We forgive and we restore. But what if the person continues the same hurtful things as before? We are called for forgive, but not live painful patterns. Be wise and use boundaries.
Isaiah 51 shows God’s heart for healthy relationship. The story’s backdrop is how God’s people repeatedly dishonored their relationship with Him. Therefore, God put boundaries in place and distanced Himself removing His protection from them. As a result, Israel’s enemies found victory over them and misused them badly. Did God revel in their defeat? No. Despite the boundaries, God still loved them and had compassion on them when they repented. It angered Him to see someone misuse His people. Read the conclusion of this story:
This is what your Sovereign LORD says, your God, who defends his people:
“See, I have taken out of your hand the cup that made you stagger; from that cup, the goblet of my wrath, you will never drink again. I will put it into the hands of your tormentors, who said to you, ‘Fall prostrate that we may walk on you.’ And you made your back like the ground, like a street to be walked on.” – Isaiah 51:22-23 NIV
Ever feel like you have been walked all over? Like your back is a street someone keeps trampling? God becomes angry when his people are walked upon.
As Christians, we are called to forgive but we are not called to be in unhealthy relationships. When Israel misused Him, He distanced himself until they found repentance. He loved them. He had compassion toward them, but there were boundaries in place until something changed. We handle our relationships the same.
Any relationship of duration will have bumps along the way. But, if someone is dishonoring your relationship through repeated offenses consider placing boundaries. Especially for family members. Family patterns and roles have some strength to them, but you can be the change.
Boundaries are not walls erected out of fear, nor are they a product of punishment and anger. We forgive. We love. We are compassionate. We are strong. We use boundaries while the steps for forgiveness and restoration play out.
It may take time to build the bridge and restore that relationship. God empowers us to make and maintain healthy boundaries so that we do not become misused or a street trodden upon.
Healthy boundaries become the change agent. When we take a loving stand and place a healthy boundary, the purpose is to initiate change. Remember the steps to restoration? Confront, forgive and then make clear the new standard. This is where boundaries come in. If you can hold the line, without backing down, you will usually see change.
If that person loves you they will not want to hurt you. The hurtful behavior stops because they long for restoration. If they do not, then it is not a relationship you need to be deeply involved in. Protect yourself and your children or grandchildren by using healthy boundaries. Our children learn from our relationships and will either grow to have healthy ones or mimic our unhealthy patterns. Raise them to be loving, forgiving and strong.
Read Isaiah 51:22-23, Proverbs 9:8 and pray Proverbs 13:20.
Father, help me discern my relationships and to teach my children to be wise. For, ” Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”