There's a lot of talk about having personal boundaries and not letting people infringe on them. We learn it is not healthy to let people take advantage of or step over those lines. When I wrote my post the other day with the quote by Oswald Chambers, it stirred up a lot of conflict for me.
Oswald challenges us to be doormats. That raised my hackles right away. I mean, come on! I was someone's doormat for 15+ years and I ain't never going back to that! I don't believe Christ calls me to live a life without safeguards in place. Does He? I'm struggling with this.
I understand that people who go into the mission field full-time make huge sacrifices. They give up financial security as they live day to day on the generosity of others. They sacrifice personal safety as they go into places deemed dangerous. They risk being persecuted for being a Christian. They face criticism from others who might not understand this crazy call on their lives, especially calls that might involve bringing your young children into the mission field with you.
But all I'm talking about in my own life, my own personal conviction, is loving those God places in my path, without reservation, without conditions, without fearing the risk of being hurt.
Let me tell you a true story. Strange, but true.
The other night as we were hosting guests and getting ready to sit down for dinner we had a knock at the door. Bruce went to answer it, me at his heels. There on our front stoop stood a young girl, maybe 18-20. Dark skin, tiny, pretty but dressed--and there is just no other way to say this-- like a hooker. We're talking cut down to there and up to here, short and revealing. And tight. And her shoes? Bootie-type shoes. Definitely hooker shoes. She looked a little disorientated and her approach was shy yet her request was as bold as you please. She wanted to know if she could borrow our lawn mower to mow the neighbors yard because she and her boyfriend were desperate for some cash.
Okay. Wait a minute. We've had people from time to time find their way to our door to ask for gas money or food and even once, a place to stay. I don't know how they pick our house out of any other house on the street but perhaps it has something to do with a flashing neon sign above our home with an arrow pointing down. ( I kid!) Somehow people seem to know that this house might grant them favor. (and for that I am grateful, in a mixed up sort of way, and we'll save that discussion for another post) Anyway, we've never had this strange of a request. Ask for money for gas, sure. But you want to borrow my lawn mower to mow someone else's yard? How did you know we had a lawn mower to borrow? What made you think we might say yes? How do we know you won't take off with it and try and sell it (crappy piece of machinery that it is, but still!)
My immediate reaction was NO WAY and I did my best to convey that thought through facial expressions that only my husband could see. But Bruce operates under slightly different principles than me. Walking with her down the driveway a bit so she could point out which neighbor needed a lawn mowed, he asked her why she chose our house. She told him Jesus said to ask us. (it's the neon sign and arrow!)
Short story is Bruce got the lawn mower out of the shed and with some instructions for operating our tricky machine, sent her down the road with it. I wasn't happy but I also know better than to argue with my sweetie when I can tell he has good reason for deciding this is the right thing to do.
Later in private Bruce and I discussed the randomness of this girl coming to our house for help. Bruce allowed that it was strange indeed, and certainly a little sketchy. But a lawn mower is just a lawn mower and he believes in holding on to material things lightly. He is always more interested in what is going on in a persons heart and head and if lending out a lawn mower will allow him a closer peek into their life in order that he might speak God's Truth, than so be it.
This is a prime example of love without borders to me. Where I would have said no way and closed the door and shook my head, Bruce stepped out of the house to learn more. In the process he heard her mention Jesus and a little more conversation took place because of that. She left to get better shoes on before she took the mower down the street and when she returned she was also wearing a t- shirt over her dress. The T-shirt was from a Mercy Me concert ( Christian rock band) Bruce made comment on the shirt and more conversation ensued. She allowed that she wasn't exactly living a life she should be and seemed to be kind of mixed up with some one not the safest and was trying to get her life straightened out. I am sure there is much more to her story and we can debate to the authenticity of her words but the bottom line for my husband was/is: love her. Love the lost. Love our neighbors. Love. Just love. And yep, you might get hurt in the process. You might be taken advantage of. You might get stepped on. But still, love.
Now I suppose if she took off with the mower and never brought it back and then showed up one day to ask if she could borrow our rototiller, Bruce would say no. Because why should we enable bad behavior? But in the beginning go ahead and take the risk sometimes.
I know my own conviction about loving fully comes from the relationships closest to me. As I said in yesterdays' post, I struggle in the relationship with my mom. As a child, I experienced more than one occasion of what borders on physical abuse from her hands. Emotional abuse was also part of the experience. But as a young mother I developed a better relationship with her. For some time we had a pretty good, fairly close relationship. As she has aged and certain things in her brain have changed, the communication process has gotten more difficult. The memories of those negative experiences of the past have a way of rising up and taunting me when she acts cranky. So I put up my guard to protect myself but as I do, I put a restriction of just how much love I feel for her will be let out.
This is the conundrum. I want to love. Fully. Completely. Without holding back. How do I do that while still maintaining some control over my life and keeping personal boundaries in place?
There are many people who come in and out of my life that we refer to as EGR's. (Extra Grace Required) How do I show love to them without getting sucked into their vortex of crazy? We say things like "not my circus, not my monkeys" and laugh but does that mean I close the door in their face and miss the opportunity to share Jesus with them?
I don't have the answers to these questions plaguing me right now and I'm not writing this to try and convince anyone else that Oswald really does mean be a doormat. What if loving fully means becoming a doormat under other peoples feet? What if being poured out as a living sacrifice is the only way to truly experience a full life in Christ? Am I willing? Will I go there?
As I said yesterday, I want to say yes.I want to live a full life. I don't want to miss out on what God really has in store for me. Exploring this will be by the grace of God. I invite you to ride along with me and help hold me accountable. There will be more to come...