Photo by Ralph Katieb on Unsplash

Clarifying Thoughts on Boundaries

Recently, I wrote a piece about establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries with those closest to you.

In that article, I said, “Metaphorically speaking, keeping others on designated trails through your life that you have prepared for them is good for both of you.”

More recently, however, I wrote a different piece recommending that one should live a life of vulnerable openness and love — that, essentially, one should love with the love of a martyr. The consequence of such radical love would be to accept any suffering, particularly and especially emotional suffering, that results from such radically vulnerable love.

These two approaches appear at odds with each other. So, let me try to reconcile the apparent cognitive dissonance.

Radical, vulnerable love is something one can show when they have sufficiently released attachments to this world and its struggles. So, loving with the love of a martyr, while ideal, is something that very few people will be able to do, because most people maintain so many attachments to things, people, relationships, etc. in this world that they won’t be able to love with that kind of vulnerability and fearlessness.

For anyone who aspires to love that way, but isn’t there yet, I believe establishing and maintaining the boundaries necessary to be healthy as you cultivate your inner life and work towards releasing worldly attachments is a positive thing to do.

Loving with the love of a martyr is a calling. Doing that almost certainly involves a degree of emotional risk. It’s something one should only attempt when they sincerely believe God has called them to do so, and when they have sufficiently released as many attachments to this world as they can. Only the strongest faith and devotion to God and others can sustain such radical love.

Of course, one should avoid intentionally enabling any kind of psychological (or physical) abuse. That is as uncharitable for the abuser as for the abused person.

If you’re concerned that one or more of your relationships may involve emotional abuse, you especially should consider putting in place one or more Safeguards That Offer Protection (STOP)* in order to remain safe and healthy.

If you’re unfamiliar with the signs of emotional abuse, here is a good article that can help you recognize them:

If you’re dealing with a manipulative spouse, this article has some insights from which you might benefit:

If you need resources to help you recover from emotional abuse, this page is a good starting place:

* Thanks to Marriage Helper for this term.

© 2021 Noel Bagwell. All Right Reserved.



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