Do Your Boundaries Love or Self-Protect?
“Hatred stirs up conflicts, but love covers all offenses.” (Proverbs 10:12)
“What is love? Baby don’t hurt me. Don’t hurt me. No more.” As I have been reflecting on what to write about love this month, I cannot get this high school song from Haddaway out of my head! Songs like these taught me about love. My female hormones were at its pinnacle sending out pheromones to lure every boy, acne and all.
Thankfully, I am growing up and though still elementary in my understanding of love, I am realizing these songs just may be a little misleading. The immediate answer to the question ‘What is love?’ is not ‘Baby don’t hurt me’. Love is not self-protective. However, don’t we live that way often? The truth is, the deeper we are in a relationship with someone, we get hurt. So how do we move past the hurt? Love.
I love marriage. Interestingly though, my husband and I have seen more of each other’s issues, bad habits, selfishness, impatience, anger, etc… So why is marriage even more amazing now than it was when we were dating? There is something secure, transforming and liberating when a person you deeply hurt does not hurt back but instead pursues you, hugs you and treats you with gentleness and tenderness when you know you deserve much worse.
There are no boundaries to love. As a licensed professional counselor, I am afraid boundaries are taught too often to self protect. Boundaries are necessary but the motivation behind it must be love. Boundaries are for the purpose of giving time and space to self-reflect to see how oneself could have contributed to the problem, heal from the wound and forgive so reconciliation can happen.
Often in counseling sessions, married couples pursue separation ‘to see if they want the marriage to work’. Separation is not for the purpose of questionable reconciliation. Separation should be approached as a time of reflection, healing and forgiveness so reconciliation can happen.
When reconciliation happens, you put yourself at a risk of being hurt again. I’m sorry. There are people who are going to hate me for writing this but I’m more concerned about there being people of character in healthy relationships rather than there being no relationships in this society. Divorce rates are increasing and fewer people want to be in relationships. A healthy relationship is not the absence of hurt but the ability to forgive, grow and reconcile in the hurt.
The strength in which my husband and I are able to die to our selfishness and pride, forgive each other repeatedly and pursue relentlessly when we hurt each other endlessly does not come from ourselves. It comes from our relationship with Jesus who is the perfect model of selfless, sacrificial love. Jesus died so we may live (John 3:16, I John 4:9-11). In turn, “we love because He first loved us.” (I John 4:19) Have you experienced such love before?