He emphatically stated the importance of quickly removing the wet clothes from the field. Furthermore, he insisted that others could not use their property for drying clothes or any other reason. After washing their clothes, the missionary’s neighbors had laid them out on the mission station’s field to dry. The missionary’s response was the exact opposite of what I expected.
I had seen firsthand how these missionaries had built bridges to reach out and help people. For example, they offered free English classes, had outreach programs to a local orphanage, and simply cultivated friendships, all to share God’s love and the gospel. So why the fuss over someone laying out a few wet clothes to dry?
What I learned is that in this area, maintaining boundaries is crucial. If you allow someone to use your land for any purpose, that land becomes the property of the one using it after a certain amount of time. In other words, the missionaries had to carefully maintain their boundaries so they would continue to have a place there. If they did not hold the lines of their property, eventually it would no longer be theirs.
What a lesson for all of us! Proper boundaries help us thrive and enable us to continue to reach out to others. This may simply mean carving out some time for yourself. I’ve been doing this with exercise, as I aim to get more physically fit. I find that it definitely takes practice, but it does get easier and is well worth it. Hopefully the exercise will get easier, too! If you’d like to explore this subject further, a great resource is a book appropriately called Boundaries, by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. What boundaries do you need to set?
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverb 4:23
Setting boundaries can help you build bridges.