Several years ago I read a statement that helped me understand the flipsides of love. “We don’t have to be willing to lose everything for love. … Sticking to reasonable, healthy limits is a prerequisite to love and relationships that work. We can learn to make appropriate choices concerning what we’re willing to give in our relationships—of ourselves, time, talents and money,” writes Melody Beattie in her book Beyond Codependency.
Is love always giving and fulfilling another’s need? I wanted to know, so I looked at Jesus. What did He do?
“These people have listened to me for a long time now,” said Jesus to his disciples. “Many traveled far. I feel for them. They may faint from hunger on the way home. Let’s give them something to eat.”
Photo: Galilee where Jesus may have fed the crowds!
So Jesus fed 4000 men and their families. They ate till they were satisfied. Then Jesus sent them away—and he left with his disciples. (Check out Mark 8:1-10.)Perhaps some begged him to stay and continue performing miracles. But Jesus left. His loving, caring miracle did not preclude the firm action of setting time and involvement limits.
By observing Jesus’ example I learn that I can love and still set limits. It’s healthy, balanced and such a relief! Although I realize I’ll never do “love” perfectly 24/7, I want to learn to give and take with respect for myself as well as others. I continue to ask God to show me both sides of authentic love.
What have you learned about the give- and-take boundaries of LOVE? I’d like to hear from you.