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September 15, 2020

“Do the Most Compassionate People Have the Strongest Boundaries? A Look at Jesus’ Boundaries.”


As a tween, he remained in the city of Jerusalem to satisfy his longings for spiritual connection and meaning. His parents were not best pleased after searching for him for three days. His answer: “Didn’t you know I would be in the house of my father?”  In my family, we have decided to hear that as a soft “Oh, didn’t you know?”, a steady but caring reply. He sought what he needed, but paid attention to the inconvenience it caused others.


That first miracle, changing the water into wine, was an accidental miracle. When a wedding party at Cana was running out of wine, Jesus’ mother mentioned it to him. He asked his mother what it had to do with him; it wasn’t the day for him to show his transformative nature. For her part, she ignores his preference but leaves it up to him to take the next step. She tells the servants to do whatever he asks. Jesus tells them to fill their jugs with water and take them to the host, whereupon the host tastes the best wine that ever passed his lips. He stated his preference and then bent to another’s wish.


When he went to the River Jordan to be baptized into his mission by his cousin John, John was confused. The cousin was uncomfortable. Here he had been, eating locusts out in the wilderness and preaching that a holy man who would change everything was the reason people needed to be baptized, and now… so uncomfortable.

But, Jesus, said in his now accustomed manner, “Let it be, for now, because it brings things to fulfillment.” He showed respect to John by seeing his objection and offering a way to understand. He asked for what he wanted while acknowledging that the other person was deeply affected.


It is said that he baffled the devil three times, staying in alignment with his true self rather than allowing silvery words to blow him so far that he couldn’t return.

Even at his weakest, hungry and alone, he remembered who he really was, and cared for that central goodness in himself rather than be used by another.


When thousands of villagers had come to hear him but were getting hungry, he determined to provide a meal. “We only have 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread,” his disciples said. Jesus had already fed the people in his heart, and no logistical barrier was going to remove his intention.  He first formed his intention and then with quiet confidence carried it out, despite being the only one with the broader vision.


So far, I can see that Jesus had a core of trust in his own wisdom and goodness. He had a quiet dignity which is what we substitute boundaries for, like “fake it until you make it.”  The psychological term “boundaries” is helpful because it puts the onus on us, rather than leaving us in victimhood.


Perhaps learning to set boundaries fortifies our dignity and trust in our wisdom and goodness. These are not necessarily products of decades of living, but I think can be accessed by a five-year-old. A child in a safe, loving environment naturally has intuition of his or her goodness and core wisdom.


As adults, we must be self-conscious about what we give and what we accept, filtering out toxins and catching ourselves at co-dependency. Beneath all this, roars the Niagara of our pure love, this joyful embrace of life which flows onward over the rocks of our decades, exhausting itself with perfection.


We can be strength and flow, go where we need to go, undulate around the obstacles.

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Heidi McArdle  |  Contribution: 26,925