The Banana Boundary

By Mac

A big contemporary buzzphrase is "boundary issues," and they can be almost anything one party decides to take offense over. A few years ago my soon-to-be-ex was really into the boundary issue thing - books, tapes - big boundary issue deal. I mean boundary issues that have only been rivaled by countries like South and North Korea.

Her basic stance was that I was violating her boundaries whenever, and wherever, I existing in time and space. We spent many a counseling session talking it through, and after six months she relented and agreed I was free to exist on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and half the day on alternating Sundays.

Later she decided she had been rash and too generous and proceeded to whip out the whole boundaries thing with full force. Before I knew it I was violating her boundaries by living in my own house with my own thoughts. So, soon I was on my way out.

But when you leave you have to take all your stuff, and I had a lot of stuff. One day I showed up to do some packing, but I had forgotten to eat anything. Stress and the heart-numbing reality of divorce can make you miss obvious stuff like that. So when I felt faint, I saw and ate a banana and continued.

Hours later, when I met my ex in the driveway. She was downright perky.

"The sewer thing is a no-brainer" I said. "So all we have to do is send them the letter and the appraisal on Monday and they will FedX it to FHA and we're done," I said sadly.

"Oh isn't it exciting!" she exclaimed, bounded away like a cheerleader in September.

Suddenly I really needed to leave.
But as I climbed into the Mustang, she came blasting out the side door like a fully-armed SWAT team.

"Did you eat one of our bananas!?" she screamed.

"Oh yes, I sometimes forget to eat in the mornings, so I just grabbed one, I hope that's okay?"

"No, THAT IS NOT OKAY! That is EXACTLY the sort of boundary issue I have been talking about when it comes to the house!"

"A banana is a boundary issue?" I asked.

"YES! That is exactly the sort of crap that I have been talking about. You cannot just come into MY HOUSE and eat one of my bananas!"

"A banana is a boundary issue?" I said flatly.

What could I say?

Being a gospel guy I can tell you what I wanted to say. I wanted to say "Haven't you ever heard of turning the other Chiquita?"

But I didn't. She'd call her lawyer over that one, and bananas would skyrocket to $3700 a pound..

"I did not know that. I'm sorry. I'll certainly try to not cross that boundary again. Gotta go."

As I sped down highway 80 I started laughing. I was not laughing at her. Of course a banana was an issue, everything was an issue, and every issue had to have a well-defined boundary, and every boundary had to be defended with utter vigilance or something like true and creative relationship, commitment and mutual love might occur!

No, I was laughing at the "turn the other Chiquita" line that had bounced into my head right at that moment.

Yeah..I'm a funny guy.

Now I am also a Christian and so is my ex. We are Protestants which means we are generally supposed to try and navigate somewhat by what we believe to be revelation...i.e. Scripture. Sure, like all people, we tend to be highly selective (thus the divorce) but both my ex and myself are fairly well-versed and can even use the term "hermeneutics" in a real sentence.

So what's up with "boundaries" in the New Testament?

Well I just do not see it. And if you do, write me please and explain it to me. I see Paul saying (from a jail cell where his boundaries where severally trod upon) to the Philippians that we should mimic Jesus and his relationship with God "not regarding equality as something to grasp at" and instead doing the whole "kenosis" (self-emptying) thing. I hear Jesus talking about walking the extra mile for a stranger, and giving up your coat to those who cross the outrageous boundary of asking for your shirt and pants. He also says "bless those who curse you and use you with contempt" and that we should love those who make themselves our enemies (the ultimate boundary crashers).

I do not see a best-selling book on banana boundaries coming out of the Bible.

Even more so, I see God and His Kingdom doing the ultimate boundary-crashing so we would not be trapped in our own unending insanity and lostness. God has the audacity to cross over the boundary of Creator and creature and become like us in all ways. "The Word became flesh and pitched His tent in our stuff."

That's a lot more deep and serious boundary issue than a banana. But the banana gets all the press and because of this so much of our true calling goes unanswered. And is raises real questions for us. How is it that so many of us have missed the "self-emptying" nature of God and our own calling to do likewise?

Why are we Christians often the most controlling people on the continent instead of the most free, unrepressed and gracious?

Doesn't my being a follower of Jesus mean giving up power and control in favor of faith, hope and love?

Well things are much better now with the ex and the banana boundary is probably not something she would even remember. In fact, the other day I went produce shopping with the kids and it was not until later, after I dropped them off, that I started to laugh at almost the exact spot on the road that I had previously. The Farmer's Market had fruit on sale for $.20 a pound. I had just dropped them off with five pounds of bananas.









© 1989 Mac