The hard part of any relationship is the setting of boundaries. Or maybe, the hardest part is when someone you love hurts you and you need to set boundaries. At least, it feels hard because of what we have been taught, or haven’t been taught, about love. Remember when we talked about what love really is? How it can look different than we think it should? Too often, if someone tells us to love and forgive they simply want us to get over the hurt caused. But in a mature relationship each party needs to take full responsibility for themselves.
This can be difficult for both the person who hurt, and the one who was hurt. After all, for the one who was hurt it’s often easier to sweep everything under the carpet and pretend it didn’t exist. It’s easier to ignore the hurt and blow it off. It’s easier and less messy to blame yourself for something another person did. And it's way easier for the one who hurt us if we do those things, too. Many will be fine and dandy with you doing those things because they don't have to face up to what they did. Confrontation can be scary, and big, and we don't have everything together ourselves either so it will be messy. But we need to bite the bullet and do it when it's needed.
We aren’t really loving them, or ourselves, when we don't address an issue. Most times we aren’t acting out of love when we behave in these ways, but rather fear.
When we love someone we want them to be their best. When we love someone we want the best for them. If their behavior is such that they are hurting others and themselves, we don’t want them to continue this behavior for the sake of those they are hurting, and for their own sake. We don’t want to see them become ugly mean people, but if they keep treating people badly that is what will happen. They may also end up alone because of it. So we need to stand up and give them the space to see their own behavior, accept responsibility for it, and hopefully learn from the consequences they caused. Sometimes all this requires is a discussion. Sometimes it requires us stepping back and keeping space between us and the other. While it doesn’t feel like it, in doing so we are loving them. We love them enough to let God take care of them and keep our mess out of it.
Our own bad behaviors can keep us from addressing a situation correctly. Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend address four ways we have a tendency towards behaving in Boundaries. We can become compliant, avoidant, controlling, or nonresponsive and in so doing we bring hurt to the situation and not love. In the next two days I want to address these four behaviors and look at how we can change how we respond to those who hurt us so we are more loving.