I have always wanted to live my life with a sense of vulnerability, but with healthy boundaries. I haven’t always known how to do this, though. I either get trampled on because I’m way too vulnerable, or I become so guarded, that resentment consumes me. It’s been a tight rope to balance, without falling to one side or the other and for the longest time, all I wanted was to jump off and land somewhere safe where I can walk with freedom. But over the years, I’ve been stuck on this rope, terrified of falling. knowing that’s not the way God wanted me to live, but not knowing how to find that middle ground. I’ve always been a people pleaser, trying to keep peace & afraid of conflict. I’ve tried to be kind and believe in the best of people, even when things pointed to the worst. Sometimes, that works out, but not always. As a christian, I believe I’m called to do those things, but with healthy boundaries and not a resentful heart.
Without a doubt, we’ve all befriended someone who started off friendly & respectful, only to later become harsh and unkind. We’ve given to others, only to have them take. We’ve invested in people, only to be used. We’ve been honest, only to witness their lies. We’ve trusted, only to be betrayed. We’ve listened only to be ignored. We’ve been available, only to be abandoned. We’ve loved, only to be hurt. Yes, it’s true. We have all gone through something in our lives that has given us the right to build our walls and not trust anyone. That’s just the way life is, and that’s just the way people are. But, think about it from a less-victimized angle. Have we not also, at some point in our lives, been the one who was unfriendly, harsh, or disrespectful? Have we not taken something that wasn’t ours or taken advantage of someone else’s vulnerability? Have we not also betrayed someones trust, or maybe even abandoned or hurt someone who loved us? We’d be lying if we said we haven’t. Intentionally or unintentionally, we are all imperfect. We were created with perfection by a perfect creator, but since the fall of man, we have become an imperfect people. How then do we remain vulnerable and still guard our hearts from pain?
We don’t. Life can be filled with happiness one day, then showered with pain another. People can steal our childhood innocence and leave us with wounded hearts. We can easily justify our resentments & put labels on each brick that form the walls around us, but life will always be infested with cancerous people. We are one of them. We think that the barriers we build, will keep us safe from each other, but in doing so, we become a prisoner within our own walls, drinking the poison of resentment that will eventually destroy us. Is that how we want to live? What good can come from living with walls so thick that nothing, not even good, can penetrate them? Resentment is our enemy. Walls don’t create safety, nor does vulnerability create weakness. Forgiveness is always our friend, but forgiveness doesn’t mean you give freedom to trespassers. Forgiveness doesn’t make you weak, it makes you wise. Wisdom then teaches us about boundaries.
Boundaries are simply lines drawn to define space without blocking the views. They establish the perimeters of ownership and freedom. They will allow others to enter, but with conditions. Permission is given when one enters with respect within that space. But when negativity or abuse knocks on our doors, boundaries say, “I will not let you in.” It reserves the right to say “no”. It doesn’t change people. It does, however, give us the ability to still see the person through the windows of God’s love, but not allow their sin to stain our carpets or harden our hearts.
I’m still learning how to live with this kind of freedom. It requires discipline to daily surrender my resentments and allow God to help me forgive those who have hurt me, as well as draw boundaries for peaceful living, without the distractions of my enemies. I’m reminded daily, by my own imperfections, that I cannot change the unchangeable. We are all capable of wrong-doing and defenseless to sin, without Christ. He gives us His spirit to overcome our flesh, but we cannot be filled with joy until we surrender our rights to our resentments. Joy comes from Christ alone. The battle is HIS, not ours. God wants to tear down the walls that are impenetrable of forgiveness, so that He can use us to show His love to others and draw all men unto Him. We are to step out and love the unlovable. It is my greatest challenge to live so vulnerable, especially knowing that my boundaries, alone will not always protect me from a forcible entry or potential pain. But even so, I must be willing to get hurt, if I am to love others with the love of Christ. I’m called to love my enemies and remain confident in my God to guard my life and fill my heart with joy.
Matt 5:43-47 You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.