Sunday’s Scripture ~ Luke 6:43-45
This past week I had the privilege to attend a conference on clergy finances. I know – exhilarating topic – but it turned into a conference on clergy health as a whole – personal health, financial health, and spiritual health. Some of the information was new, some of the information was an expansion on knowledge garnered at other times, and some of the information was reiterations of previous lessons.
I admit – in one of the reiterations of previous lessons sessions I initially checked out. What was the subject of that session? Boundaries. I’ve been hearing about boundaries it seems like forever. Boundaries are not walls between myself and others. Boundaries are the means by which I am responsible for myself and accountable to others with whom I am in relationship. Boundaries keep me safe; they state was is acceptable behavior and what is not. Boundaries enable me to stay true and in awareness of my feelings, choices, limits, gifts, loves, and values. I am by no means perfect with boundaries, but as a Wesleyan I believe that I am going onto perfection. I am learning, I am growing, I am holding myself accountable, and I am being held accountable.
As I sat in the session on boundaries I felt the convicting presence of the Holy Spirit settle on my heart as the speaker shared from hers. The lessons that convicted me are these:
1. Setting boundaries and then letting them slip to the back of my mind or out of my mind completely is not acceptable. My boundaries must stay current and fresh in my mind. I must be aware of them at all times so that if my behavior walks too closely to the line or crosses the line I will know in that moment rather than in hindsight.
2. The specific aim of the session was to explore boundaries as it relates to technology – emails, text messages, tweets, status updates, picture uploads, pins, blogs and whatever else is out there as far as social media. The convicting question was this – is the self that you are portraying in and through these media your true self?
And as that relates to our Scripture passage this week – is the self you are portraying in and through these media who you want to be known as? Is this self how you want to be known? I believe those are two different but correlative questions.
And again I say…wow.
There is so much that is lost in translation when we connect through technology – context, tone, inflection, sarcasm, emotion, and more. And then there is also so much that can be gained – boldness, passive aggression, outright anger, and more.
There are some things we say via technology that we would never say in person…there are somethings I have said via these electronic means that I would never say in person. I am not perfect, but I am going onto perfection.
When I say these things – is that how I want to be known? Do I want what I say through these forums to conflict with how I am known in person? Or do I want it to be a seamless transition from one to the other?
I don’t want to be a good tree in the flesh that produces rancid fruit experienced in electronic life.
The facilitator joked, “This is my boundary: if whatever I am about to post I would not say in person to my mother or to Jesus, then I will not post it.” The room laughed. I laughed. And then that Spirit of conviction became a Spirit of peace. Jesus knows all my thoughts – Jesus knows my heart on my brightest and on my gloomiest days. Jesus knows and Jesus redeems so that others will know and experience my heart, my true self, as Jesus does.
After this experience I don’t think I’ll be scoffing at reiterations of previous lessons anymore. God knew that I needed this lesson. It went straight to my heart. It led me to take a good long look in the mirror – some of it I liked and some of it God is continuing to work on, work in, and work out. God’s grace is in the boundaries. God’s redemption is in the boundaries.
I’ll be in the boundaries.
Prayer: “Come, all of you, come, bearers of burden, come forward, I will give you rest; don’t wait for long; all of you who are weary, come to me, the Christ Jesus The Lord of all, the Savior, King of humankind. Come, all of you, come trouble-minded, come forward, I will give you peace, the peaceful mind; all of you who are hungry, come to me, receive bread and the water of life, provided by Jesus your Lord.”* Amen.
*”Come, All of You,” The United Methodist Hymnal, 350.