“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)
According to the book Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, Zondervan, 3/1/2002, boundaries define us. They help us to understand the invisible property lines that state where we begin and someone else ends; what is our responsibility and what is not. We are called to be responsible to others, but not for others. We are called to be responsible for ourselves. Boundaries can be related to fences with gates. The fence is our protection that we keep around us at all times. However, we may want to open and close our gates from time to time. In a perfect world, we open the gate to let in the good and close the gate to keep out the bad.
Because it’s not a perfect world, we tend to have boundary problems. There are several ways that these boundary problems manifest themselves. First, there are compliants who say yes to the bad and open their gates when they should not. Then, there are avoidants who say no to the good and don’t open their gates when they should. There are controllers who do not respect other people’s boundaries. Finally, there are nonresponsives who do not hear the needs of others. You may recognize yourself in one or more of these categories. I know I do. Every relationship in my life is different and I find that although I have a greater tendency in one area, I have relationships in my life in which I might wear another hat.
The number one common boundary myth that many believe is that if they set boundaries, they are being selfish. They falsely believe that this goes against the church’s teaching that we are to love others. In reality, setting good boundaries is more about stewardship than selfishness. God has called us to be good stewards of our lives and our hearts. Jesus demonstrated good boundaries all the time. A great example is when he went alone to be with His Father in prayer. Boundaries, Zondervan, 3/1/2002says, “Appropriate boundaries actually increase our ability to care about others.”
I have found that I have believed the myth (lie) that boundaries are selfish, and I have allowed my gates to be open and closed at the wrong times thinking I was operating in the name of love – in the name of Christ! I recently ran across this quote from the book The Emotionally Healthy Woman: Eight things You have to Quit to Change Your Life by Geri Scazzero, Harper Collins Publishing, 10/22/2013. “Biblical quitting goes hand in hand with choosing. When we quit those things that are damaging to our souls or the souls or others (or when we open the gate to let the bad in – my words), we are freed up to choose other ways of being and relating that are rooted in love and lead to life (opening our gate to let the good in – my words). For example, when we quit fearing what others think, we choose freedom. Biblical quitting is God’s path for new things to come forth in our lives, for resurrection.”
God says our hearts are important to protect them. Ask Him if there is something that you need to Biblically quit today in order to protect your heart, set good boundaries, and keep your gates open at the right times, letting in the good, and appropriately closed, keeping out the bad.
Can you think of a time when you have let in the bad or not let in the good?
How can you learn from your failure to make next time a better experience?
Do you see yourself as one of the four types of boundary busters?