Relationships

Building Healthy Boundaries

Boundaries Quote on peach background

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, boundaries quote from post with peach background“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?

RESOURCES:

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 Image for Wholly Loved's Relational Health Bible Reading Plangrow 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.

Share your thoughts with us in the comments below and connect with us on Facebook and Instagram.

 

We also invite you to join our private online Facebook community where women can share their struggles, prayer requests, doubts, and celebrations. Find us HERE.

 

Relationships

Searching For Deep and Real Relationships

Today’s Instagram culture doesn’t leave much room for the authentic. 

Woman lying on bed covering her faceHave an imperfection? No problem. There’s a filter for that! And who needs real friends when you can have 1,000 followers on Twitter? With the right lighting and proper angles, everyone can look like anyone but their real selves.

The world looks at the exterior, leaving people frantic about covering blemishes. No one is perfect. But society can pressure us to fake it.

Some of us just barely getting by. But does anyone notice? It seems maybe not. 

I came across this – more than once, in times when I needed someone to care, to see my wounds, to help heal them. Or at least, acknowledge they exist.

I remember a time that I was panicking, burying my face into my pillow. The father of my children had just walk out on me. After a terrible weekend of wrestling with what to tell my kids I had to return to work that Monday. 

The entire drive to work my body seemed numb. It was a miracle I managed to stumble through the doors of my job. Then my heart started racing all over again. “What will people say? What are they going to think?” I was practically hyperventilating. 

There she was… The receptionist. What now?! I was nearly hysterical drumming up an excuse for my appearance when she uttered, “Fine, fine, thanks. You?”

Exactly. What. Just. Happened?

Not only was she oblivious to my bloodshot raccoon eyes, but she didn’t even take the time to notice me. She didn’t so much as ask how I was doing. Then maybe she’d know something was off and offer me her ear, a shoulder to cry on, a prayer or at least a tissue. 

Had our conversations gotten so superficial that she was answering a question I never asked? This woman, my coworker, someone I’d consoled in the past…just totally blew me off.

At first, I’ll admit I was shocked. Then I was relieved. If we kept our conversations light enough, I’d never have to go deeper, touching on my feelings and explaining the battle I was facing. Or worse, my part in it all that helped create such a mess. 

I chuckled at the irony of it all. But soon I got upset. Then sad. The experience was so perplexing…

Unfortunately, my children had a similar experience the summer their grandmother died. It was so sad watching them suppress their feelings. And worse, seeing them attempt to open up just to be shut down before they could even begin. 

Later on we saw friends– real friends–that Friends laughingdidn’t say a word about the death. They just opened their arms into which my kids went running. My children clung onto them, without words, letting out all their stored tears.

That summer I made it my mission to listen intently. To give people my full attention. I couldn’t change those who had hurt me but I could change me. I wanted to show others I cared. If I had time, I’d ask them follow up questions and I’d actually hear their answers. I’d also watch for body cues and notice voice inflections.

Their stories were astounding. From the receptionist who was walking two miles to night school after work, to the single mother who’d just moved in with her dad after his cancer diagnosis, to my daughter’s classmate recently placed into her third foster home… So sad. Each person I spoke to carried a burden too heavy for surface-level chitchat. I wasn’t able to lighten their load but I let them know I cared.

Scripture says tells us to “cast all our anxieties on God, because he cares for us” (1 Peter 5:6-7). And God does more than care.  He sees, hears, comforts, helps, strengthens, loves us, and fights for us.

I understand now and seek to do better everyday. That fall I learned struggles hide behind each person’s smile. I learned to focus more intently on my friends, family and colleagues. I extended a little more grace and lent a shoulder to those I felt needed it.

Since then, I do my best not to dismiss God when He talks to me either. I highly encourage you to do the same. To go deeper, to find that something real and fully experience His presence. To open ourselves to Him. To be vulnerable and allow His grace to permeate our lives. It’s something I work on still today.

Have you have ever felt overlooked or dismissed? How can you grow deeper in your relationship with God and others? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

Before you go, have you checked out our next Bible reading plan, 20 Days of Relational Health, yet? 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 Image for Wholly Loved's Relational Health Bible Reading Plangrow 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.

And make sure to connect with us on Facebook and Instagram.

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