“Little children, make sure no one deceives you. The person who practices righteousness is righteous, in the same way that Jesus is righteous.” 1 John 3:7 (CEB)
We all know that if you want to run a marathon, you can’t just jump off the couch and head to the race without training. If you want to play an instrument, you will need some instruction and training. Anything you want to get good at, you must practice. Sometimes that can be painful and hard work. The same applies to creating healthy boundaries.
The book Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, Zondervan, 3/1/2002, states that boundary-injured individuals are slaves who struggle to make value-based decisions on their own. They tend to reflect the wishes of those around them and find it difficult to set limits. It also says that as you begin to implement and practice healthy boundaries in your life, you should expect to feel some guilt because this is new territory for you. It goes on to say that you should rejoice in the guilty feelings because they are proof you are heading in the right direction.
I had just read this portion of the book when I received a call from someone with whom I was supposed to meet, together with several other people in less than an hour. She wanted to reschedule, but her presence was necessary. Without her, there was no need for the meeting. I didn’t have phone numbers for everyone who was meeting with us and I knew some were already on their way to the site. She didn’t say she couldn’t meet, she just said that she would rather reschedule. It would be a challenge to reschedule since we were so close to the starting time of our event. Even though it was so against my grain to tell her no, I knew that saying yes would mean Iwould be the one to take the time and effort to reschedule the meeting, while taking the other people’s very busy calendars into consideration. After I hung up the phone, my "people pleasing" instinct kicked in and I worried she wasn’t going to like me anymore. I felt like the meanest person on earth forsaying no.
While we were meeting, several encouragements were laid out for this person to hear by others at the table. None were planned and all were God-prompted. I realized during our time together that she was going through something and God had planned in advance that she would be in that place at that time in order for those words of life to be spoken into her heart. Satan was trying to ensure that she would not come so that she would not be encouraged that day. Although I never knew the specifics of what she was going through, I left that encounter knowing that my obedience to setting a healthy boundary that day had allowed God’s plan to encourage her to come to pass; it had also thwarted the enemy’s plan to keep her sitting in her pit. As I thought back over what I had recently read in my Boundaries book, I rejoiced in the guilty feelings which had almost caused me to give in to her request, which would have added more tasks to my “to do” list for later. I was beginning to practice healthy boundaries and was blessed that God had honored it that day.
What in your life do you need to practice at in order to improve? Do you see a place in your life where your boundaries could use some work in order to get healthier?