“Don’t let anybody make you do something you do not want to do. Don’t allow someone to utter yes for you while you’re still undecided (say “I’ll think about it”). And do not allow anyone to ever tell you that “No” is not enough. It is. ‘No’ is a complete sentence. Saying no is a right we all have. Use it.” – Anne Lamott
Can I get an amen for St. Anne?
Here’s a newsflash for us all, sisters: Just because you’re a Christian, it doesn’t mean you have to be a doormat.
You know, I have enough of my own baggage and sins to deal with. With all due respect, I can’t carry someone else’s stuff. I don’t need my bags to be any heavier thankyouverymuch.
Yet time and time again, I’m placed in situations where someone else’s sin–be it their pride or jealousy or insecurity or you-name-it, has threatened to leave gunpowder on my sleeve.
Here’s the thing: the sooner we realize when someone else’s treatment of us is because of their own sin, the sooner we understand when a relational boundary needs to put into place.
I’m not suggesting we aren’t ever free of fault. Psalm 139:23-24 says “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” We do need to ask Him to reveal our part of any ill treatment at the hand of someone else.
Yet there will be times when you aren’t guilty of a crime. But if you are, you also don’t have to repeatedly pay the fiddler for your offense. It’s then when boundaries become your new BFF.
But what are boundaries and why do we need them?
Think of boundaries as a fence around your personal being. When others mistreat you, you can ask them, ever so lovingly, to leave your yard. There’s an unspoken respect we are expected to give one another but let’s face it: not everyone has learned this social cue. Or they’re so poisoned by their own sin they’re threatening to make you drink it, too.
Regardless, boundaries are not a dirty word. Boundaries allow us to:
1. Define the line so we know when it’s been crossed.
2. Maintain our roots in Him. When we are rooted in God and commit to following Jesus, we are saying to the world that we aren’t identified by their standards. We are identified by His expectations for how we are to live and we lovingly won’t accept anything that crosses that line.
3. Communicate healthy expectations in a relationship.
4. Not be overscheduled but instead, take care of ourselves. Ever heard of the acronym for B.U.S.Y? Being Under Satan’s Yoke. When something is crossing over our boundary of time, we can politely say “no.” (See Anne’s quote above)
5. Speak the truth in love. When we establish healthy boundaries, we can stand firm, but loving, in what we have implemented.
How do we know when we need to establish a healthy boundary in a relationship?
1. The offender repeatedly mistreats you and makes biting remarks that are often not direct so they can still CYA (Google it) but their intent is to take you down a bit. This is called Passive Aggression (PA).
2. There is an obvious lack of humility when you attempt to talk to this person about your own hurt.
3. He/She repeatedly spin doctors the issue so you leave the conversation feeling like it’s always you and not them.
4. You notice you’re consistently feeling beaten-down when you leave his/her company rather than built-up.
5. He/She doesn’t have your best interest at heart–just his/her own.
The above are symptoms of an unhealthy relationship and it’s wise to integrate personal boundaries or we are going to have some seriously spinning heads, sisters.
But here’s the good news: when you get the hang of boundaries, they’ll set you free. Promise.
Since this is such a deep subject, we’ll discuss sticky boundary situations and what boundaries are NOT (hint: they are NOT unChristian) in Session Ten next Monday. In the meantime, let’s ponder . . . Have you ever had to integrate boundaries in a relationship? What did you learn? What questions do you have about establishing boundaries? We’ll answer questions in the post next Monday!