The election season is underway. If you live in the States, you’ve seen the ads, the debates, all analyzed by political pundits of every persuasion. Perhaps like me, you’ve seen heated arguments taking place on Facebook and wonder how people think it is permissible to share their perspectives in such an offensive and degrading way?
These seasons seems to bring out the worst in us as human beings.
Over the months as I have waded through so much “spin” and political “talking points,” there is one focus that stands out, perhaps because of the psychotherapist in me. I am trained to view everything through the lens of emotional and spiritual health.
Though I may or may not agree with their political viewpoints, I can tolerate many different perspectives. Yet when I began to hear politicians and news media infer that the difference between the two political parties is “love” vs. “hate,” that anyone who believes in the rule of law is a racist or a hater, uncompassionate and cruel, that begins to raise my dander a bit.
The argument seems to be, if you want to be compassionate or show love to someone, you are allowed no boundaries. Likewise the logic follows that if you have any boundaries, you are mean-spirited and hate-filled. Nothing could be further from the truth, not just from a religious perspective, but from a psychological and emotional perspective as well.
A few months ago I wrote an article about the dangers of enabling others and how we can maximize peace in all of our relationships. You can read the article here.
One of the most fundamental building blocks in relationships is boundaries.
Our world was designed with boundaries. Every cell in your body has a cell wall that differentiates and protects the cell, allowing that cell to serve its role as part of the whole. Every organ in your body has a physical boundary that allows them to perform their vital function working together to keep the body working properly. If our bodies had no physical or cellular boundaries, they would be a chaotic mess that would not conducive for maintaining life.
Boundaries don’t equate with hate.
Boundaries are not bad. They are good. Boundaries help define where we end and others begin. They help identify what is our responsibility and what is another’s responsibility. They give clarity, purpose, and wisdom.
I even have a chapter in by new book, Peace For A Lifetime, devoted to boundaries. You can learn more about my book here.
I want to challenge you that the very essence of emotional health or “differentiation” as we call it, is the ability to hold onto ourselves, our viewpoints, our identity, our beliefs and values, while being close to those who may or may not be just like us.
Boundaries free me from forcing another to abandon themselves to me; they also free me from being forced to abandon myself to them in a relationship.
Tom Whitehead, a therapist and researcher offered, “A well-functioning boundary system leads to a healthy, fulfilling life. But dysfunctional boundaries leave us vulnerable and disorganized, incapable of coping with life’s simple problems.”
Families have boundaries, companies have boundaries, nations should and do have boundaries. Our nation’s boundaries are called laws. Laws are a necessary part of every civilization and prevent the country from descending into chaos and anarchy. Laws are written and enforced to protect its citizens and ensure safety within the country’s borders.
And yes, Jesus had boundaries. He knew when it was purposeful to minister and when it was not. He knew when He needed to withdraw to spend time alone with the Father. He was unafraid to call out religious leaders or prostitutes about their sin. Jesus was not a hater. He spoke the truth in love. He didn’t bend the truth for love.
Jesus was not a hater. He spoke the truth in love. He didn’t bend the truth for love.Click To Tweet
Love without boundaries is chaos. Boundaries without love is abuse.
Love without boundaries is chaos. Boundaries without love is abuse.Click To Tweet
Where Two Roads Meet
It is critical to understand that it is possible and I would say, necessary, for us as individuals and as a nation learn to do both —to hold our boundaries with compassion and love. This is the place where two roads meet. This is the perfect example of Jesus. This is not hate-filled, racist, or anything other than Emotional Abundance. In fact, the better-equipped we are at drawing healthy boundaries, the greater our capacity to show love and compassion to others.
Are you able to discipline your children with both compassion and consequences?
Are you able to love family members, even though you disagree with them?
Is it difficult for you to show respect and kindness while drawing boundaries in order to protect or keep your family safe?
Do you find it hard to listen to another person’s perspective without becoming enraged and losing yourself in the argument?
Do you shy away from speaking your perspective for the sake of keeping the peace?
Find one person this week with whom you can listen, engage, and respect even though they may have differing opinions, thoughts, feelings, or beliefs. Begin to recognize moments where you begin to escalate. Why are you escalating? Would it be possible to calm yourself and keep yourself safe right in that moment?
I believe strongly that healing for our country will come only when we stop talking AT one another, berating and demonizing one another, and begin sitting WITH one another. This allows us to nurture a greater amount of respect for those with whom we disagree.
Healing will come only when we stop talking AT one another and begin sitting WITH one another. Click To Tweet
It really comes down to us.
Will you make your goal this political season to refrain from name-calling, belittling, and demonizing others and instead try to learn a little about their story and why they believe the way they do?
Agree to disagree in love. Hold your beliefs and values with compassion for others.
In the end, our nation will be the one who wins. Our neighborhoods will win. In the end, maybe it’s all of us who will win. Will you join me?
If you haven’t joined our community on Facebook, I would LOVE to have you be a part of our little online family!
I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, author, coffee lover, and wife. My online community lisamurrayonline.com provides a compassionate place in the midst of the stresses and struggles of life. At heart, I am just a Southern girl who loves beautiful things, whether it is the beauty of words found in a deeply moving story, the beauty of a meal cooked with love, the beauty of a cup of coffee with a friend, or the beauty seen in far away landscapes and cultures. I have fallen passionately in love with the journey and believe it is among the most beautiful gifts to embrace and celebrate. While I grew up in the Florida sunshine, I live with my husband just outside Nashville in Franklin, TN.
About Peace for a Lifetime
In my new book, Peace for a Lifetime, I share the keys to cultivating a life that’s deeply rooted, overflowing, and abundant, the fruit of which is peace. Through personal and professional experience as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I’ve discovered how to take the broken pieces of life and find indestructible peace with herself, God and with others. Through my story and other’s stories you’ll realize that you can experience the life for which you long. You can experience abundance beyond anything you can imagine. You can experience peace, not just for today, not just for tomorrow. You can experience peace —for a lifetime!
Peace for a Lifetime is available on Amazon.com.
Book Trailer: https://vimeo.com/155392891
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