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Boundaries Are Hard

Boundaries Are Hard

As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. Titus 3:10-11

When my son was three or four, he was walking around the house one day when he dropped something and immediately said, “Dammit!” He used it perfectly, which I found amusing but also somewhat alarming. Where did he hear that? We had a couple of guys working on a construction project on our house at the time and though they were good guys, their language was a little coarse. Dammit was not the worst thing I’d heard them say. I knew I had to have a talk about their language. I didn’t want my kids picking up more of those colorful words.

I knew I needed to address the issue, but I didn’t want to do it. Why? Why would I not immediately do whatever I could to put a stop to something that I believed was detrimental to my kids? It’s because confrontation is uncomfortable for me. Saying no can be difficult. Establishing boundaries is often painful. In the end however, I had to accept that my comfort level was not the most important thing in this situation. I did talk to the guys, and they graciously changed their language for my kids.

Working in addiction medicine, I often have to say no. Those struggling with addiction sometimes want things that would be harmful to them. It’s not uncommon to have to enforce boundaries. My patients will sometimes engage in behavior that is inconsistent with previously established expectations and occasionally, I must remind them of that. There are even extreme situations when I must discontinue a relationship with a patient. All of these things are difficult because they make me uncomfortable. I must regularly remind myself though, that my comfort level isn’t my greatest priority. Doing what’s right is.

In today’s passage, Paul instructed Titus to abandon relationships with those bent on hurting themselves and the church. He told Titus to confront them with a warning twice, and then if nothing changed, to end the relationship.

Often, as Christians, we feel that cutting someone out of our lives isn’t Christ-like but in today’s passage, Paul gave us permission to not allow the destruction of others to damage us. It’s sometimes necessary to abandon a toxic relationship. This isn’t easy. It’s painful, and the closer the relationship, the more difficult it becomes. At those times, we must remember that our immediate comfort isn’t our top priority. Rather, doing what is right is our primary motivation. Boundaries can be painful, but sometimes, they’re absolutely necessary.

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