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Q&A with Chip Ingram - Let's Talk About Relationships - Setting Healthy Boundaries

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram
The Truth Network Radio
February 21, 2020 5:00 am

Q&A with Chip Ingram - Let's Talk About Relationships - Setting Healthy Boundaries

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram

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February 21, 2020 5:00 am

This program’s jam-packed with answers to your questions on a range of topics:

Family conflict, ongoing disfunction, what’s a Christian’s biblical response? Is there a difference between forgiveness and reconciliation? How do you know when to set boundaries? In-laws; how to handle dangerous, toxic relationships; and how to stop past relationship insecurities from ruining a new relationship.

Our Daily Bread Ministries
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Our Daily Bread Ministries
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Wisdom for the Heart
Dr. Stephen Davey

I gotta tell you I am super excited about today's program.

We ask you to send us questions and you did today were to talk about some heavy duty stuff toxic relationships, setting boundaries, you're not going to want to miss. Welcome to this Friday edition of Living on the Edge with children Living on the Edges of international discipleship ministry featuring the Bible teaching trip your teaching this entire month centers around the topic of relationship kids God says about how to build great healthy relationships and how to raise a Christian family, and we get so many emails and calls about these kinds of issues. We thought this would be a good opportunity to have you interact a little more directly to help us with that we've asked our listeners to send specific questions and today and next Friday were taking the time to have your answers many of them as we have time for.

So can you tell us a little more of your reasoning, your your heart behind taking the time to do this well you know when I get to teach God's word, something that happened early on in my life was rather than sort of going to the back of the church somewhere people immediately came up to me and they started asking questions and what I found was some of the greatest ministry that I've ever done in my life wasn't when I was teaching or preaching. It was when I was talking to the people. Immediately afterwards, they heard a message God spoke to them may be encouraged that may be convicted them. Maybe they were really confused and what I found was I mean literally for decades. I would have a line of people and for anywhere from you know 15 to 45 minutes. I would be doing kinda Q&A after the message and because I was in church and most of my years were we had multiple services. It was like while after the first or second surface and I heard these what the questions it actually help me teach better but when I realized that Living on the Edges so often people hear a message and and we don't know exactly what's going on in their life with a good sense but we thought if were really going to help people. What if we would just sort of open up and say what are the questions that you have and were not experts on not a psychologist I'm a pastor but what can we do to to help you specifically in the challenges and the struggles or things that are confusing. So that's our goal behind the Q&A and and basically it's an experiment it's not that we can do it every Friday until Jesus comes word is gonna give this a whirl and and will need to hear from you.

Is this helpful or not an end, though, I disclaimer before we get going here is that sometimes people ask what I call our $25,000 questions, you know, I mean there are huge issues that have 10 or 20 years of history and believe me Chip Ingram is not going to have some answer that solves everything. And so I hate to give a $0.25 answer to a $25,000 question so what I want people to remember is this is my counsel from my limited wisdom from my limited experience not to be confused with the will of God and what you need to do is what the Scripture says you need to in a multitude of counselors I would just be one is to weigh these things and go to the Lord and say okay Lord Jesus I in light of all the other counsel, and your word and may be a couple of chips thoughts. What do you Lord want me to do and I think if you do that as as a listener. Maybe we can be of some real help when Jerry, it's good to be together again and you know what what the questions were to tackle today.

Today Chip.

We've got a lot of questions circling around family conflict and we know because are both part of families and we have families of our own that conflict sorta goes hand-in-hand with being a family member. Okay, so here's our first question from a listener. Chip, can you explain the process to me of of restoring a relationship with my family member. I feel like I've truly forgiven the person but I just don't feel like having that phone number in my life anymore does not mean that I haven't truly forgiven them while like I said, these are $25,000 questions that that is a loaded question and not knowing all the dynamics I want to be very careful not to give a try to answer because let let's let's let's unpack this a little bit. First of all the conflict and family relationships are normal. Okay, let's let's let's get out on the table that husband and wife brother sister in-laws were going to have conflict with family members, and so that we don't over spiritualize it. Sometimes they're very intense you're very angry you been very hurt sometimes even really betrayed and you know your to forgive them and so you do so let's get out, let's pause Jerry for the forgiving another person is proactively saying to God I am releasing this person from payback and vengeance for what they've done to me in exactly the same way because of Jesus, you have release that from me, you know, so we need to really get forgiveness isn't an emotion. It's a choice, and so now you choose to forgive them and I think this is where some people get little bit cloudy is now I've made that choice, but that doesn't mean that I can keep bitterness in my heart. That doesn't mean like I've illegally. Wife said the words and I don't want my brother my life anymore. I don't want my dad my life anymore. Unless this is where it gets complicated. Maybe you forgiven the person and there's some issues about how they treated you abusively, maybe even sexually or in ways that damaged your own relationship with your mate states and in law where you do have to set some boundaries so a let's talk about forgiving is a choice and then after you forgive them. You know the person says I don't want to have them in my life anymore.

Does that mean I haven't forgiven them. Let let me go down to past path number one is you have genuinely forgiven them and their continued behavior that is unrepentant that continues creating deep deep problems with the way they treat you the way they treat your children. They may bring.

Having so reconciliation is impossible. The fact that you don't want to be around someone that limit. Let me personalize my father-in-law when he was living would come to our house and treat my wife terribly. I mean say things to her make comments to her she be depressed to read three weeks every time after they left, he was a very, very uncaring person who compounded rejection her life and I was a young dad and I did know we are, what to do when I tried I wanted to be supportive of her and so finally I you know I then I had to forgive them over and over but I resented him and and I'll never forget. He came to her house and visited and made a couple comments and my wife later are you know she was in tears. Yet again, and so I I said to my you know my father-in-law. Why don't we go to the grocery store we went to the grocery store and then we got back we sat in the car and I is Nims Fred S and Fred, I need have a serious conversation with you and I want you to know that the way you were treating my wife and your daughter is completely unacceptable and if you say a critical negative word to her. By the way, I had to really muster up the courage to know for a few days to get this thing going.

If you say anything to her. That's critical and you keep getting on or I'm going to take you and your wife to the airport and fly you back to West Virginia because you're not can do that anymore my house.

So on the one hand, I would forgive him, but we had the cycle where I never set a boundary. So on the one hand, I think you can forgive and set a boundary let let me give you another one. I talked with a lot of people and I've had this experience as well is you forgive them.

They haven't done something that's you know ongoing abusive send it would just give you justification to keep them out of your life. You just don't want them in your life. You know I got there a family member and you just don't like him right now and let me ask you Jerry before I go on is that, ever, ever happened. You are hot, how you deal. I think this is a dicier one where you forgive him, but emotionally it's just like, but now the chip at your wife or your husband. You gotta keep a short leash on the thing but but but what you do or how if you handle this when it's a family member not. I think often it's it can be, in-laws, or it can be those of us that have grown children and then you have daughter-in-law's and son-in-law's and you know that family grows so you're not around each other all the time but they do something this conflict and it really hurts and you know why I don't want to be around them. I think it's interesting that you mentioned about your in-laws the eye to set a boundary and I like the differentiation that you shared between forgiving, it leads to forgiveness is one part reconciling leads to reconciliation is a whole different. Yes topic. Yes, I think sometimes we assume that if I forgive that I must reconcile, or if I have forgiven, then reconciliation is a transactional must do that follows Rafter forgiveness and what I'm hearing from you is that's not always the case exactly and what I would say is it's not only we tend to have that idea. Other people do. So someone who's treated you terribly and especially if they're Christian, and especially their family member, you get what I thought you forgive me, meaning everything's okay but you're still coming to our house and doing to our children what we talked about.

We said we don't want you doing X behavior and you keep doing it well. As long as you keep doing that and working to set a boundary and then you get this hello Christian is as well.

You have a really forgiven me because were not reconciled right that's that's I think the strength of your of your coaching there is in the boundary setting as it relates to the other one like you forgiven, but you still don't want them around. I think that as humans. Recovery takes time recovering from a wound, I cut my finger. Sure, I might need stitches of it's really severe I might need to glue it shot, or I might wear a Band-Aid for a week.

The reality is that our emotions have similar variables in the time to recover. We just have to set some boundaries I can sort of muster up the courage to get through a finite amount of time with that person so maybe it's I know that man that person is really hurt me. I'm going to set a limit of I can do a dinner and a breakfast which means one night in my home or one night in their home and it means that I'm I'm going to schedule something else for the lunch before the dinner and I'm in a schedule something else for the lunch. Following that breakfast because I'm gonna need some airspace to recover, recoup, talk it out with somebody that I trust and then be ready to be a loving friend, loving family member, you know. Following that, I think that's very wise and I think to do is when were going to ask for forgiveness. Sometimes time is really important because if you don't really get before God and owned that you're really going to release them conversations in families that go like this. What I want you to know I forgave you for the way that you talk to me what you said to me the way you did this thing with one of my kids and by the way that you haven't paid me back and I just want you know I forgive you for all that, and that the fact the matter is, is what they hear is you are justifying all the different things. That's not forgiveness and I think, but communications the key. I was in a situation recently with a family member in and there were some conflict in you know wasn't the end of the world or anything like that but we needed to get it, you know, taking care of and I and I communicated and by the way, could, could we just say to everyone forgiveness by email, and forgiveness night by text is just stupid doesn't work and get misinterpreted there certain things that have to be face-to-face, but I think what you can do is make sure you communicate Esso in the situation just just an email to say hey I know we need to get together and I want to get this resolved.

Could could we could we wait maybe three or four days or a week.

I need some time to get my own heart right before God before we meet. And so, otherwise, that silence it.

It's like people make up stuff people I make up stuff in my head and and it grows. First Thessalonians 5 verse 14 it says admonish the unruly encourages fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all men and I've really thought about that. It takes courage. There's times where there's a family member. It just takes guts to just admonish him.

I mean I was shaking in my boots with my father-in-law, but that was that change the trajectory of our marriage in a relationship and I think there's other times where you know encourage the fainthearted to just put your put yourself in their shoes and realize you know while you know, maybe they're under a lot of pressure their job or they have a lot of small kids right now. Or they just come out of a health issue and you know like like how about help the week.

You know, encourage the fainthearted because I think our defenses. The thing that makes family conflict escalate is when we want to defend ourselves and when we want to make sure everything is fair. Be patient with all men.

And that's a very interesting word has the idea of a of a long fuse you know just it's it's going to take time that they're not going to change overnight.

Just like we don't change overnight. As I think a level of compassion and we always can't come back to this Jerry Living on the Edge you know I can't do any of that unless I am coming before God saying I really want to be honest with you. Yes I need to own my part of it and one of my rules in this this will sound funny but when I have a conflict with anyone, but especially a family member. I kind of figure out whose fault it is because we do this and I give a percentage.

I actually do this in my mind should go and and usually I start off with.

It's always 9010 90 them 10% me and then but but a lot of times I'm a little bit more, you know, honest. It's like in a 6040 and because it's their problem, but but there's 40% mine and I've gone to this little process when I pray is what I be willing to own more than I think is mine and it's really interesting. Got III think I think I'm 40% wrong. So I'm a big part of this and then I did a little word study and in one of the one of the thoughts of of a word study of Scripture talking about forgiveness and things was being willing to go beyond what is due.

It's the idea of being gentle or willing to yield, and to be able to even in the conversation, except more blame than you honestly think because here's what I came to if my heart really is deceitful. If I'm convinced it's 40% my problem. In reality, it's probably at least 50 wife and and and it's amazing how it takes the tension out of the relationship when you volunteer and take on a bit more than you really think is yours and I think what that really is is humility, and it's really hard to do but think that's where God's grace comes in chip. I love the picture of owning more than I am responsible for. I think that's what Jesus wants us to do, but I want to ask you about the very toxic relationships.

You, the ones where I've done everything I can. I've I've owned more than I should and still the person does not respond the way they should, and I basically become to the end of my relational rope because either I am in danger or my family members emotional stability is in danger and it's like I just keep beating my head against the wall where they say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. Jerry, I think there is a kind of person and and honestly, who are among the most committed the most faithful, the most sincere whoso want everything to work out.

Whoso want to be godly whose very difficult for them when it's toxic and I mean they keep believing that if they just do something a little bit different. You know dad or mom won't come and drink this time. Or so-and-so won't do what they've always done, which is you know attack everybody in the room or you know I probably don't have to make up a lot of illustrations as people listen have their own stories, but I do think there is a time where you realize Romans chapter 12, near the end around verse 1617 it says respect what is right, literally the word is consider or take thought for what is right in the sight of all men. Be at peace. As far as it depends on you and the fact of the matter is, is that there are some people that are toxic.

They are narcissistic. They're angry, they're not safe and they keep doing the same thing over and over and over and over, and I think there's some really sincere believers who somehow think well what have I done wrong and if I can only fix it and I just I like your picture they beat their head against the wall and they keep doing damage to themselves. I do think there is a time where as far as it depends on me. I've done all that I can do and then you step back and you set a kind and loving boundary, and then you communicate clearly. When you are able to know then state the behavior change, then we can resume our relationship and we love you we care for you but this is an impossible relationship under the current behavior and circumstance. And that's a really hard thing to do but the other thing that I will tell you having sort of done this pastoring thing for over three decades is often people never change until there's real crisis and part of the crisis is they get cut off from the relationship and they actually have to deal with this isn't working for me anymore. Again, every relationship is a system and often there's a toxic person and a person who becomes the victim and I've gotta fix it and they just keep playing.

You know, sort like tennis back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. Someone has to put the rocket down and say were not gonna continue like this and I think the key is doing that with a heart that says I love you. Love is giving another person what they need the most when they deserve it the least a great personal cost and then I would add, sometimes giving them what they need is not what they want at all and it's very difficult and takes tremendous courage.

I think the key is, is that your motive, that's what I that's my motive. It's not about you know what I'm just gonna cut you off your out of my life.

I won't deal with this. That's not a godly response but there are times where the barrier goes up until that person changes that relationship won't work well and you shared that great example when you gave your father-in-law Fred that boundary. I mean, I know then that story there yet.

I know that he came all the way around and that he was able to show Teresa a father's love in a way that she never expected. And so it could very well be you said it takes and cigarette rock bottom where that that ultimatum has been set that boundary has been set so clearly that unless this changes we can't be a part of your life anymore so thanks for sharing that story. I think that's so helpful to know that when we take the courage when we and that's in Christ are doing that a man is not on your own When we are in Christ when were with him, saying, I know this is my family needs me to do when we step out and that kind of faith in that kind of courage. God meets us whether it's the way we want it and the timing they wanted and probably not but he is faithful and I would remind people don't listen to what people say listen to their behavior and he walked out the door. You'll never see me again will never come back to this house as long as I live.

I'll never see my grandkids again and then some choice words for me and you know what and it was like it's over right and as much is Teresa was hurt. She certainly didn't want that. So I was between a rock and a hard place and she wasn't mad at me but she grieved.

I mean this is her dad and you know is really interesting. We didn't hear from him absolute silence for like four months and then this is a little bit of a generational thing. Then we get a phone call I was going as though nothing happened real every nothing happened and there's a lot of people that operate that way and it's like, well, how are we doing everything's okay but yeah it's good and literally he never said, especially my presence. Another critical word to my wife. Hugs he came and visited and so in a God does work and is encouraging, so chip on a completely different topic, here's our next relationship question and it's a great one. How do we keep our past relationship insecurities from ruining our new relationships.

Yeah that is a good question. I think one of the first things is is identifying so what are our past insecurities you know is it fear. Is it anxiety is it thoughts that I don't measure up.

Is it that under certain circumstances, I'd I tend to do a lot more image management is it that I really want people to like me and I begin to act like someone that I think they'll like, rather than being myself, and I think we all just have this great fear of rejection, but I think it's very important to just stop and say what are my insecurities and write them down in a journal or something and then as you look at this new relationship unit before you let it get too deep. I will, I would kinda look back and say, is there any pattern that my insecurities are producing in relationships in general and I get the idea. This is sort of a romantic relationship from you know a little bit of the context around this question and so you ask yourself you know in past boyfriends past girlfriends or I'm sure there's people listening in a past marriage are insecurities cause us to do things that are really detrimental to our relationship. It causes us to attack it causes us to shut down.

It causes us to hide it causes us to do all kind of thing. So this is a tough one but look back and say how have your insecurities showed up.

Is there any pattern in past relationships and then once you identify. Am I think it just really important to face him and at some point in time I would say with a person of the same sex and for some people if it's been a really bad journey with a good Christian counselor or pastor I would process them and talk about, you know, this seems to be the pattern in my life then you know what I realize is that I'm super sensitive to rejection and this is what I tend to do, or on the I'm obsessed with my outward appearance, and therefore you how I dresser my makeup or whether I go to the gym and I'm kind always projecting.

We all have some of those things, but I think identify them face him and and then in a new relationship. I would look for an opportunity in a very gentle way to begin to unveil where some of your insecurities are because that kind of takes that takes the sting out of them and the power out of having to keep living a lie or casting an image that you know isn't the real you. So chip I think your your reality of knowing your own insecurities and then not keeping them a secret because so many things we do act inadvertently absolutely act out of our insecurities and we don't even know, sort of like a knee-jerk reaction of how we how we react with someone. What I really found refreshing in your series is that you made it really clear that everyone is desperately insecure. It's not just me.

It's not just you. It's everyone. We are all born with it. We live with it. We walk through it or carry it with us. How does knowing that about your mate or the person that you're dating or the person you're engaged to. How does that help or what does that. How does that play into the conversation wise we taught you know insecurities usually show up in in either powerful responses or weak responses and and and powerful responses are when you're around someone and you start to feel intimidated, that's likely part your issues, but it's probably part that other persons issues.

Some people hide behind. I mean they look.

You know super sharp tell you who they've met super over the top confident name drop a little bit you know they do some things that make make them look really big, successful, have it all together.

The moment I start feeling a bit intimidated by someone doing all that. A little light goes on and I kinda smile not outwardly because that would be unkind, but I kinda smile inside and think while this person is really insecure to whether whether whether telling me is there hiding and and and they went.

And then instead of being critical or comparing or being intimidated, you know, I just kinda had this little private conversation that says you know something I'm gonna refuse to let that intimidate me and hide me from that person, and often it starts with you know a question that asks them something about themselves or actually be a little bit vulnerable so they don't feel compelled to be so big you know. Wow that's really interesting that you know I've always found that in situations like that. I always get a little intimidated or those are challenging for me.

I don't know if you ever have experienced that and how they respond tells you many times do you want to have a relationship with this person if what you get is all know I never have any problems I've got it all together. Blah blah blah blah blah what you realizes this is not can be someone that you want to spend a lot of time with and I think the opposite is true. Jerry is sometimes you know weak responses when people withdraw their they get not just shy but super super quiet and and when something comes up where you can just deal them like this appear in front of you, then I think that's a time where you realize they feel deeply insecure and here's what's so funny is when people are very, very quiet.

I mean super quiet. We often feel rejected. I mean it.

It's absolutely amazing that you can sit next to someone and I you know this was early on in our marriage my wife first as an introvert and and second, she'd been through a lot and we were on a drive and I come from a very talkative family and in the way you communicate is through lots of words and what's going on and we were on this like hour and 15 minute drive and I knew she was quiet but we got in the car and this is what men do. I'm looking say all men, but some of us, and so would been like 15 minutes and she didn't say a word, and so I thought to myself because I started a couple conversations. It didn't go anywhere. I'm gonna see how long we go is how long ago before she said something and I mean I'm on look at my watch. 45 minutes. I'm in the car. She's not said a word.

I mean I'm boiling inside I'm ticked off unit.

She rejects me what's wrong with her, you know, I can't believe this. Doesn't she care. This is her only time alone and you were getting near where were going to come and I'm ready to unload and she has a sort of smile on her face and then she turns to me and goes all you know chip isn't it wonderful just to drive be in the presence of someone not have to talk feel so close to them and look at the beauty of nature. I just thought all I'm so glad I didn't say anything.

What I want.

Some of us to understand her verbal just because someone's quiet it doesn't mean they're rejecting us, and sometimes at least in my world. I've had to say. Even to this day after 40 years of marriage. Is that crazy honey I don't think today that there is a problem or that there's anything wrong in our relationship, but you've been very, very quiet, like all day and I am having emotions that feel rejection that I don't think are true. So is it true or not. Literally, I'd I just asked her and and 90% of time and we all know know I'm sorry you know what I was you I was in my own world. I was having a good day and then she will often sit on absolutely I feel really close to but just getting our insecurities out. It really does help us communicate and have better relationships. I think it's so powerful. What you just shared, I think so many times we keep things in the dark and so a couple things that really resonate. First, you have to know what your own insecurities. Are you you have to figure out the patterns yet document you to share it with somebody to get out of the dark right even if it's your own personal dark or you don't even know about it yet. And then it's so powerful that you not only know your own insecurities you have to know yourself. Yes you're talking about some really intense self reflection to know your more extroverted you will more social about things your your wife happens be more introverted. She's much more private about things and then you also know how that makes you feel and how you react to it. So those are some really very powerful tools that you're giving us to know ourselves nor insecurities to bring those things out of the darkness into the light's and then to see God work and were talking through these things together. Super helpful and I would just say to people and that's a journey I mean it. If any part of that sounded like, oh what wisdom I can't tell you how many arguments how much pain how much difficulty how many stupid things I've said to learn how you know what, after all these years were still insecure because were falling human beings.

You know, it goes all the way back to God saying to Adam and Eve, where are you and Adam says well naked and so I hid from you, and you know we all hide. We all have shame and the beauty is the truth of Christ liberates us were closed and his righteousness were accepted were loved. When our security is rooted in our relationship with God through the Lord Jesus. We now have the freedom is one of my favorite authors says you know in life.

If you're secure in Christ. There's nothing to prove and nothing to lose and you know when you can live with sort of that sense of peace with yourself.

It's amazing you're actually far more attractive to other people and relationships get way better talk that also about the regardless of the front.

The truth is everyone's insecure, but since that's true, especially bits are maybe one of our kids or even a spouse.

How do we get to the point where they might open up more and have a more meaningful conversation while Dave, the fact is, is that we are desperately insecure and some people it is a lot easier to open up by just their family background. Is there a lot more vulnerable sure and and by personality and for others it's much more difficult and today got Jerry McCully here in the studio with me. He's our head of product development, we've actually created a tool to help people open up that it might be hard for them to open up and you can't use this tell us a little bit about how this works with different people's personalities. Yeah, we put together this this product called discuss this and it's a deck of 52 cards open-ended questions we really believe move people to deeper connection through conversation and sometimes people are necessarily comfortable moving from silence to conversations with some easy questions like, what's your favorite YouTube video. You and I feel like a lot of kids in the states culture have a favorite three or four videos, they always go back to get a good laugh and's assessment is fun to socialize that pacifier on the table and take a look at that video and then we can move into more meaningful questions to like what you're talking about with insecurity.

One of them to be where where can you be the most yourself and why. And I think if you can't be yourself at your family table or in the car with mom and dad were on a walk with grandmother, grandfather Yasser with some friends around the table where where is your safe place and so if you can describe that security comes just from the village around you and what I know and what we've tried to do is it's just can I just say it is just awkward and it normally doesn't happen in your the dad or the mom or the friend of the grandparent in your thinking. Everything is so superficial get off the stupid phone. Could we have a conversation but you know it you can't do it like that and to have a tool where you say let's open this up and let's do this. We've actually seen people open up around the table that normally never would strew and there's these kids or friends are asking to play more and more often like he can get those cards out. Let's do some more questions.

Together, let's all answer this question asked. It's been exciting to see people connecting and also doing the storytelling part of that parents telling about their faith to their kids where the questions is share a story when God answer to prayer in your family how to change the way you view God. And so for a parent or grandparent to lead out with how God has met their prayer need for their kids or grandkids to see if it's an incredible model for them.

Well, we know that were talking about relationships and wisdom, and relationships. This is a tool that will help you move down that path in the way that we all want to. I let me encourage you to get a set will to check out the new discuss this cards just go to your website. whether there for you or to send someone who's got kids at home. Discuss. This is a great way to get the conversation started. Thanks for being with us for the special Q&A program. We'd love to hear your comments about whether or not it was helpful to do that.

Just email on Monday. Chip begins a brand-new series how to raise a healthy family in a modern Lenox Friday will again be asked to answer more of your question.

Until then, this is Dave Gurley say thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge

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