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When Setting Healthy Boundaries Feels Hard

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Every healthy or dysfunctional relationship reveal our ability to set and maintain healthy boundaries. Click To TweetGod-honoring boundaries lead to increased health. Without them, people begin to hide, trust shatters, emotional intimacy decreases if not dies altogether, and isolation grows.

When my daughter was younger, one of her friendships turned unhealthy and caused her considerable and consistent pain. She began justifying the poor behavior, telling herself the behavior didn’t, or perhaps more accurately, shouldn’t hurt and that the other person couldn’t help it and therefore needed patience and grace. The problem is, apart from truth, grace isn’t grace. It’s enabling. Click To Tweet As a result, over time, things became worse—the friend’s behavior, my daughter’s wounds, and the relational dysfunction.

And I struggled to see beyond the problem to all God was doing and was yet to do. Grieved by my daughter’s pain, I wanted to step in, to meddle, to fix. To control. To grasp and hold tight to things God wanted me to release—because I was afraid.

This is often my greatest challenge when setting boundaries. I don’t find it all that hard to take and maintain full responsibility for my behavior, emotions, and reactions. When I sleep in and miss a meeting, that’s on me. When I blow a deadline, that’s on me as well. When something angers me and I lose my temper? Me again.

I don’t like staying in my lane, however, when I know there’s a big old cavern up ahead in my loved one’s lane. When that occurs, I want to veer right and force them onto the shoulder or into a ditch, or perhaps rip their keys from their hands.

As ironic as this may sound, the greater my love, the harder boundaries become. The quote from post on blue backgroundharder it is to not only realize but accept that I am not responsible for anyone else’s behavior, emotions, and reactions—nor should I attempt to make myself so. The latter takes courage, strength, surrender, and significant trust in Christ.

An old pastor from Louisiana used to say, “Don’t try to be the Holy Spirit in anyone’s life.” Click To Tweet

But, what if we’re dealing with something more consequential than a hurtful friend? What if our loved one is heading toward serious self-destruction? What if their choices could, and likely will, destroy everything our relationship rests on, and thus, our relationship itself? I’m relatively certain those scenarios make us all a bit weak-kneed, because we know there’s a potential for deep, heart-breaking loss.

The greater the risk, the more challenging the boundaries, which also means, the greater the potential for dysfunction. Click To Tweet

I have to periodically remind myself of this. When life becomes challenging, for me and those I love, all I can see are the danger signs directly attached to whatever behavior or choice concerns me. Choices I have zero control over—which may be why I’m so tempted to fight for control. To elevate the weakest, most deceptive, and often, destructive, god of all time—the god of self.

In short, I act as if God has fallen short and needs me to step in and meddle and fix and arrange.

This lies at the root of every choice and action. Each moment, I’m either living in surrendered trust and obedience to Christ or I’m trusting in the god of me. Click To Tweet

When I reach this place, I need to get honest with myself, with my fears, and with God. Do I really believe everything I claim to be true about God? Do I believe that He’s all-knowing, all-seeing, all-loving, faithful and true? Do I believe that He has the power to change hearts—and that I don’t, no matter how much I argue, nag, pester, or cajole? Do I believe He has the power to bring order to mental chaos, clarity to confusion, and truth to deception—not only in the minds of those I’m worried about but within me as well?

Do I believe God has a plan in the mess, and that He’ll bring good through it? That He longs to use the situation, as painful as it might be, to grow us all and make us more like His Son?

My internal struggle reveals I likely don’t truly, deeply believe those things, therefore the first and greatest work God wants to do is within me. So, I need to hit pause. I need to quiet myself before Him and ask Him some heart-probing, life-changing questions, like:

What sin are You wanting to purge from me?

What lie or lies are You revealing?

What cracks in my faith do You need to mortar with truth?

And just as importantly, how do You want me to model life, light, health, and faith through this situation?

The next time we land in this place, may God remind us who He is, who we are, and who we are not. What He’s assumed responsibility for, and what He has not conceded to us.

He is the Initiator, Redeemer, Savior, Counselor, Guide, Teacher, and Father. The One who knows all, sees all, and is in all.

Scripture tells us God:
• Convicts mankind regarding sin. (John 16:8)
• Has the power to change hearts. (Ez. 11:19)
• Transforms lives. (Philippians 1:6)

Our role is to:
• Listen for His guidance.
• Speak truth.
• Honor God’s principle of sowing and reaping. (Which means not attempting to shield others from the consequences for their actions.)
• Seek personal growth.

Let’s talk about this! What is God currently showing you regarding boundaries? What is one way you can move toward increased relational health this week?

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Speaking of healthy relationships, have you signed up for our Beautiful Mess mother-daughter conference yet? Find out more HERE.

And make sure to grab a copy of our latest Bible study, Unshakable Unbreakable Joy. In it, you’ll learn, among other things, how to experience joy in all relationships. Find out more HERE. (You’ll be able to access each lesson’s video for free!)

Our new Bible reading plan is available now on the YouVersion app! Access it HERE.
Joy in Chaos Bible reading plan logoGod did not create us to live empty, discouraged, fearful, and defeated lives. He created us for joy. A joy greater than our most challenging and chaotic circumstances. Edited by Karen Greer, Rachel Vaughn, and LaShawn Montoya. Voice talent by Linda Goldfarb.

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