Suzanne took time to contribute her insights: As a partial answer to Doreen's questions, I would like to offer a suggestion. As we work on becoming more Christlike and learning to embody the qualities from the Sermon on the Mount, we do not have to become a doormat for people who consciously or unconsciously want to take advantage of us. I would recommend the book Boundaries, by Christian psychologists Drs..Henry Cloud and John Townsend. Another book that comes to mind with practical advice, though not necessarily from a Christian perspective is Asperger's and Girls, a compilation of advice and first person account.
Rosa shared (all the way from Hong Kong, reminding us that these struggles—and helpful insights-- are universal): When we interact with people, we can be honest, true and humble at the same time. There are different ways for us to be honest in an effort to avoid being a hypocrite. For example, if someone did something inappropriate, we can say, "can you think of another way to handle this?" instead of "this is wrong. You did the inappropriate thing again!" In this way, we can stimulate the person to consider other possibilities to manage the situation instead of focusing on the fact that he/she did wrong again. At the same time, we are not portraying ourselves to be the expert guru pointing a critical finger at the person who made a mistake. If we remain honest, tactful and humble, the relationship will not be spoiled and interaction and communication can be sustained.
In thinking about this for the last few weeks, I think one way to look at it is that we achieve this through “effective authenticity.” I have often written about two kinds of responses: Authentic responses, and Socially Effective responses. I believe we are the most effective in our interactions with others when we are authentic in loving them and being who God created us to be (think of I Corinthians 13, the fruits of the Spirit, the Greatest Commandment). But as we respect the fact that they, too, are created in God’s image, yet are affected by sin, we should temper our interactions with grace, mercy, and forgiveness.
Although Christ was the epitome of love and sacrifice, even He was angered by injustice, and defended truth and vulnerable populations. His choices showed evidence of very healthy, Godly boundaries as He interacted with people from a variety of backgrounds. “Speaking the truth in love” sometimes means sharing difficult information which may end up hurting someone, but for the purpose of building up others and promoting truth.
Thanks to everyone who has taken time to share your insights! I love to hear from you, and appreciate the opportunity to learn from and pass your insights along to others. I hope we can continue to incite (encourage/prompt) each other toward effective social interactions that help ourselves and others to grow personally and interpersonally as we “nourish, grow, connect, and contribute!”