Learning to Love: Honesty and Boundaries

While I was on Sabbatical, the Lord did  a one-on-one tutorial on relational health. Yes. It was frightening. Because if you are like me, you think you are one of the “mature” people walking around doing life in health and wholeness.

But God. When Jesus steps into the picture of emotional health, the bar is raised to a new level. The sermon on the mount was not a standard for us to try to reach up to, but rather a standard of heaven that exposed  Just How Much We Need Jesus. In the same way,  emotional health seen through the lens of heaven is very different from our reality.

I am breaking all this down in more detail in my book, but I want to prime the pump but talking about honesty and boundaries.  To be honest…I find unbelievers can often deal in reality better than believers.  Somewhere along the line we have swallowed just enough Sunday School lessons on kindness and “turn the other cheek” that we think Jesus was  some kind of emotional marshmallow and thus that is our goal.  We are so paralyzed by by the thought of hurting someone, or that person retaliating, that we flat out lie. Did you hear me? We lie. We gloss, avoid, tell half-truths, exaggerate or just full blown fibs…we lie.

On the contrary, Jesus never lied.

Let that soak in— Jesus. Never. Lied.

Not to the disciples, not to the weak and hurting, not to Pilate, not to the Pharisees and Saducees.

He was Truth. And so he spoke truth at all costs, regardless of potential hurt because he knew that the truth would set us free.  Alas. We don’t like this. It is waaaaay too vulnerable. And so we grab from Paul the standard  verse in Ephesians to “Speak the truth in love.”

However it does not say…

“speak the truth in denial” or

“speak the gossip in love” or

“avoid the truth in love” or

“speak the truth only if the people still like you” or

“speak the truth regardless of whether it kills the other.”

Do you see we need the lens of Heaven? I heard it said once that Jesus  always fully spoke the truth and yet you had never felt so fully loved in your life. Fully truth, fully loved. This is what the Spirit is after.

It is not enough for you to love, and yet you lie. It is not enough for you to be honest, and yet you don’t love the other person.

Enter boundaries.  Most of us are dishonest because we don’t feel safe. In fact, we often are not in safe environments. And this is where boundaries become our holy guardrails.

1) Boundaries are for me, not the other person.  Boundaries help me feel safe from others. I am not responsible for others’ safety. They are. (How did I miss this?)

2) Boundaries create a safe place for me so that I can hear God for myself.  If I can only hear other people’s expectations, demands, pressures, then I can’t hear God for myself. Boundaries help me move those people out a distance until I can again hear the voice of God.

I love this. But does this mean I get to be a hermit, safe inside my own little Jesus world? Not quite.

“But over all these things, put on love.”

How many prophets must ask us: Have you learned to love?

Have we learned to love fully? Not just the beautiful and thrilling and delightful parts of a person, but the weak and ugly and continually maturing parts of a person.

We don’t lie about or deny the ugly parts, and we don’t lack boundaries to protect ourselves from them. But we press into learn how to love. Jesus sees us all fully. And yet he love us fully. This is our model and our goal.

May we learn how to speak the truth. May we learn how to have boundaries so we can hear the Voice of Love above all. And may we learn how to love.

Be tolerant with each other and, if someone has a complaint against anyone, forgive each other. As the Lord forgave you, so also forgive each other.  And over all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. The peace of Christ must control your hearts—a peace into which you were called in one body. And be thankful people.

Colossians 3: 13-15




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