I sat down talking to a work colleague today and asked her how things were going. “Great!”, she replied. As we continued to talk, she told me how freeing it had been to put some boundaries down in a relationship, and although it was painful at first, it had birthed healthier relationships and a renewed sense of self-respect. As she continued to talk, my mind wandered to relationships that I had lost over the last few years.
“Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.”Genesis 12:1-2
This was, of course, not a new place my mind had traveled. The last few years have been hard. Depleting. An undoing of my soul of sorts. Relationships that had been broken, and a few continued to be broken. One relationship in particular had been broken for an eternity! Obviously that’s not the case, but when weeks turn into months and months into years, it certainly felt that way. Have you ever been here?
In my world, there have been long-standing fractured relationships within my childhood family. It has created sadness throughout my adult years. Birthdays and celebrations that normally would be special times with my immediate family are non-existent. And then there are the holidays….better know to me as HOLI-DAZE. I can’t begin to recount the number of holidays that have passed over the last fifteen years where I’ve been an emotional wreck. I bled emotionally during these special times. Years of rejection in my family has deeply hurt me.
We were created to be in relationship. After the Lord made Adam, the first man, he soon after made Eve because it was “not good for the man to be alone.” (Genesis 2: 18). Likewise, all of humanity craves meaningful and fulfilling relationships. And when relationships are broken, it can be emotionally very difficult. After all, I’m a people pleaser. Aren’t we all in some sense? People pleasers I’ve learned, carry a false send of responsibility for the the happiness of others. For years I felt it was my job to keep others happy around me; my siblings, my father, my friends, my employees, my in-laws, etc. People pleasers are also very sensitive to the rejection or judgment from others. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashful. On the contrary, most people find me probably quite outspoken. But the minute a rift develops in our relationship because I’ve laid down boundaries, I feel crushed. For many years, I would sit in this place of distress asking myself what I could have done differently, even when I knew it was no fault of my own.
Whether it has been friends or family, laying down healthy boundaries can be costly. You risk rejection and ultimately the relationship. And those are places of deep hurt. But, you must have enough self-respect to lay down boundaries in your relationships. You have a right to live a balanced life without feeling guilty. Those that find their confidence in Christ will not be ruled by fractured, controlling or one-sided relationships.
Bottom line? I want a good reputation with God, not people. And you should too, even if you have to leave it all. Abraham had to leave it all behind, even his family, to follow God. I’ve also had to leave family and friends behind to follow God. Painful at first, but God always seems to find a way to reward me double for my trouble; my marriage, growing family and tremendous group of friends that are like an extended family.
These days I no longer focus on the “holi-daze.” No more feeling guilt over what truly is not. Instead, I focus on what I’m building and where I’m going. Out of the pain of dissolved relationships has come a sense of holy gratitude for all that God has given me.