Standring column: Draw boundaries to keep hope and joy alive

Suzette Martinez Standring
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Cherokee County News Advocate

Columns share an author’s personal perspective.

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Our deep national divide is a bitter soup. What has gotten me through it? Drawing boundaries. There is an imaginary circle I draw around myself, and I’m choosy about what steps over the line. Often, I act on this thought, “No, you don’t. Take your junk way over there where it belongs.”

But is this severe and “judgey?” Does it conflict with “what would Jesus do?” The question that is supposed to return one to the basics of love and caring for each other to glorify God. To these tenets, there are no alternative facts.

Long have I been at odds with the so-called religious who have put truth and morality on the back burner for political gain. To reach a desired result, those claiming the high moral ground exhort full demonization of the opposition. Turning a blind eye toward consequences gives Christianity a black eye through the lens of hypocrisy.

The last four years of deep division have shed insight on Jesus’s words in Matthew 10:34:

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.”

Hasn’t this happened? Family members are enemies. Friendships are severed.

When using the word “sword,” Jesus was not endorsing bloodshed or violence. Rather it was a metaphor for a strict dividing point between his teachings or following one’s own desires. Jesus is a healer and teacher. Be compassionate toward the less fortunate. Feed, clothe, nurture and make a decent life possible for all. Practice kindness, self-sacrifice, offer hospitality and refuge to strangers. Never be violent. Don’t set people’s lives on fire with lies and gossip.

Or be on the other side of his dividing line.

Who knew such basic good behavior could be a sword point that split us apart?

I spoke with a friend, originally from India. The pandemic brings great challenges, especially in relationships. The mental and emotional divides can be so toxic sometimes separation is needed. While future reunion may be possible, separation could calm the storm.

Ensuing solitude might bring peace. From him, I learned a Sanskrit word, “satsang” which means “good company.” The idea is to nurture the positive forces in your life, surround yourself with good.

Separation can be a form of self-protection. The message in Matthew 10:34 is to take a clear-eyed view of what causes division. I’m a big girl. I can discern fact from fiction to keep my inner balance. Don’t breathe life into relentless nonsense. The promise of peace and hope is delicious. I have to keep that taste in my mouth.

Therefore, don’t steep yourself in a bitter soup, and be tricked into believing it’s all you will ever swallow. Draw boundaries.

Email Suzette Martinez Standring at suzmar@comcast.net.