The Tension of Boundaries:
Boundaries are tricky. In thinking about boundaries, I’ve swayed between “No one can abuse me at all’ and “I’ll turn the other cheek when someone hurts me, like God says.” I think the reason Christian’s don’t quite know HOW to act on our boundaries is because we aren’t sure what boundaries to set.
There are so many different opinions.
One view: I heard one evangelist talk about how a man raped her daughter and she welcomed him anyway into her home. While that would usually be an extreme violation of boundaries deserving of an extreme consequence, the man was shown grace, which led to him seeing God.
Another view: Boundaries NEED consequences. When kids break rules, they need a timeout or the rule is meaningless. Same with boundaries. If someone breaks my boundary, I give a consequence, otherwise the boundary is empty. Sometimes I can’t give others a consequence (like if my boss disrespects me), but my consequence for THEIR actions could be for ME to confront them, or tell them less information about my life.
I believe both these things are truth, but I’ve had such trouble learning how these two truths combine. We want to be Christ-like, and Christ was loving and serving, yet somehow not a doormat. He accepted persecution, but didn’t self-loath and believe He was deserving of it.
What I see in today’s society are two groups- one that is so stubborn on not getting put down that they forget to love others, and one that focuses so much on not offending others that they fail to confront when offended. I think both of these extremes are a bit cowardly, and yet I fall into both at one time or another.
I started asking God how to have a perfect balance, and I felt Him showing me that to focus on one way alone may not be what people need. For example, if I told a battered woman about loving through persecution, she may see abuse as her cross to bear (which is NOT what I mean). Meanwhile if I focus on having consequences for boundaries, I may be encouraging someone to continue in their ways of protection without servanthood, never wanting to forgive people who hurt them.
It’s a huge tension of Christianity.
The One Thing I Know:
What I did feel him leading me to is this distinct sense of identity that will help each of us in achieving the balance between the two tensions.
This identity is crucial. I felt Him telling me I am a queen. And that the boundary around my self-worth is a boundary that shouldn’t shift based on situation.
I feel God encouraging us all to know we are kind, brave kings and queens. When people belittle us, ask too much of us, or insult us, we must MUST know we are royalty. I have taken this as far as literally picturing myself as a queen. Would a queen accept this behavior? No! She would know she is worth more than this! But would a (kind and brave) queen lash out in return? No! She would know her identity so soundly that any offense would be bounced off of her self-worth.
This knowing of our worth acts as the greatest boundary we can carry. It guards our heart, not by becoming callous or unaccepting of others words, but instead, by knowing that we are royalty. When someone crosses their rights into our lives, we know it isn’t our fault, but rather something he/she must be struggling with.
If a crazy lunatic comes up to the queen of England and spits on her, do you think she spits back? And this lack of revenge- is this because she thinks she is worthy of that spit? No! She knows she is so above the spit that the hate, while obviously upsetting, doesn’t affect her heart. In fact, she is most likely appalled at the audacity of someone to spit on her.
In the same way, we can have humble spirits, all while knowing our royal worth. We do not have to surrender our servanthood when we take up our crowns. I believe this knowing of our worth acts as the Queen’s guard/ or secret service.
While people may say cruel things or try to lash out, we have a bubble of worth around our hearts.
I believe this bubble can only be sustained when we have Jesus. It’s easy to convince ourselves that we are royal when people adore us, but when people spit at your feet, we need the base of Jesus… the unchanging base…to encourage us in our royalty.
For we see this in Jesus. He was the King of the Jews. He knew this even when people posted it sarcastically above his blood-stained cross. He KNEW his worth as royalty. Therefore, he could serve wholeheartedly. He could be persecuted without accepting that it was because HE must not be loved, worthy, or wonderful. Instead, He knew He was irreplaceable.
My friend, YOU are also irreplaceable. You are a coheir with Christ. And while some may push you, you must know that you are not deserving of it. You may suffer at times, but you also should address the persecutors with such a strong sense of identity. Boundaries aren’t the opposite of getting spit on, but they are the opposite of resting in the resolution of ‘I must be worthy of it.’ You can instead think, ‘This is not the behavior meant for me- I’m a king/queen. To know the royalty we are meant for- even when we feel like the peasants rather. What is meant for us is honor, respect, and love. This knowing- this secret service/queens guard- will help us in knowing how to navigate in the boundaries tension we have.
I urge us all to be brave. The balance of boundaries looks different for different people, but bravery is at the core of boundaries no matter how they look. For some of us, realizing our royalty will encourage us to confront the people who have walked over us, or to give space between us and them. For others, it will encourage us to love people and grant pardons when it feels unfair. I know it is hard to tell, but I think with realizing our royalty, we have a strong boundary around our self-worth and we can better know how to act in kindness and bravery.
Walk tall and proud, my most royal of friends. You have been called to greatness in Christ. You have the Queen’s Guard and the Secret Service around your heart and even the greatest of insults can not affect your worth.