I recently used the word “boundary” in the family text chain to address the political hot topic taking place that crossed the guidelines of what we all previously agreed on, at least that is what I thought. In my husband’s family they are very polarized in their political views. You are either Republican or Democrat, no in between. I beg your pardon, but I am not a party voter; I am an issues voter. We all agreed to not discuss politics on this text chain as it always produces heated conversation and disrespectful words. On January 6, the day the protest turned to a deadly riot at the nation’s capital building, a few of the Democrats hollered with their disrespectful words at the Republicans on this family chat. It was sad to make it such a personal matter. With an attempt to stop the bickering, I simply wrote a text “I thought we agreed not to go here.” More disrespect proceeded. After a rapid-fire chain of more angry texts, I finally ended the heated words with “Family, the word is called ‘boundaries’ and you crossed them.” You could hear crickets after that, or least on this text chain. Who knows what words were said in their homes and on their other emotional outlets such as Facebook and Twitter? My brother said the same of the Peace & Justice committee at church. The Democrats and Republicans sparred during their recent virtual committee meeting to the point that the pastor had to stop it with, “Is this not what this group is against? Peace, brothers and sisters, peace!”
Boundaries abide in our lives in various forms. And they are here to stay. It is how God designed His people and His earth. Look at nature and the natural boundaries of a river. The riverbank keeps the river water flowing inside its natural boundary walls. During the spring thaw with the snow melts and rainstorms, flooding can occur. Man-made are the houses and buildings built in the flood zones. There is a sign standing in a farmer’s field going north on the Mississippi River road, Highway 79 that says “They call it a floodplain ‘cause it is plain to see it floods here! Remember the flood of ’93?” Still, more construction continues in the floodplains.
To some people, the word “boundary” conveys restrictions and rules that bind. While others make it their life’s mission to cross boundaries as a statement “you can’t tell me what to do!” Look at how many lawless criminals we have in our justice systems or need to be. The pervert who violates the boundaries by touching a child relative or neighbor inappropriately or the boss who stands over his female assistant gawking and intimidates her by invading her space with his words and leering. The taxpayer who cheats on their tax filing crossed a boundary. I believe in finding and taking advantage of loopholes but be honest, so we all benefit from the taxes you paid.
Another portion of people think “oh, I’ll do this just this one time, I won’t get caught”. But then it becomes a pattern and eventually a habit they are sucked into. One too many youths and adults have tried cocaine just once, only to crave more of it. Others dabble with an illicit relationship. “Once a cheat, always a cheat” is what society will say about the unfaithful spouse. Can you trust him again? Other folks do not mean to a cross a boundary but do so out of ignorance or immaturity. Ever hear of the saying “being at the wrong place at the wrong time” or “being with the wrong person at the wrong time”? Immaturity may result in a job termination, injury, death, court hearing, jail time, ruined reputation, divorce, or a damaged relationship. Unless you choose to learn from your mistake, a pattern of mistrust in oneself or in relationships may result.
For those who will say “rules are meant to be broken,” there is a degree of truth to that statement. For those who say this, I can say “yes”, sometimes. When a rule infringes on the rights of another based on a discrimination or prejudice, we need to evaluate and make the circumstance a fair game for all. When a boss micromanages or a workplace with too many rules stifling creativity or worse mistreats an employee or a segment of employees, the employee(s) can speak up for change. Granted we are not always heard, so then there is an opportunity to leave and move on to a better work environment. Same holds true in our personal relationships.
What does the word “boundary” mean? And where did the word originate from? The Oxford dictionary has two definitions.
- A line that marks the limits of an area; a dividing line.
- A limit of a subject or sphere of activity.
The origin of the word “boundary” is from the English from the early 1600’s. This word is a variant of the word “bounder” meaning an outlaw, dishonorable or unscrupulous man. Maybe more so of “limitary”, setting limits; subject to restrictions. Its usage in our language increased gradually over the years with a surge between 1960 to 2010. Maybe something to do with our women’s liberation movement, experimental drugs, free love, and civil rights era? We had to have a word to describe those braless days, LSD trips, long-haired hippies, religious cults, nudist colonies, and violent protests. Currently, the usage of “boundary” is on a downhill. I wonder what word in our language replaced “boundary” because boundaries are still needed in 2021?
For some folks, when the word “boundary” is used, it provides a sense of security and a knowing of what to expect. Consider the sacred scriptures of several religions: The Old and New Testaments for Christians, the Torah for Jews, the Catechism for Catholics, the Tripitaka for Buddhist, and the Koran for the Muslims. These are filled with wisdom and laws to abide by. For an example a proverb (23:10 & 11) in the Old Testament says, “Do not move an ancient boundary stone or encroach on the fields of the fatherless, for strong is their Redeemer who will take up their case against you.” Ancient boundaries protect our children. This is a positive aspect of a boundary. But some barriers need to come down.
The promise I hold onto from the New Testament is, “For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.” ~Ephesians 2:14.