Boundaries: Protecting Myself
Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. Genesis 9:23
When I got out of treatment back in 2014, I didn’t have a job. I’d lost my previous job at the hospital because I’d used my license to divert opioids for myself and frankly, I was a high risk for anyone to hire. Thankfully, the local clinic eventually took me on as an Urgent Care provider. Early in my time there though, discussions began to swirl regarding the injectable opioids which were stored in my department. I purposefully avoided such conversations. For my own recovery and for my own protection against suspicion, I wanted it to be clear that I had no idea how to access those medications. I understood that these discussions were occurring because of me. When the security procedures changed, and when we eventually got rid of all opioids in Urgent Care, it felt like it was my fault. I didn’t care though. I was glad. My previous job allowed me access to opioids – which was not the hospital’s fault – but now, I was able to take care of patients without putting myself at risk. As awkward as it all may have been, the new plan was an appropriate boundary that existed for my own protection.
Yesterday, I wrote about how we will often have to get out of our comfort zone if we want to help others. Getting involved in the lives of those who’re struggling is often messy. Today’s blog though, is the warning – When helping others, we must maintain appropriate boundaries so that their disaster doesn’t become our disaster. It does no good if, in trying to help those struggling, we destroy ourselves. When attempting to help our neighbors, It’s appropriate and necessary to maintain boundaries for our own protection.
Today’s passage illustrates this. In the story, Noah got drunk and lay exposed for all the world to see. Because this was tremendously shameful, Noah’s two sons, Shem and Japheth, covered his nakedness with a garment. As they did it though, they protected themselves. Laying eyes on their father’s nakedness would have been shameful to them, so, as they approached Noah with the covering, they walked backwards, avoiding taking their father’s sin upon themselves.
We can and should be willing to embrace discomfort to help those around us. Following Christ means getting our hands dirty. It does no one any good though if we destroy ourselves in the process. For our own protection, we must always maintain appropriate boundaries so that we don’t’ allow the destruction of others to become our own.