We previously looked at scriptural support for boundaries as well as the ultimate goal of reconciliation. Also, we defined what boundaries are and reviewed some reasons that may warrant them. Now let’s continue by answering “who” may require boundaries and “when” boundaries may be considered.
WHO – INDENTIFYING THE BOUNDARY TARGET
Would boundaries be appropriate for everyone during my personal quiet time? Should children have boundaries so I can spend quality time with my spouse? Does an ex-spouse need boundaries to maintain relational civility? Are there unhealthy or unsafe people in my life from whom I need to distance myself? Would there ever be an appropriate time to implement a boundary with my boss?
Here is a radical thought: be careful when placing boundaries on friends or family. They deserve and expect open dialogue and conflict resolution instead of distance and avoidance. If the conflict is with a friend, that relationship demands a thorough discussion toward resolution – even if both sides agree to disagree. If resolution is not possible, then question the level of friendship. If the issue is with a family member, here again that relationship demands open, non-judgmental dialogue first. Understandably, family relationships can get complicated. These are my blood, part of my shared genetic pool with whom I have grown up, roughed up, laughed at and with, and grown the closest to since childhood. If at all possible, family should be the last group to warrant boundaries instead of reconciliation.
The Scriptural process of reconciliation is that, if we “remember your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and…be reconciled to your brother” (Matthew 5:23-24).
The issue is twofold: when someone has something against me or when I have something against someone. Both require an encounter with open dialogue. The key is to first bring up the conversation so all parties are aware of the matter. Satan loves enflaming division based on perceptions that do not resemble reality. After disclosing the issue, seek common ground. If agreement is not possible, unity must still prevail. “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1). If agreement is not attainable, we are called to be peacemakers. “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it” (Psalm 34:14).
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