Please stop hurting people. (A boundary-maintenance hope-kit)

So, my sister and I caught our kids playing poo-golf on the back lawn.

Poo-golf is when your moms are drinking coffee in the kitchen and you find a spade and you see who can perform the most impressive dog-poo-flick. The winner is the one who flicks the dog poo over the wall

We freaked out a little. We explained that flicking poo into a neighbour’s garden is like farting in a lift. Wrong on so many levels.

Whether it’s poo or Frisbees or Nerf Gun bullets – or insults, entitlement, aggression or unfair expectations – we all sometimes fling things over our neighbours’ actual or metaphorical walls. And whether or not we mean to cause offense, it’s offensive. And we should own our stuff.

The end of the year is a good time to clean out your clouds and your cupboards. Cook everything in the freezer and start again. Delete the apps you never use. It’s also a good time to make sure that your boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places. And that you haven’t inappropriately crossed over anyone else’s.

So let’s walk next door – ring the bell – and retrieve whatever we’ve flicked or flung. Let’s trust that the courage and humility it’ll cost us to make things right – with the awkward or the aggressive, with our co-workers or kids – will unlock garden gates of beautiful connection.

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I’m thinking, these four sentences from Matthew 12 could protect us, and allow year-end peace and fellowship to flourish.

‘He (that’s Jesus) will not fight or shout or raise His voice in public.’ (Matthew 12:19)

When things get ugly, suck in all the air you can until it cools your hot-quick-clever (possibly unwise) comeback. Have some responses lined up in your brain and give yourself a millisecond to pick the right one. Like –

‘Thanks for sharing your perspective. I’m going to take a day or two to process things. Then let’s chat.’

Solomon would tell us –

‘Respond gently when you are confronted and you’ll defuse the rage of another. Responding with sharp, cutting words will only make it worse. Don’t you know that being angry can ruin the testimony of even the wisest of men?’ (Proverbs 15:1, Passion Translation)

‘He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle.’ (Matthew 12:20)

Some people are insensitive. Some people are oversensitive. It’s not ok to crush them. Some people are weak and you can’t rely on them. It’s not ok to crush them. Some people make stupid decisions and let you down. It’s not ok to crush them.

Ask Jesus to loan you truckloads of His tenderness and wisdom, so you’ll know how to care for people when really, you’d quite like to crush them.

‘He will cause justice to be victorious.’ (Matthew 12:20)

Let’s make like Jesus and be a voice for the voiceless, any way we can. Let’s not allow bullies or baddies to get a leg-up over anyone’s garden wall if it’s in our power to call the cops.

‘And His name will be the hope of all the world.’ (Matthew 12:21)

Jesus is our hope.

But we’re not more entitled to that hope than the people who chuck junk over our walls or crash right into them.

Unthinkable injuries, invasions, assaults and attacks were levelled at Jesus. It killed Him. But He rose, and came back swinging with unstoppable grace. He didn’t block the haters. He wished them well, causing all things to work for their good.

Our hope – and the only hope for hurt people hurting people – is built on nothing less than that staggering cosmic reality.

. . .

Have a fantastic weekend!

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