Life without healthy boundaries is absurd, disorderly, and not as God intended. Click To Tweet But I must confess, this is something I learned the hard way.
When I fell in love with Christ, I fell hard.
This was it! The love of my life–the clear solution to all my problems. From this point forward life would be glorious. I expected to hear, “hallelujah chorus” with each step.
I immediately signed up for every service opportunity. You’d find me at church whenever church staff called me with a need. Somehow I felt saying “no” was offensive. That the Christian thing to do was to say “yes” to everything and everyone.I didn’t grasp that even time is limited; everyone only has 24 hours in a day. And it goes by quicker than I realized. Click To Tweet
I remember picking up my children once from preschool. My daughter proudly handed me her drawing–a piece of construction paper with blue crayon all over.
Me: “What is it, honey?”
My daughter: “The world, mommy! Be sure to hang it up when we get home.”
After about a week of passing by her picture on the refrigerator, I had a revelation. This is what my world looked like! One big messy blue streak on top of the other. And half of them ran off the page.
When God created everything, He created it with order and boundaries. Click To Tweet Something I clearly did not have in place in my life.
In her book Present Over Perfect, Shauna Niequest wrote, “But you can’t have yes without no. Another way to say it: if you’re not careful with your yeses, you start to say no to some very important things without even realizing it.
In my rampant yes-yes-yes-ing, I said no, without intending to, to rest, to peace, to groundedness, to listening, to deep and slow connection, built over years instead of moments” Shauna Niequist, Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for… Click To Tweet
It took me being outnumbered by two children, tackled by single motherhood, working 60-hour weeks and filling multiple volunteer positions in church and their school to learn a valuable lesson.
I could not do it all. Better yet, God did not want me to.
My life was completely out of balance. Looking back, I realize I was taking on much more than God expected of me. And by trying to do it all, I wasn’t doing any one thing very well. My behavior was actually self-destructive. There were plenty of tasks I took on, that I realize now, were not what God wanted for me.
I’m not sure why I did. Perhaps I caved to the pressure of what other people expected of me. Leaving me feeling like I had something to prove – showing the world I could do it all. Either way, I know now, I was not asking God for direction in those days and had He given it to me, I was still going against His gentle guidance and acting out of my own will, stepping outside of God’s boundaries.
Scripture says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day” (Genesis 1:1-5, ESV).
Genesis describes God’s intentionality when it came to creation. You don’t find fish in the air or birds in the sea. But my world was certainly out of order.In fact, in the midst of paradise, God created mankind with boundaries. Click To Tweet
“And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die” (Genesis 2:16-17, ESV).When I stepped outside of God’s boundaries, I left myself susceptible to pains that could’ve been avoided. I was weakest when it came to my relationships. Click To Tweet
In their book Boundaries, Doctors Henry Cloud and John Townsend state, “Boundaries define us. They define what is me and what is not me. A boundary shows me where I end and someone else begins, leading me to a sense of ownership” (Boundaries: When to Say Yes and How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life).
This book shed light on my awful habit of absorbing other people’s troubles. I’d make it my duty to solve problems that weren’t mine. What I didn’t realize was how this absolved them of any responsibility. It usually left them worse off and they’d often become repeat offenders.
As a former people-pleaser, I constantly put myself in unhealthy situations where I allowed others to control my schedule, emotions, space, money, possessions, etc. I literally overextended myself to the point that there wasn’t anything left. It affected my children; my health worsened; and my relationship with God suffered because of it.
I learned I had to distance myself, regroup, re-prioritize and build healthy fences around what was mine to keep … and what had to go. To my surprise everything improved because of it. The relationships I kept were enriched and the ones I had to detach myself from were not missed.
De-cluttering my life’s messes gave me the energy I needed to focus on what was most important. Now boundaries excite me! Not only do I love to set them–I love to set the expectations of them. It’s like stating the rules before playing a game.
If you’re like the old me, I pray you learn this principle and take a stand. If you’re tired of getting walked on, it’s time to get off the floor. God created boundaries. They’re biblical. And He will help you live as He intended.
We suffer when we operate without them, and we can cause collateral damage in the process.
This important life skill isn’t taught in school, but it is all-too-important not to learn and teach to our children.
Let’s discuss this:
- In what areas of your life (work, home, ministry, etc.) can you improve your boundaries and how?
- How can boundaries help you be a better steward of your time and grow spiritually?
- Take time to identify people in your life that are unwilling to respect your boundaries. How can you approach them to better your relationship?
- How can boundaries better your relationship with God?
- Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living, Shauna Niequist.
- Boundaries: When to Say Yes and How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life, Dr. John Townsend and Dr. Henry Cloud.
- Necessary Endings, Dr. Henry Cloud
If you haven’t done so, make sure to check out our latest Bible reading plan, 20 Days of Relational Health! You can find it HERE.
Our hearts crave deep, lasting connections–to know we are loved and belong. This Bible reading plan will help you grow in your relationships as you learn to love others well, speak and live in truth, and set the healthy boundaries that will allow your relationships to thrive.