A few months ago, a family member challenged one of my parenting choices. As you know, I’m Torah observant, and I teach the same thing to my children in any way I can, without forcing them of course.

Without saying who the family member is, let’s just say I have this problem with them frequently. Constantly, actually. But in this specific instance, we were out to breakfast, and I told my daughter that she would not be ordering any pork sausage, bacon or byproducts during the meal.

This family member who always challenges my parenting, cut in by saying, “Well why not? [Your daughter] always gets pork when she’s with me.”

Sis… the way I had to take a moment and guard my lips before speaking. Because the way I really wanted to go off. It’s well known in my family that I don’t eat pork and forbid it to my children, and yet, here this A-HOLE is telling me to my face, “I give it to your children anyway.”

So, after inhaling a deep breath, I just asked that person, “Do you know how filthy pork is? If you did, you wouldn’t be putting it in your body or in the bodies of the people you love. It’s not fit for human consumption.”

And instead of me looking like some religious prude at the table, everyone could suddenly see how ignorant and indigant this family member was as they struggled to rebuttal. And all they could say in return was “Well it’s not affecting her now, so she can worry about that when the problem comes.”

LOL. And you know what I said? I said, “Wow.” Then I ended the conversation with her, then turned to my daughter and said, “So would you like pancakes?”

At the end of the meal, this family member who challenged me ended up paying the bill for everyone. But I have a feeling that if I turned the whole thing into an ordeal, then she probably wouldn’t have offered to pay for my meal. This is the power of turning the other cheek, staying classy, and having grace.

I’m not someone who tends to get hung up over my boundaries being crossed, because when I consier the bigger picture, I prefer to have grace. But there are certain things that I just find myself struggling to overlook, and I can’t lie, it makes me frustrated. Such as having my parenting challenged in a non-productive way; or when people refuse to acknowledge my input or contributions in a conversation and it’s obvious they’re doing it to exclude me or be malicious.

However, I’ve learned a few key things over the years that help me to keep my head held high, walk with grace, and move forward with dignity, and I’m happy to share them with you.

Let’s talk about

  1. What are boundaries?
  2. Why people don’t respect yours
  3. How to respond
  4. Why grace is non-negotiable

What Are Boundaries?

Boundaries are lines that represent what makes us feel comfortable, respected, considered, heard and important to those around us. Notice I didn’t say it’s a wall. Walls can’t be overcome, but lines can be crossed.

A common boundary many people have is confidence, or discretion. For example, if I tell my personal business to you, then you would be my confidant, and I expect you to uphold confidence, or be discreet i.e. not tell my personal business to others because if I wanted others to know then I would tell them.

A complete wall would be saying “I won’t ever be honest or talk about my true struggles with anyone whatsoever!”

So as you can see, boundaries are simply the conditions we place on others who choose to engage with us.

Question, what are some of your boundaries? Which boundaries of yours do you find people often cross?

For me, it’s my parenting decisions.

Why People Don’t Respect Your Boundaries

There can be many reasons why people don’t respect your boundaries. I’ve found that it depends on the boundary type.

Infringing, and non-infringing boundaries (totally made up by me, but follow me here).

An Infringing bondary is a boundary that you have, that requires greater effort from other people to abide by.

Some examples include, requiring people to remove their shoes when entering your home, addressing you by pronouns that don’t match your actual sex/gender, or requesting people not mention a certain person or topic around you because you find it triggering.

Infringing boundaries aren’t bad. They just require a little more patience on our behalf, since we are expecting so much adjustment from others.

A Non-infringing boundary is a boundary that you have, that requires more effort from you than those around you.

These boundaries are likely unspoken rules, things that you consider bare minimum, and expectations that you thought were just common courtesy.

Some examples may include, not wanting to be around a place where smoking indoors is allowed, having a religious or preferrential diet, or not wanting to be spoken over in a conversation. These are often boundaries that you respect for other people, even without their asking.

When Infringing boundaries are crossed, it can mean that people just don’t see you as worthy of that kind of regard. But when non-infringing boundaries are crossed, it can mean that someone just lacks respect for others in general, and it’s best not to take it personally.

For instance, if someone refuses to remove their shoes when coming inside your home even though you’ve asked them over and over, it can certainly mean they don’t see you as worth the extra five seconds it may take to remove their shoes, or they don’t what the big deal is. The problem with “not seeing the big deal” is that ignorance does not excuse others from owing us basic respect, and it’s doesn’t make it okay.

Or, let’s say someone drinks your juice from the fridge. When you see them enjoying a glass and you ask them about it, they may become defensive or even irate, because after all it’s just juice. But in your heart, it’s not just juice. It’s “MY” juice, and if someone wants some, they should at least ask and give you the opportunity to share. This is likely not something done to you out of spite, and this person probably does this to others in varying ways. Their lack of understanding may be due to your failure to communicate (only applies if it’s a first time offense, or if you are continually being passive).

So, people either disrespect your boundaries because they don’t respect you, or because they are just not a considerate person in general. It’s important to be able to tell the difference so that we understand how to move forward.

Question: which boundary do you find often being ignored? Do you think this person does it to spite you, or is it purely a reflection of their character and they tend to treat everyone in the same way?

How To Respond

If someone is crossing your boundaries to spite you or be malicious, I say:

  1. Ask them why they do it. This is a benign way to confront them, without being aggressive. And, they might end up surprising you with their answer. Offer the benefit of the doubt first, and expect their answer to be true and genuine. There could just be a simple miscommunication.
  2. Explain why it makes you uncomfortable. Be precise with your feelings or principles. “When you X, it makes me feel like I’m not important.” Or, “When you do X, even after I’ve asked you not to, it’s a clear demonstration to me that you don’t appreciate my patience, service, or kindness. It makes me feel like I have to start being rash, stingy or unkind in order to get the basic respect I’m asking for.”
  3. If it continues to happen, have grace in the moment by turning the other cheek, and then work on minimizing opportunities for your boundary to be crossed by this person.

I think this conversation is tricky, because we want to be Christlike, we want to extend mercy, and we want to keep extending love to people the way YAHUAH loves us.

But at the same time, we can get frustrated, overwhelmed, or even become bitter towards that person or even at ourselves for having the boundary (which can lead to becoming a total pushover).

That’s why we must pray, for our relationships, for our hearts, and for wisdom to see what cannot be seen with human eyes. When you step outside the frame, you can see the bigger picture. That’s when things make more sense, and when things make sense to us, we are less likely to make decisions based on emotion.

This applies the same to instances in which people are crossing your boundaries simply because they are immature (often with children, the elderly, or people who are mentally ill or are neurodivergent). In these cases, I say:

  1. Be clear, be direct, and be straightforward. This is the only style of communication that works with someone who does not understand basic respect, though they try. “I prefer it if you didn’t do X.” Or, “I find that to be innapropriate, and I would appreciate it if you didn’t say/do that.” Communication is key.
  2. Ask them why they do it. This is a benign way to confront them, without being aggressive. And, they might end up surprising you with their answer. Offer the benefit of the doubt first, and expect their answer to be true and genuine. You might find that their answer truly is a reflection of their upbringing, philosophy or morale, and not something personally against you. This is mainly the case with kids and rebellious teens.
  3. If it continues to happen, have grace in the moment by turning the other cheek, and then work on minimizing opportunities for your boundary to be crossed by this person.

Why Grace is Non-Negotiable (for me)

First, grace is one of my non-negotiables, because I know I cross other people’s boundaries. Mostly in a benign, non-malicious way, on accident. But if I’m being honest, sometimes I struggle to see eye to eye with people and then I stop caring about whether they feel considered, especially if I don’t think they offer me the same courtesy. I offer grace because I want and need grace, too. And I would be a total hypocrite if I demanded grace from other people when I upset them but then I can’t offer the same thing when they upset me.

The second reason why grace is non-negotiable for me, is because you never know how being a prude or being too rigid with others can block your blessings. We see this in the Words of Solomon, from Proverbs, to Ecclesiastese, and even in Sirach (Ecclesiasticus). We are encouraged to practice proper etiquette, be righteous towards others, speak with wisdom, and turn away from evil. But we are also encouraged to move in silence, to ponder our decisions before we move forward, or give The Most High the chance to direct our paths.

“Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. 26 But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. 27 So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.””

Matthew 13:24-30

While we are so focused on getting the tares out of our field, we could be ripping up wheat (stuff we actually want) in the process.

Don’t be so busy trying to pull up weeds that you accidentally pull up your plants. It’s okay to let some things be, and when the harvest time comes around, everything will fall into place.

And finally, grace is something I try to follow, because even a fool is considered wise when he keeps silent. Proverbs 17:28

And just like in my example earlier, if I had made a huge ordeal out of having my boundary crossed, I likely would not have gotten a free meal that day. It’s better to pull people aside and have a private conversation about it, if it’s that serious at all. I keep this person in question at an arm’s distance now, and they have minimal opportunity to hurt me in the same way. And now when we do come together, it’s a peaceful time.

Who do you need to have grace with?

What are your thoughts?

Raabasha Alohalani

I’m a little Israelite woman with a little faith in a big Master. Through cultivating a relationship with The Most High Redeemer of Israel, I’ve overcome suicidal tendencies, body dysmorphia, porn addiction, depression, and the darkness of envy! As a wife and a mommy, it is my earnest desire to share love and open a space for Hebrew, Israelite, and believing women alike who want to help build this City on A Hill. Let's discover His New Mercies each day, and take baby steps towards Shemayim!????