My hatred for olives is unshakeable. I have tried to like them over the duration of my life; open to the possibility that taste buds can change. But alas, that has not happened. I’ve heard that pregnancies can change a woman’s food preferences but I was no such woman. I’m still over here, hating all olives.
For Halloween my mom put together a super fancy, over-the-top fantastic display of food and decor at our small family celebration. She asked me to make deviled eggs that were decorated to look like spiders. The spider-element just so happened to involve olives. Lots of horrifically disgusting olives!
When these bad boys were requested I knew I would have to touch and smell olives while carefully assembling the food craft. I really do hate them. I paused and thought about my ability to push through the process of making this dish and realized it mattered to my mom. She was creating homemade whoopie pies, also turned into spiders. Jack-o-Lantern stuffed peppers (so tasty!). Mummy hotdogs. A pumpkin “puking” out homemade ranch dip, surrounded by veggies. Grapes skewered to look like snakes. It was elaborate and so much fun! With all that effort she put into the event surely I could reach down deep and find the strength of character to deal with olives (ha!). The evening was an outpouring of her love for our family and I decided a small amount of self-sacrifice was warranted to show my love in return.
Afterall, love is a verb and needs to be lived out. A certain measure of self-sacrifice is needed to really make love come alive. When we let our own interests and preferences define the relationship it becomes a muted version of the beauty that can exist when we live for others. At times, that means elevating the needs and wants of others above oneself. Compromise, care for others and selflessness must find their way into the most important relationships we have.
But make no mistake. I will not eat the olives.
Love must also have healthy boundaries that demonstrate respect for both people in the relationship; boundaries are also a critical component of love that must be lived out. My olive analogy is a low-stakes one but does underscore the distinction. I will cook with the olives because of love, I will not eat the olives because of boundaries.
Consider the “olives” in your lives. Where must you draw a line in the sand about what are – and are not – acceptable behavior or patterns within your life? Boundaries are relevant in all types of relationships to include those in a workplace setting and those at home with your spouse and kids.
A workplace boundary could be not answering emails after 5pm – “I will answer true crises emails after 5pm but I will not respond to day-to-day needs until the following morning.”
In parenting, it could be something like, “You can be angry but you cannot hit anyone or anything when you feel angry – let’s find a different way.”
Ultimately, boundaries are an act of love because they help everyone have conditions to succeed within the relationship. They draw lines around where you exist, where they exist and where the “we” exists. Boundaries establish what is “in bounds” and “out of bounds” relationally. Think about it as creating fences within the relationship. They are a way to protect everyone involved and provide clarity. Boundaries are a safeguard while also creating the opportunity for sacrificial love and support to show up strong.
It was funny that the Halloween dinner was an opportunity to remind everyone of my olive boundary. That can be necessary from time to time, too: Reaffirming the rules of engagement.
Are you making healthy compromises but also standing firm in the areas you must insist on protecting? Are you clear with others about the olives in your life?
PS – Didn’t my mom do amazing! Also, my sister-in-law was responsible for the delicious ranch dip! It is a FODMAP safe recipe, for those interested and/or following those dietary guidelines.