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No one likes getting hurt. And it’s only natural to avoid these situations when possible. But it’s generally best to learn how to set wise boundaries rather than simply running away. True boundaries give us freedom and peace, while mere avoidance fills us with anxiety and keeps us on the run.

Of course, there’s a place to limit the access of those who are demeaning, hurtful, or otherwise toxic in our life. We don’t have to allow our hearts to be wounded time and again by their poor choices or sin. But, all too often, what we claim is setting a boundary is in reality just running away.

For instance, we might simply stop talking to family or friends we had a disagreement with, leave our job, church, or kid’s school when a decision is made we didn’t like, or stop associating with anyone who differs from our political worldview. Whatever it looks like, legitimate issues are present and we want to save ourselves from future hurt and disappointment. But issues are not resolved by running away from them.

On the other hand, true boundaries allow us to address issues, protect our heart, and stay in meaningful contact with others whenever possible. A boundary communicates what’s okay and not okay with us, and how we will respond if this line is violated.  

But, to be sure, the spirit of a boundary is not merely to cut people off; it’s to help make informed decisions in how we interact and love each other. The goal is to maintain contact while cleaning up any issues that cause harm. And this is not possible when we avoid addressing them altogether. We’re faking the peace in these moments rather than being true peacemakers.

In the end, be firm in the boundaries you set to protect your heart. But don’t confuse running away from issues as setting boundaries. A true boundary brings freedom and peace instead of the need to always run.


Dr. Corey Carlisle

Licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist - providing Christian counseling and soul care to individuals and couples, with a special emphasis on developing the masculine soul. Suwanee, GA 30024

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