In relationships, there is often a strong encouragement to just follow your heart. Let your love for other people be wild and free. Let love simply take you where it will. The idea that we would try to restrict our love seems like madness. The suggestion that we should protect our relationships with boundaries seems to go against every natural instinct.

Perhaps the best way to judge this is to compare our love to a rose bush. Rose bushes are always planted in a prominent position in a garden. No one ever hides a rose bush down the side of their house where no one can see its beauty.

The strange thing is that a rose bush is beautiful because it is treated badly.  The gardener has a vision of what it could be, and so they prune it and sometimes cut it right back so that only a few branches are visible. Yet this harsh treatment is precisely what makes the rose bush form into something graceful. Even when they are not in flower they stand above all the other plants in the garden as a symbol of beauty.

It is a very different thing with a wild rose bush. Wild rose bushes are free and never have to deal with the harsh treatment of being pruned. But as a result, they are ugly. A wild rose bush will have ten times as many thorns and half the number of flowers. They may be free, but they have no one to care for them, and so all of their energy is focussed on self-defense.

Human relationships are very much the same. We may want all of our relationships to be wild and free, spontaneous and instantly gratifying, but the result is that they ultimately become self-defensive and kind of ugly. But if we want them to become beautiful and graceful, we need to set healthy boundaries that will train them and prune them. We need to be prepared to set restrictions or limits which may reduce our pleasure but ultimately help the relationship reach full maturity. While this is always the harder option, we need to hold to the truth that love grows when there are healthy boundaries.