So last week we had a nice little chat about establishing boundaries and clearly, it struck a chord with many of you because it made a few rounds through social media. Boundaries can be sticky and hard to implement, but as I said last week, they can also set you free once you get the hang of putting them in-place!
God established boundaries with us. Jesus set boundaries during His ministry. Clearly, choosing to integrate boundaries doesn’t make you a big meanie. Whew.
So let’s look at a few things boundaries ARE NOT because there’s a whole slew of misconceptions about the b-word: (By the way, most of this will be found in my book, Heart Sisters:Creating Love and Support Among Women, to be released in 2014)
1. Boundaries are not UNkind: Contrary to what you may have heard, boundaries are not only healthy, they’re holy. As we discussed earlier, Jesus understood His own limitations as a person. He retreated often to rest and pray. He understood when He needed to eat. He spent time in quiet when He needed to grieve or just be still.
Jesus chose to live inside-out—He ministered to His soul inside so what poured out to the people was good. Many choose to live outside-in which is, of course, completely the opposite. When we live outside-in, we prioritize others over our own needs and oftentimes, over the needs of our loved ones. We give the outside world permission to name our identity instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to name us from the inside. Suddenly, we get very confused by not only who we are but whose we are as well. Implementing boundaries is saying “I know this relationship/commitment to do something is going to be more than I can handle at the moment.” In other words, boundaries aren’t unkind–they’re wise.
2. Boundaries are not UNChristian. Having held leadership positions within the church, I’ve had many expectations placed upon my shoulders. Admittedly, I put some of those expectations there myself, however, it’s true that some were placed by others. Regardless, it was expected I would always be Miss Nice Girl because I was a Christian—and a Christian in leadership at that. Nice Girls in Leadership don’t say ‘no’ and they certainly don’t want anyone to think they don’t follow Jesus. Even when I stepped down from leadership positions within the church, I still experienced these expectations due to the public nature of this blog. When I didn’t pursue a relationship to the extent the person wanted to be pursued, I became a “phony.” When I made a mistake, there seemed to be much less grace and I was accused of being “unbiblical.” When I said ‘no’ to anything good, such as mentoring a college student or writing for a publication, it was a rare occasion when someone said “Good for you for looking out for yourself!” Instead, I was often met with criticism and that criticism usually suggested my boundaries were “un-Christian.”
Again, placing boundaries are not only healthy—they’re holy. During a particularly difficult time, I was directed to one of my favorite chapters of the Bible: Psalm 62. Verse seven says, “My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. “ Your honor comes from the Lord and not your critics. When you are keeping your eyes on the cross and know you are undoubtedly hearing His direction, then you’re being obedient to Him if you feel a nudge to put boundaries in place. There’s nothing un-Christian about that, sisters. Far from it.
3. Boundaries are not UNgrateful. When we integrate a boundary into a relationship, we are not suggesting we aren’t grateful for what the other person has done or is doing. We are simply saying that our emotional well-being is more important than being subjected to continuous assaults of the heart. Very often, the offender is using something as a carrot to dangle in front of the nose of their victim but the victim need not be held prisoner to the carrot. The only carrot we follow is Jesus.
What about you – have you struggled with establishing boundaries because you thought it wasn’t nice to do so?
Tune-in tomorrow so we can talk about sticky boundary situations (as in family and other people we have to see regularly)!