Setting boundaries is always necessary, but it isn’t always easy. It’s part of our defining outselves as ‘me’ as when as infants we slowly distinguish ourselves from our mother, father and siblings. As we grow older we do it again as we take on our own identity and personality within our families and peer groups. It’s natural. It’s part of growing up. But as I’ve already said it isn’t always easy.
So much is written about marriage and partnership. That is a time when new boundaries are set. When two become one – sort of – but it’s not a case of one person being absorbed and consumed by the other – or it shouldn’t be – but rather of two individuals choosing to seek – together- the best way forward for them as a couple. Communication and boundary setting remain important.
Is it the same with friends – good friends? Certainly there is the sharing of life and experiences, and that also invokes the need to set healthy boundaries. “What is mine is yours” is a good way to share life, but it’s not akin to “I am you, you are me!” We are individuals, with unique personalities, hopes and dreams. We are called to nurture one another, to help create environments that foster growth and personal transformation, but we are not called to be become one another, rather to serve one another.
Perhaps one of the most important life-giving ways we do this is by holding a mirror for the other, allowing the other to discover who they really are.