Boundaries are such an important thing – physical or emotional or spiritual.
Too rigid and they alienate others or suffocate yourself.
Too loose and you aren’t safe.
Gotta get them just right.
This week the boundaries relate to friends.
Sometimes a social little boy like my son gets friendships a little out of proportion.
A bit of peer worship.
You know, the kind of thing where your mom would say to you “If so and so jumped off a bridge you would too.”
Only in this case my boy is afraid to do the right thing because it might bring on the ire of another child who doesn’t want the right thing done.
It’s been a struggle and a stress for him – be nice to the awkward new boy in school and risk the ire of the strong class leader, or ignore the awkward new boy.
As the mom it would be so easy to just say “you have to be nice to the new awkward boy.”
But I’m not sure that would teach my boy the more important lesson here.
See, he already knows the kindness is the right thing, and he already had decided that is what he was going to do.
But the real teaching opportunity here – in my humble opinion – is in teaching him not to allow the friendship of the class leader to get out of proportion.
See, the class leader is a really neat boy – that’s part of why he is the class leader. He’s dynamic, charismatic, smart, athletic, funny – all the things that are wonderful in a ten-year old boy.
He just has human frailties.
He’s growing and learning himself, and he makes mistakes along the way.
And he doesn’t like the new awkward boy.
Honestly, the awkward boy is annoying much of the time.
But he’s also lonely.
And J has complained that awkward boy makes things harder on himself by saying just the wrong thing at just the worst time.
It can be a source of frustration for everyone.
Just when I thought we had it down, I found out there were more teaching moments.
My boy determined he was going to support the new awkward boy, but he developed an attitude towards the leader boy and others who were not being so kind.
Started throwing down ultimatums like “If they can’t be nice to the new boy then they are true friends to me.”
Oh, oh, oh! Wait just a second.
Spiritual boundary needed here.
Judgment belongs to the Lord, not the 10 year old fifth grade boy.
So we worked on that – your friends are your friends, and it’s okay if they don’t like one another.
You need boundaries so you don’t let others control you.
But don’t put up so many boundaries that there is no chance for relationship just because the other person turn out to be a human who sometimes has sinful attitudes.
Remember, keep those boundaries up so you know who you are separate and apart from others, but down far enough that you can enjoy the others God has put in your life.