“Do not let any unwholesome word go forth out of your mouth, but only good, for edification of the need, so that it may give grace to those hearing.” Ephesians 4:29 Berean Standard Bible
“At your absolute best, you still won’t be good enough for the wrong person.” — Unknown
Perfection. It’s not possible for you or for me. This is when striving, willpower and all sorts of gymnastics drive us, especially during the holidays. Drives us to frustration, meltdowns or to a heavenly discussion with our Father.
And it cuts both ways. Others can’t do perfection. Only one man in all of history was perfect. We know what happened to him.
Someone once said, “I may not seem like much, but you should’ve seen where I started.” There’s so much truth in this.
My mom was a controlling, anxiety-driven and sometimes cruel person who was 20-years-old when I was born. It took me years to realize why. I was an independent, dramatic, obsessive and compulsive adolescent. Left home twice. Both of us were doing the best we could and it was horrible!
My mother was just a little vulnerable girl and very poor during the Great Depression. I grew up during the Free Love, Viet Nam War era. Neither one of us could relate to each other and some counseling was in order. Mom would not go. I did. I learned so much about my mom and her anxiety which, being a child, I internalized. I learned what a drama queen I was and still can be (sigh). Eventually, I let go of what I internalized: a bad person, a bad child, no good. My mom was wrong. It had very little to do with me. But, because I was a child, I carried that baggage for years! My mom carried hers.
Then forgiveness. You’ve heard the expression, “There but for the grace of God go I.” If I had been born in the same situation, I could’ve been my mom. Yes, it hurt. Yes, it took a long, long time for healing. I began to feel some pity for my mom’s life—some painful results were the result of her own choices, as were mine. “That was a hurtful thing you said. Please don’t or I will leave,” I said shakily. Leaving the past in the past is no quick and easy venture.
Myth: Boundaries won’t be painful or scary. Yes, they are painful and scary but “walking on eggshells” is no cake-walk either. We don’t set boundaries alone. We have our Father. We have others to help us. We don’t scream, cry, beg or manipulate. Nix the dramatics. We just state, unemotionally, what’s acceptable and what’s not. The best we are able.
Myth: Boundaries mean all will be well. No. Many times we lose that person in our life. It can be freeing after some grieving and reflection and recognition of patterns—but we continue to live in the light of our Father’s love and others who live in the Father’s love.
Myth: We only have to set them once. Once again, nope. Depending on the situation, the person and the willingness you have to keep this person in your life, you will set boundaries over and over. Also, other people with similar personalities and baggage appear and you have the wonderful task of setting boundaries again. Count on it! Patterns.
This side of heaven, we will never be perfect. We will never perfectly handle situations or people. We get better. Others will never be perfect. They get better. We all are at different places and came from different backgrounds. Some of us started life in the hole. Some of us had a loving foundation. The great equalizer: We are all doing the best we can with grace.
Is it true? Is it helpful? Is it kind? These questions can be a helpful guide for you and communicating with others in your lives.
Is it true? Is it helpful? Is it kind? Your Son modeled all of this for our sakes. On the cross he said, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they’re doing.” Unconscious. Unaware. So much of the evil in this world would be gone if we loved like you. We only have to practice this today, which is challenging, but your grace keeps us on your path. Thank you.