Genesis 30:25-26 – As soon as Rachel had borne Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send me away, that I may go to my own home and country. Give me my wives and my children for whom I have served you, that I may go, for you know the service that I have given you.”
When we think of Jesus, we often think of Him as a helper and a healer, but did you know there were at least 41 times in the Gospels, including over two dozen unique occasions where He either walked away from people or let them walk away? We may have been incorrectly taught that it’s unloving to walk away from or put up boundaries with others but sometimes, it’s necessary and healthy.
Sometimes, when another person is so toxic, hurtful, and evil, they can keep you from becoming who God is calling you to be and what God is calling you to do. With family, this can be the hardest and, oftentimes, we allow them far too many chances as they use control tactics like guilt, manipulation, threats, drama, or a domineering nature. The thing to remember is that, if someone is trying to control you, it’s likely not inspired by God. Satan controls; God does not control but instead gives us the Holy Spirit for help with self-control.
Jesus has two different types of conversations related to boundaries that we can learn from: 1) Clarifying conversations and 2) Closure conversations. With Peter, Jesus needed to have a clarifying conversation (John 21:15-17) about Peter’s love for Him. However, with Judas, Jesus needed to have a closure conversation (John 13:27), which is the talk to never talk again. These are both important conversational skills to learn, either to move forward in relationships with potentially foolish people or to close relationships that are not healthy with evil people.
If you think you may be needing to draw boundaries with someone in your life, I would encourage you to start with forgiveness. An encouragement would be to write a processing letter, which allows you to get all of your thoughts, feelings, hurts, and insecurities onto a page. Generally, this is not going to be something you share with the person or with anyone else, but it helps you start to unburden.
I would also definitely encourage you to seek wise counsel, even from a professional counselor if that’s helpful. Be patient and hear from God through this process. God wants unity and hates division, but He also wants emotional, relational, and spiritual health for His children in this broken, fallen world.
For a couple of helpful resources on this topic, I would recommend Henry Cloud and John Townsend’s Boundaries or Gary Thomas’ When to Walk Away: Finding Freedom from Toxic People.
Is there anyone in your life that you need to have a clarifying or closure conversation with?
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