I would recommend Dr. John Townsend’s “Beyond Boundaries: Learning to Trust Again in Relationships.” I was fortunate enough to be provided several copies in a special pre-release directly from the publisher for review purposes (I gave the autographed copies to members of our Network leadership team and pastoral staff). You can pre-order a hardback copy for under $16 at ( or directly from the publisher at

My favorite chapter was titled, “Knowing When You are Ready.” Dr. Townsend writes, “Simply put, grief is letting go of what you cannot keep. Grief requires accepting, both mentally and emotionally, that something you loved and valued is no more” (90). This could be due to various factors:
* Breakup, separation, or divorce
* Family conflict or change
* Loss of friendship
* Death
* Career disappointment
* Addiction
* Injury or illness
* Financial difficulty
* Childhood trauma

Dr. Townsend proposes, “Grief converts a wound into memory” (91). Jesus lamented, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord'” (Matthew 23:37-39, ESV).

There are six components for grieving a lost relationship:
* Acknowledge the attachment: The greater the grief you feel, the greater the love you have for the person you lost. This would explain how a couple who was married for twenty years could treat each other with such contempt following a divorce.
* Accept that you can’t control the loss: You don’t have permission or power to change the other person’s decisions. Some people mistakenly believe that every problem can be solved if only they try enough. Some things are out of our hands.
* Name what you valued: You must say goodbye to the other person, not simply the negative parts of the person (93). A half grief is never a healing grief.
* Surround yourself with people who are comforting: Being present means they don’t try to give you advice, cheer you up, or change the topic (96). So many of us are so terrible at this. We want to do something. We want to fix it. We offer solutions. We offer theology. Sometimes, we just need to be there for them when no one else.
* Allow sadness: Get out of the doing mode and into the feeling mode. Welcome sadness at times (97).
* Give yourself the gift of time: Devote time and energy – but don’t prolong your grief either.

Official Author Biography: Dr. John Townsend is a psychologist, popular speaker, and cohost of the nationally broadcast New Life Live! radio program, and a cofounder of Cloud-Townsend clinic and Cloud-Townsend Resources. His bestselling books include the Gold Medallion Award-winning Boundaries. Website:

Official Book Description: How do you know you’re ready to trust again … and what does it take to be ready? Painful relationships violate our trust, causing us to close our hearts. But to experience the freedom and love God designed us for, we eventually have to take another risk. In this breakthrough book, bestselling author Dr. John Townsend takes you beyond the pain of the past to discover how to re-enter a life of intimate relationships. Whether you’re trying to restore a current relationship or begin a new one, Townsend gives practical tools for establishing trust and finding the intimacy you long for. Beyond Boundaries will help you reinstate closeness with someone who broke your trust; discern when true change has occurred; reestablish appropriate connections in strained relationships; create a safe environment that helps you trust; and restore former relationships to a healthy dynamic. You can move past relational pain to trust again. Beyond Boundaries will show you how.


One thought on “Boundaries

  1. I have Boundaries by Dr. Townsend and it is one of the greatest books on interpersonal relationships I have read. In fact, It is THE book.

    As somebody who has a number of dysfunctional people in his life, it has helped me set boundaries in dealing with difficult family and friends.

    Sometimes relationships breakdowns are so bad that separation or even severing the relationships in question is necessary, which is hard when it is friends, can be even harder with family members.

    It is not a course of action one takes lightly and it not an easy step to take. Even the loss of somebody who is a vicious, toxic and dangerous person in your life can leave a gap, as you mourn the relationship that was or ”should” have been.

    I am glad they discuss how to deal with the loss of relationships.

    I think I will check this one out.


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