Today was a busy day with clients. As I was praying with my final couple for the day, I was moved to tears as we laid our petitions before our heavenly Father. Life brings painful circumstances; parents hurt us, children make choices that leave us feeling like failures, and our own choices have consequences that we can’t even begin to anticipate. Helping people put healthy boundaries into place is a valuable tool, but can produce great sadness. We all need to love with wisdom and learn how to live out that love in such a way that God is still glorified. By His grace, we have guidelines by which we can do this.
I’m a big fan of the book of Proverbs and use it to clarify the decisions that allow me to establish these kinds of boundaries. In “The Message,” Proverbs 9:7 spells out one of my measures for those I allow within my personal boundaries:
If you reason with an arrogant cynic, you'll get slapped in the face; confront bad behavior and get a kick in the shins. So don't waste your time on a scoffer; all you'll get for your pains is abuse. But if you correct those who care about life, that's different—they'll love you for it! Save your breath for the wise—they'll be wiser for it; tell good people what you know—they'll profit from it. Skilled living gets its start in the Fear-of-God, insight into life from knowing a Holy God. It's through me, Lady Wisdom, that your life deepens, and the years of your life ripen. Live wisely and wisdom will permeate your life; mock life and life will mock you.
By applying this scripture I can make wise choices and avoid the painful consequences of loving people unwisely. That may mean that some people who have proven themselves dangerous or untrustworthy will be on the outskirts of my boundaries. I love them, but I love them from a distance. By loving in this fashion, I prevent damage to my soul while maintaining a loving spirit towards the individual, and more importantly, God is glorified as I learn to love wisely.