Boundaries of the Heart are Lines of Love and Respect

Boundaries of the Heart are Lines of Love and Respect

They had crossed a line with me. Boundaries walked over. A line of the heart had been crossed.

I felt so hurt and offended that they would be so disrespectful to me. It felt like there was no love or respect in their hearts for me by what they had done.

Have you ever been there and experienced someone who supposedly loved and respected you doing the complete opposite?

It’s like you have planted a tree in the back garden, watched it grow, and hoped for a beautiful crop. You tell the kids not to eat the fruit and that it is a unique fruit that can be watched and admired but never eaten.

You hope for the relationship that the children love and respect your heart’s desires, but you have given them a choice because what is love and respect if it is not chosen.

Yet deception and foolishness are perfect allies, and choices are made to eat that which was never meant to be tasted.

I am talking about the first boundary ever crossed — the line of love and respect for God.

God told them not to eat of a particular tree he had planted in the garden. ‘Out of love and respect for me, out of knowing that I have your very best interests at heart, please don’t eat from this tree. Genesis 3

Yet temptation won them over to a taste test where they inadvertently bought the whole store.

Love and respect

Love and respect.
Something we all, at a deep subconscious level, hunger after.


I believe that deep within us, there is a desire we probably have never drilled into. As a man, it is to be respected, and I believe for a woman, it is to be loved.

Larry Crabb writing in The Papa Prayer puts it this way.

A man’s fear is this: Am I adequate?

Do I have the weight to handle important tasks, impact a woman, a child, a friend, in a way that affirms my value?

The flip side of desire is terror – the coin has two sides. I want what I can’t stop wanting. Is what I want so desperately – eternal value, the weight to make an impact that lasts beyond the grave – mine to enjoy?

A man’s deepest terror is weightlessness, the absence of solid substance that others recognize and appreciate.

Women are not men. Men are not women.

The differences extend beyond physiology and anatomy, beyond hairstyle and clothing and pitch of voice, and the way each throws a ball or moves on a dance floor or tilts the head when puzzled. The core difference lies in desire.

Men long for weightiness, for the substance that impacts.

Women yearn for beauty, for an internal reality that makes an eternal impact by drawing others to cherish and honor and protect what they see, by awakening in others their desire for ultimate beauty. Nothing terrifies a woman more than to feel that there is nothing unique bout her being that another could esteem and treasure.

A woman’s fear is this: Am I beautiful, or am I merely useful? A sexual object? A resource that functions well to achieve another’s purpose? The flip side of desire is terror. Can I connect deeply with anyone? Is anyone safe? Will, anyone see my beauty, or is there nothing to see that others will honor or enjoy?

We’re not sure. We’re not sure if anybody will do for us what we need so badly but can’t do for ourselves. Men feel like weightless little boys, women like invisible little girls.

With fallen ingenuity, we handle our terror by shoving our deepest longings out of awareness and assuming control over lesser ones. With terror numbed, we live to protect ourselves. We find a relational style that keeps us feeling pretty good , and when something threatens to arouse our deep pain and terror, we retreat or attack.

We do whatever it takes to keep ourselves intact.

Larry Crabb PAPA Prayer

Then my mind wanders over to the Bible and the advice that Paul gives for husbands and wives.

Each of you, however, should love his wife as himself, and a wife should respect her husband. Ephesians 5:33

Men are to love their wives with a self-sacrificial agape love that encourages the beauty within his wife to shine.

Women are to respect their husbands with a form of reverence that encourages their Godly purpose.


I went to the doctor yesterday and was duly walked over to the scales where my weight was taken. ‘Not too bad,’ I thought. He didn’t say anything.

This is the physical weight that I am pressing down upon the pavement or the soil.

My greatest fear is that I am weightless. That nothing I do matters or has an impact. I believe that the question that haunts a man is, ‘Am I making a difference?’

In my closest relationships, my family, friendships, work, hobbies, is what I am doing, making a difference, and am I adequate and up to the challenge.

The reward is recognition and appreciation. It’s all about respect.


If a man’s fear is impotence, then perhaps a woman’s fear is invisibility?

That no one will see the beauty within her. No love will be shown to that tender beauty within her soul. No one will draw it out, encourage and nurture it.

So what do boundaries have to do with this?

In my last post, I introduced the idea that boundaries are lines of love and respect.

A boundary line of love is crossed when indifference or contempt is shown for the tender beauty within a woman’s soul.

A boundary line of respect is crossed when indifference or contempt is shown for the purposes of a man’s soul.

This relational line of love and respect, of course, transfers over into every relationship we have.

We demonstrate love and respect for ourselves and others through our actions.

Going to the doctor

I went to the doctor the other day

I show love and respect for my doctor by

  • putting the appointment time in my diary
  • getting to the appointment on time
  • being polite and friendly to the staff
  • being open and honest about my needs
  • answering his questions as best I can
  • taking the medication or advice offered
  • paying the bill

My doctor would show love and respect for me by

  •  keeping to the appointment time (a challenge for any doctor)
  • have a safe, clean working environment
  • doing ongoing training
  • listening to both verbal and non-verbal communications
  • keeping the right notes to refer back to
  • using accurate measuring equipment (I’m sure those scales were wrong)
  • charging only what is appropriate and not excessive

When we are indifferent or abusive to a person’s needs for love and respect, we cross a line, a boundary.

Questions to consider

  1. How can this idea of love and respect be seen in the many relationships we have?
  2. Think of a time when you were deeply hurt. Was a line of Love and Respect crossed?
  3. Do you love and respect yourself? Perhaps shame, guilt, self-loathing have their basis in a crossing of a line of love and respect. What do you think?

Barry Pearman

Get a weekly email full of help for your Mental Health and Spiritual formation

* indicates required


7 thoughts on “Boundaries of the Heart are Lines of Love and Respect”

Comments are closed.