Tag Archives: love your neighbor

Love Draws Boundaries

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

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When Jesus went off by himself to pray and walked away from the crying masses, he was teaching us that it is not only necessary to say no sometimes, it is godly to love fully with boundaries in place. If it feels like you are selfish or unkind unless you agree to jump whenever a friend or loved one says they need you, consider the following.

Boundaries protect our ability to love 

How often have you felt something you signed up to do was too much, and you were tempted to shut yourself in and never say yes again to anyone? Contrary to what we often assume, boundaries save relationships.

About 8 years ago, I hit a needy patch. I reached out to two friends whom I’ll call Ms. Boundaries and Ms. Intentions.

Ms. Boundaries listened to my sorrows and expressed concern. She said, “I’ll check on you soon”, and she did. There were days between her contacts. My emotions told me I needed her more than that. She was patient, compassionate, and assured me she cared, but drew her boundary. She was not slave to my emotions, not co-dependent, and not a doormat. She made no false promises.

Ms. Intentions also listened to my sorrows. She said “I’m here for you. Anything you need. Contact me any time.” My pain seemed all consuming to me, so it was easy to take her up on her offer. She answered every plea.

Ms. Intentions burned-out and seemed to resent her loss of freedom. Her inability to say “no” encouraged my dependence on her. Suddenly, she disappeared from my life. I haven’t heard from her since.

These years later, Ms. Boundaries and I are still friends. Knowing her limits and preserving herself saved our relationship for which I am grateful.

Which individuals actually show support in positive, meaningful, and effective ways? Is it the one who gives freely and gladly, or the one who gives with a smile while internally cringing? The person who does not make easy promises; or the one who fails to deliver on impulsively offered promises? The friend who remains a friend, or the ex-friend who walks away in frustration?

Love draws boundaries.

Today’s Helpful Word  

Proverbs 19:2 (CJB) 

“To act without knowing how you function is not good; and if you rush ahead, you will miss your goal.”

 

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

How Loving God Makes You a Better Support

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

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One quote from Jesus that has received a lot of press, is “Love your neighbor.” Most people seem to have heard it whether they know where it came from or not. Many probably are not aware it is only part of a powerful statement.

A man asked Jesus which one of all God’s rules and regulations was the most important. Jesus’ surprising answer was this:

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’  The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”   (Mark 12:30, 31)

Well, that narrows it down, doesn’t it? One of Jesus’ disciples, John, said we love God by keeping his commands (1 John 5:3,4a),  and his commands are to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another (1 John 3:23).

Love is an action, sometimes accompanied by warm and fuzzy emotions. Love is a choice we make each day, that can overpower thoughts to the contrary. Love is not apathy.  Love is what God wants. Love is who he is.

Love as you love yourself

Naturally, we love ourselves with or without comfortable emotions and thoughts. If rocks are flying at our heads, we duck. In a storm we seek shelter. We look for food and water each day.  These are acts of love we perform for our well-being.

Disheartened, we want encouragement. Weak, we want help. Our hope is for everyone to be patient with our imperfections! These kindnesses are but a few we wish to receive because we love ourselves and want out needs met. Each of these are described as acts of love in 1 Thessalonians 5:14b.

Whether trying to support a loved one in emotional distress, with mental illness, or struggling for freedom from abuse or addiction, we are most effective when we love God with our whole being. Loving God leads to extending to those who are hurting the kind of love for which we long.

Love as you love God

Jesus spoke to his disciples about judgment day.  Jesus is The King.

 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”  (Matthew 25:34-40)

So you see, obeying God’s greatest commandments to love others with the natural protection, nourishment, emotional support, and patience we want, IS part of loving God.

Today’s Helpful Word  

1 John 4:8 

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

Running Interference. Is Anyone Else Your Business?

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness  (c)2012 Nancy Virden

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About five years ago, a very generous friend of my son’s gave him a sound system for his car.  When the woman next door observed a familiar young man looking in the vehicles where my son’s car was parked, she decided not to say anything. Soon, the driver’s window was smashed, and the new sound system, gone. Our neighbor used the all-too-common excuses: it is none of my business; I don’t need the trouble; and I don’t want to get involved. 

Many heroic stories flowed out of Boston’s tragedy during the Boston Marathon this week. The police officer who brought milk to a family under lockdown, and two men who grabbed a chair and ran, carrying a bystander who had lost both his legs, come to mind. Why were these people willing to risk their safety for strangers?

Thirty years ago, I and a friend attended our hometown July fourth fireworks show. As can be expected, leaving the park was much slower than entering it. As traffic crawled toward the  exit, ahead the line was splitting into two rows.  Eventually we saw a single car had stopped, forcing everyone to go around.

Ten minutes passed from reaching the point of seeing the car to pulling up alongside it, a distance of about forty feet.  A woman was sitting inside, unmoving, her head leaning back against the headrest, eyes closed. 

I said, “I wonder if she is ok? Maybe she is hurt?”

“She’s fine,” came the response.  

“I think we should check,” I said. 

“No, mind your own business.”

There was a decision to be made. Hundreds of cars were passing this woman, everyone had plenty of time to find out if she was fine. I questioned my judgement; maybe I was supposed to stay out of it?  Maybe there was some unspoken rule everyone but me knew?  My friend thought I should stay put, and as a teenager I cared what friends thought. 

Then it occurred to me. If we passed blindly by, the next day I would be scouring the news to see if an emergency had been reported at the park. If she was ill and rescue was slow, God forbid too slow, then I would always wonder what I could have done, and carry guilt.

At that point the decision was simple. I could not ignore the scene before my eyes. Foolishness or not, it was me I would have to face in the mirror in the morning.

Jumping out of our stationary car, I knocked on her window. She jumped, and smiled. “Are you OK?” I asked.

“Yes, just resting! Thanks for checking, I’m OK.”

Embarrassment came into play. Not only had I made a fool of myself in front of my friend, but also in plain view of who-knows how many people. Self-conscious, something deeper inside felt satisfied and at peace. All these years later, I remember that scene with a clear conscience. There are no regrets.

However, I looked at my friend differently and lost some respect for that person who I thought had been cowardly and apathetic. Since then there have been times I did not choose to act, and feel ashamed of myself as well.  

Running interference protects your own heart. You have to live with you. How my neighbor feels behind her wall of disinterest, is unknown.  I am certain the heroes in Boston can look themselves in the mirror today and know they did their best.

Compassionate love is self-sacrifice sometimes, nonetheless it allows for freedom from guilt and preserves self-respect. 

Courage answers the call to “love your neighbor.”*

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NOTE: I am not a trained or licensed mental health professional. I am not a doctor. I speak only from my experiences with and observations of mental illness.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

*Mark 12:31.