I heard this the other day in a conversation, “I have boundaries!” and thought to myself, “Nope that’s not a boundary!”
So I thought we could all use a little refresher.
Personal boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person constructs to decide for oneself what are acceptable ways for other people to behave when in relationship or proximity to him or her and how he or she will respond when someone steps outside of those limits. (Where to Draw the Line: How to Set Healthy Boundaries Every Day, Katherine, Anne.)
Boundaries are dynamic and affect both people involved in the relationship. They MUST forllow the Rule of 3 – God, Me, You.
THE TRUTH IN LOVE –
It has to be loving towards God
It has to be loving toward myself
It has to be loving toward you
I love/respect God too much, myself too much and you too much to allow you treat me this way.
Oftentimes we put up a stiff arm and call it a boundary. We do not bend because we are focused on our own needs. There is nothing wrong with prioritizing ourselves and our needs but when we disregard the need or respect of another we can NOT call that a boundary. Boundaries are loving/respectful responses to myself, to others and to God. We may be able to convince ourselves that our behavior is loving towards ourself and that God is ok with it, but if we are NOT responding with love and respect to another then that is NOT a boundary.
Don’t abuse your power and call it a boundary, please, that is not it’s correct definitiion, that’s just being a bully. Boundaries are a defensive not an offensive weapon. Boundaries are never intended to make someone do anything. They always offer a choice. Boundaries are for the purpose of guarding our own hearts.
Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
Boundaries act as the fences around our hearts that are there to protect and treasure but others always have a choice in relationship to our boundaries. They can choose to honor our boundaries or not and that will define our relationship, but the fact of the matter is – others still have a choice and how we display, communciate, exercise our boundaires is important.
Remember they are NOT offensive!
Be kind when establishing your boundaries. If you have emotions surrounding your boundaries – like anger, resentment, expectation, disappointment, bitterness, etc – you are actually not ready to establish a boundary with someone. You have work to do! Get out your journal and get to it. Express all of that energy to a God who can hear it and who can take it. Like David in the Psalms, let your heart lament about the people and situations in your life. Once you have emptied yourself of the emotions stirring within your heart and make peace with yourself and God, then you are ready to “make peace” with another. That is the truest design of the function of a boundary –
they are to make peace not war.
Jesus was the master boundary setter. Jesus modeled all of our life principles: sacrifice, prayer, fasting…He also modeled boundaries! He wasn’t a push-over kind of guy. He loved others well, right where they were, never imposing His will on them, standing firm in His own relationship with the Father, entering and exiting places and people as He saw appropriate and necessary because it glorified the Father and was what He needed to do. He was not a conformist, He was not a people pleaser, He was not a doormat or a bully. He was a man of high standard and healthy boundaries.
Jesus, in his Incarnation, had limits that He accepted. He ate healthy foods, got the sleep he needed and even took naps, took time to relax, and did a lot of walking (Matt 4:6-7; 26:18, 20; John 12:2). He sought the company of friends (Matt 26:36-38). And He sought solitude. He withdrew from the crowds to go away on retreat alone. Jesus had personal needs that he put priority on — sometimes even over the needs of other people — and he did so without feeling guilty. Primarily his personal soul care had to do with separating himself from people to be alone with God, who he called “Abba” (Papa).
Jesus lived in a rhythm of life that not only kept him free from burn out, but far beyond that it kept him full of God, full of grace and truth, and therefore ready and able to be compassionate and generous in his response to people, their needs, interruptions, and crisis situations.
He had a singular focus– (This people, this place, this time). He left one city to go to another because he couldn’t be in two places at the same time (Mark 1:38). He was never in a hurry, except to go to Jerusalem and embrace his cross (John 11:6; Mark 10:32). He let go of outcomes. He chose not to force things, but to trust the Father’s will. He abandoned to the Father the outcomes of his sufferings and trials to come. (Mark 14:32-42)
Jesus lived proactively in dealing with temptation and Satan. He guarded His heart
and He wasn’t always nice to people. Often he didn’t do what people wanted him to do. There were many people he didn’t help. And whenever he did help other people he expected them to do their part. For instance, even in Jesus’ miracles he asked people to do something, usually something they felt they couldn’t do. (The blind man had to walk a long way to get to the pool of Siloam to wash the mud out of his eyes.) The man at the pool at Bethesda had to pick up his mat and walk. You and I have to knock, ask, seek, believe! We are responsible to do our part..and Jesus will do His!
So follow Christ’s example, don’t be a conformist, don’t be a people pleaser, don’t be a doormat, don’t be a a bully. Be a woman/man of high standard and healthy boundaries honoring God, yourself and others with kind, assertive boundaries that create peace in your heart and relationships.
Learn more about Healthy Boundaries from my 5-Week DVD-led class – Click on this link to order your Healthy Boundaries Curricuium today!