I have been thinking about this post for a while…not sure how to write it but knowing that it is important. I decided to turn it into another book review because this topic will never be covered in a single blog entry…it is difficult to cover in a single book. I first read the book Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend in college and have since re-read it. Boundaries define who we are. They allow us to love and serve others in freedom rather than obligation. When you say YES to things…let it be honest and not motivated by guilt. Allow yourself to say NO to things without fear of judgement. This doesn’t happen by accident but through intentional choices and practice.
As I have been navigating through this storm season, establishing authentic boundaries has been a common theme. During the cancer treatment I had to decide what I was able to handle and what I wasn’t. AND THEN…I had to be OK with my decision…even if it was hard for other people to understand and accept. Outside of cancer I had to evaluate what emotions I was responsible for…and what emotions I wasn’t. AND THEN take responsibility or let go depending on what side of the line it fell on. I can only make decisions about things I am in control of but I can’t make decisions for someone else. Recognizing this and applying it has (at times) been hard but absolutely freeing! Encouraging someone is not the same as doing it for them.
The difficult seasons in life have a tendency to aggravate bad boundaries which makes it all the more important to establish healthy ones.
This is the book description from the front flap:
Having clear boundaries is essential to a healthy, balanced lifestyle. A boundary is a personal property line that marks those things for which we are responsible. In other words, boundaries define who we are and we are not. Boundaries impact all areas of our lives:
- Physical boundaries help us determine who may touch us and under what circumstances
- Mental boundaries give us the freedom to have our own thoughts and opinions
- Emotional boundaries help us to deal with our own emotions and disengage from the harmful, manipulative emotions of others.
- Spiritual boundaries help us to distinguish God’s will from our own and give us renewed awe for our Creator.
Often Christians focus so much on being loving and unselfish that they forget their own limits and limitations. When confronted with their lack of boundaries they ask:
- Can I set limits and still be a loving person?
- What are legitimate boundaries?
- What if someone is upset or hurt by my boundaries?
- How do I answer someone who wants my time, love, energy or money?
- Aren’t boundaries selfish?
- Why do I feel guilty or afraid when I consider setting boundaries?
If any of these questions resonated with you I would HIGHLY recommend getting your hands on a copy of this book.
Here are a few good quotes:
“Learn to love in freedom and responsibility not in guilt. Boundaries in no way mean to stop loving. They mean the opposite: You are gaining freedom to love. It is good to sacrifice and deny yourself for the sake of others but you need freedom to make that choice.” page 135
“Problems arise when boundaries of responsibility are confused. We are to love one another, not be one another. I can’t feel your feelings for you. I can’t work through the disappointment that limits bring for you. In short, I can’t grow for you; only you can….You are responsible for yourself. I am responsible for myself.” page 86
“The point is this: we were called into freedom, and this freedom results in gratitude, an overflowing heart, and love for others. To give bountifully has great reward. It is truly more blessed to give than receive. If your giving is not leading to cheer, then you need to examine the Law of Motivation…which says: Freedom first, service second. If you serve to get free of your fear, you are doomed to failure. Let God work on the fears, resolve them, and create some healthy boundaries to guard the freedom you were called to.” page 93
“A boundary is a property line. It defines where you begin and end…You do not exist in a vacuum. You exist in relation to God and others. Your boundaries define you in relation to others.” page 100
- Get and read the book. 🙂
To letting your yes be yes and your no be no…and surviving another week.