Love and compassion are at the heart of what we follow as the Christian life. However, God invites us to balance caring with prayerful limit-setting for ourselves, and those for whom we care. God’s love for us is infinite, but even there, boundaries are set. In attempting to follow Jesus, we hear the call to support those oppressed in body and spirit with unconditional love. However, “saving” everyone by forgiving endless, hurtful misdeeds is not our calling – and in fact, is not saving at all. It is not the answer to the question, “What would Jesus do?” Unbounded, indiscriminate help is not the same as the unbounded love called for by the gospel.
We must insure that we care for ourselves, too. This is not Selfish (with a capital “S”), it is self-ish, self-aware, knowing the boundaries that safeguard and honor the God residing within each of us, and promote the greatest growth and strength in others. Is this hard to hear? I invite you to pray about it. God loves you and needs you whole. Bring to others all that you can reasonably and faithfully bring – your prayers, your presence, your support – with integrity. Those are powerful, healing, caring gifts. Notice in the 23rd psalm, we read that the shepherd’s rod “comforts me” or “makes me feel safe.” This is not just protection from outer adversity. It is a rod that guides on a path, a reminder, a healthy, loving boundary.