Scrolling through a list of articles published by Plough in my email, the title “Bandwidth and Boundaries” caught my eye. I have noted that a lot of Christian books are all about boundaries and I have been hesitant to read them. In reference to relationships, the word doesn’t seem very Christ-like.
But the term bandwidth made me curious. The author, Alexandra Macey Davis, wrote that a friend was noticeably absent when she was struggling with bereavement and grieving. When asked why she did not choose to offer any type of support, the friend stated in a text that she was “pressed for time and energy and needed to protect her bandwidth.”
With this example, and others, Davis surmised that therapy concepts developed for healing are being used in harmful ways.1
We can, of course, offer a few examples of why bandwidth and boundaries might be appropriate at times. Yes, I have been so overwhelmed by expectations I cried in secret… well the Lord knew about my tears for I was pouring my heart out to Him. And sometimes people want you to do things for them they can and should do for themselves.
But the examples in Scripture are more about embracing others than shoving people away or about being poured out than holding back.
Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” John 13:34
How did Jesus love during His ministry?
In the book of Luke we read, “Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to Him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them. (Luke 4:40)
When the crowds learned Jesus and His disciples were in Bethsaida “they followed Him, and He welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing.” (Luke 9:11) And when the day began to wear away, He did not follow the advice of his disciples and send the crowds to villages for food and lodging, instead He fed them.
With boundaries we make rules that can’t be broken. We don’t take phone calls after a certain hour of night or we just say “no” rather than make time to give someone a ride to a doctor’s appointment.
When does life stretch forward in endless hours? My husband is the pastor of a small rural church and there are always a multitude of ministries. Also, I write blogs, mini-blogs, articles, and essays. Currently, I am working on a book. My mother is in her 90s and I routinely make a four-hour drive to her house to help with her care. I am always behind on household projects because houses require a great deal of upkeep and so does the church building.
Frequently I am pressed for time and energy but I choose to stay connected and involved. Bandwidth is “the energy or mental capacity required to deal with a situation.”2 I may not have the capacity but I know who does… Jesus Christ.
“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” ESV
©2023 Susan Cort Johnson *All Rights Reserved
1-What is your opinion on bandwidth and boundaries? What Scripture has shaped this opinion? Looking forward to new insight!
1-Plough Publishing House, plough.com. Article “Bandwidth and Boundaries: Therapy-speak is Infecting our Relationships and Undermining our Values, by Alexandra Macey Davis.
2-Definition of bandwidth from Yahoo search engine, yahoo.com.