What the Lord desired had been clearly defined. Cain knew it but refused to do it. He became angry when the Lord turned down his grain offering. The Lord warned Cain about the danger with his wrong attitude and actions. He offered him another chance to make it right. Cain refused to heed the Lord's warning, and this resulted in him murdering his brother.
Cain didn't want boundaries. He demanded his offering be accepted his way. He didn't want the Lord telling him what to do and how to do it. Scriptures don't give us the answer to the reason Cain had developed such a self-centered attitude except for the reality of sin's existence. We do know that he rebelled, and the end result was death.
Sin crouches at our hearts. We cry, "Unfair," when we don't get our own way. We say we want to follow the Lord, but often times go along with His boundaries when they conveniently go along with our plans. More often then not, we insist on our way. We dislike boundaries, because we don't understand the safety they provide.
Many times this happens to those who grow up in homes where the adults crossed boundaries that violated innocence. When those that are to protect a person, don't, then the child seeks ways to survive. As a result, unhealthy patterns develop that may take decades for someone to recognize.
Learning to set healthy boundaries in our lives when we've never done it before is difficult. It's especially hard to face our own unhealthiness when in means walking away from a person we love and care about but are not good for us. This becomes especially hard when it's family members such as parents and siblings.
When it's a spouse, ideally, the Lord desires both partners to do what is necessary for reconciliation and restoration. He ultimately wants this for all relationships, because He is a God of reconciliation, but we can only do our part in choosing healthy ways of living and making it right with others.
As we recognize our unhealthiness and begin to pull away to seek health, we may find the other person respond with more hatefulness, criticism, and condemnation. Suddenly, the relationship becomes severed by painful words and actions. It doesn't necessarily have to take place, but we can't stop someone else from making this choice.
Our responsibility is to guard against responding in retaliation toward others for their unhealthy choices and hurtful words or actions toward us. We must continue on the path toward our own health, because no one else can give it to us. We also need to remember that just as it took time for our blinders to fall off so we could see our unhealthiness, it's a process for others too.
Sometimes the healthiest things we can do is to walk away from unhealthy relationships in our lives and pray for their healing as we journey toward our own. It actually takes a lot of courage to recognize when we're unhealthy and to seek the freedom that comes with this truth when it means parting ways with those we love who may hinder our growth.
This path can be hard, lonely, and difficult. However, when it's all said and done, it's worth it. Jesus walks with us toward this transformation, and He always completes the work He started. Grab His hand and walk with Him. You won't regret it.