Epiphanies & Boundaries
Updated: Jan 5, 2021
Solemnity of the Epiphany of Our Lord
Something that I have learned about myself is that I love meanings and definitions. On the feast of Epiphany each year, I like to talk about what the word actually means. Other than the definitions discussing this feast and tradition in the Church, the word epiphany means "a moment of sudden revelation or insight."
This Sunday, I had my own epiphany while listening to our deacon read the Gospel about the Epiphany of Our Lord. Scripture is different than any other literature because it is alive and active. Jesus wants to speak to your heart today and utilize your present challenges to bring you closer to Him. This week this familiar story didn’t sound the same to me. It seemed like my story. It felt like Jesus was sitting right next to me and directing each word of this Gospel to my life.
As I have learned more about my Aspergers diagnosis in the past year, I have become aware of how much I can be influenced by others. I can miss social cues and quickly gravitate towards what others think before understanding what I think. Being an external processor can present a challenge when I haven’t arrived at a thought or viewpoint I agree with and claim as mine. The revelation of this diagnosis has helped me to gain great insights (may I say “epiphanies”) even though the journey can be painful and humbling along the way.
The wise men also had a painful and humbling journey in their search for Jesus. According to quora.com, the distance between their homeland and Jerusalem was 500 miles and likely took their caravan 50-60 days to travel (if there were no unexpected pitstops along the way). For all those who travel, we can be assured that there will indeed be unexpected “pains” that are inevitable. As miles accumulate, we are humbled to learn we are not in control. We can get tired, lost, hungry, and impatient with our fellow travelers.
The magi were searching for the King but asked the wrong king for directions. How often can we overshare or ask the wrong people for advice? Who do we go to for wisdom? How much do we depend on others’ perspectives before embracing our own?
Herod was likely familiar with being put on a pedestal. In the eyes of the world, he was king. He dominated the people in his kingdom more than they may have realized. “When Herod became troubled, all of Jerusalem became troubled with him.” That’s some crazy level of influence.
There have been times in my life where my tendency to be codependent is clear. As a big sister of quadruplet siblings, I have always appreciated being connected, being wanted, and being a model for others. Though these are not unhealthy desires in themselves, it can lead to a lack of emotional boundaries with those who surround and inspire me.
As a marriage and family therapist, I help people to identify and communicate their emotions with those around them. Sometimes we don’t even recognize where these emotions are coming from until we step back and talk it out with someone we love and trust. When we follow someone on social media or hear something on the news, we can find ourselves getting more emotionally invested than we ought to be. Why were the people of Jerusalem troubled simply because Herod was troubled?
Often people slip and say, “he/she made me feel this way….” God created us to be free. He said, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). No one can take our peace away. When we begin to notice a loss of peace, that is an unhealthy boundary in our life that God wants to address. The people of Jerusalem did not speak or think for themselves. They were like a herd of sheep following a man who was not their Shepherd.
How diligent are we in searching for Christ in our hearts, minds, and lives? Do we spend time with God before being swept up by the world?
When we encounter Christ, we are changed forever and cannot live in the same way as before. Though the Wisemen agreed to the influence of the king at first, they were given the clarity and courage to take the road less traveled. They listened to the voice of God. They trusted their own intuition and the call of their hearts rather than the empty promises of the earthly king.
Will you let the King of Kings make you a new creation in this new year? Rather than being stuck in shame about poor boundaries in the past, how can you learn from them and begin in a new direction today? Where is the Christ Child leading you right here and right now?
As a counselor, it is truly a joy to journey with people as they have epiphanies about their faith, their life, their mind, their heart, and their relationships. The Wisemen were lifelong learners on this adventure called life. I pray your year ahead is full of epiphanies! After all, an epiphany can also be defined as "a manifestation of Christ." Seek God in all things. You’ll find Him! He wants to make Himself known in your life each and every day.
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If you are looking for a good resource to learn more about healthy boundaries, I highly recommend this book that is written from a Christ-centered perspective. The last chapter about God's boundaries blew my mind!!