I remember our first trip to the desert with our kids. We warned them not to touch cactus and what did one child do? She touched a cactus and promptly got a needle stuck in her finger. Of course, we were in a public place with no instruments to extract it so we had to ask for help. We discovered that some cactus needles have hooks on the end. Once under your skin, they aren’t easy to remove. And if they break off, infection can occur.
So it is with some people. They ought to be loved from a distance for safety purposes. Good boundaries are essential because some people are intent on hooking you into unhealthy liaisons. While we are to love everyone, we don’t have to be repeatedly mistreated by anyone.
Recognize the beauty of each creation of God, but beware when you start to see needles. Water as needed, tend to as able—but don’t get too close. And even though the prickly sorts often have had harsh lives, we don’t have to let them needle us into giving everything wanted or demanded. Setting and maintaining clear boundaries is sometimes the most loving stance a person can take. Such self-care models the importance of boundaries. Showing others that they can be loved without having to control or manipulate promotes growth, dignity, and health for all individuals.
In the paths of the wicked are thorns and snares, but he who guards his soul stays far from them. Proverbs 22:5