kind of people are the ones who have been the most broken? More often than not it is the beautiful and broken people who want to help other beautiful and broken people. They are often the ones reaching out to help the not-so-broken and not-so-beautiful as well.
They are also the ones who most often get stepped on. They take people at face value. They trust too easily (how do you think they were broken?) They often have some form of abuse in their past – physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, sexual, verbal… It is easy to take advantage of people who have been broken. They don’t always have boundaries. But they are survivors, and if you walk over top of them, you may just get cut. Badly.
Ever walk on broken glass?
Boundaries are difficult for those of us with caregiver mentalities – I know. I just learned what healthy boundaries truly are, very recently. Shortly after I learned that there was absolutely nothing I could ever do to separate me from the love of God. When you gain that understanding – truly deeply embedded in your heart – that God is so totally and completely in love with you, boundaries are set up kind of naturally. Peacefully. To give and receive that kind of love – it is an amazing, life altering event.
It requires being really secure in who you are as a person, really secure as to who you are in Christ to have healthy boundaries, or the boundaries can be gate-less brick walls that keep everyone out. A boundary should be something that people can walk across if they are invited, but not break bones if they run into it. It should have a gate than can easily open to invite others in with the knowledge that they will be warmly welcomed.
At least when it isn’t locked -there are times for locks. Very, very, secure locks.
The bible speaks about a “hedge of protection” being around Job to keep Satan from him. We tend to think of this hedge as something to keep us safe from harm, the “devils” tactics, accidents or calamity. It was a hedge of densely grown thorn bushes – the type that would tear even the thickest coat on a wolf or other predator if he tried to go through.
Boundaries are that hedge for us. The hedge is our ability to say “no” to others for our own health and well-being. It is the wall that keeps others from stepping on us when our compassion or kindness begins to exceed our human abilities. It is a protective barrier when our trust, going the extra mile, or giving the benefit of the doubt is trounced upon by another.
It keeps others from getting cut when they push too far and walk upon broken glass. Better a hedge than bloody and torn feet.
When the hedge is in place it acts as a barrier against the storms and allows the waves of grace to wash over us and smooth the broken shards into beauty. It gives us the strength and peace to extend grace, so that when others do overstep a boundary we don’t make them bleed. We give them a shard free space to retreat. God’s grace is always a shard free zone.
The most effective catalyst for lasting change is the unconditional love of God; sweeping motivation from the inside out.
Instead of being met by shards of failed perfection, smooth stones reflect the beauty and glory of God. He will do the work in us, and in others, if we just get out-of-the-way and let Him.
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.
Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
the rough ways smooth.
And all people will see God’s salvation.’ ” Luke 3:4b -6