Boundaries

By: Diane Hannan

James 1:22-24

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.

 

The women’s ministry at our church periodically recruits women to participate in spiritually enriching programs. As Coordinator, I congratulated the ministry team on the registration they had successfully obtained. However, the Marketing Coordinator expressed her disappointment at the number of participants. Trying to be reassuring, I replied that “the Holy Spirit had brought the women that needed to be with us.” This angered her. She stood and stormed out.

I struggled with what happened, talked with my WCIC sisters, consulted a mentor, spoke with my spouse and brought the matter to daily prayer. Across the kitchen table from my husband, I had a shameful revelation. I have been this woman. I have similarly spewed negative, hurtful accusations at members of my own family.

First, I sought my family’s forgiveness. Second, through email, I invited her to meet with a trusted mediator and myself. It was a difficult session. It became clear that she had been accumulating a list of grievances against me for months. She made insinuating remarks, which she later admitted were meant to be intentionally hurtful.

Somehow, I chose not to retaliate. I asked her to forgive me for not recognizing her pain. By God’s grace, we were able to reconcile, restore respectful boundaries, and move forward to work together in our ministry. By observing her behavior, I saw what I was capable of doing to my loved ones and strangers. God blessed me with this realization. My continued interactions with her remind me of the personal boundaries I need to set in order to have a positive impact on my family and ministry life.

 

TAKE THE CHALLENGE: How have I responded during conflicts with my coworkers or peers?