Wait, What? Aren’t Boundaries Meant to Keep People Out?
Today I continue my series on Pursuing Healthy Relationships…with God, Ourselves and Others. This week we’ll dig into why strong relationships need healthy boundaries.
What Is a Boundary?
In the simplest sense, a boundary is a property line. Boundaries indicate the beginning and end of something. They define who we are and who we are not. In relationships, boundaries give us a sense of limits…what we will and will now allow. Boundaries also help us determine who is responsible for what.
- God is a bonded person (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), yet each aspect of Him is separate having their own talents, responsibilities, and ways of relating.
- God is connected to us, yet is separate from us.
- God continually defines Himself by who He is (Gen. 15:11; 17:1, Ex 20:5, 22:2), what He feels (Jer. 4:19, 15:6), etc.
What Boundaries Are:
Boundaries bring health to relationships because they protect those in the relationship so that love is free to grow. Boundaries promote love by making things clear, and protecting individuals from harm. There are two components of boundaries. We need both freedom and responsibility for love to grow.
- To be different
- To have “needs”
- To disagree
- To be two different people
- To love, or not love
- Both parties take responsibility to do what’s best for the relationship.
- If this does not occur, one will take too much responsibility and then resentment and bitterness sets in, because they are giving too much. One will take too little responsibility and becomes self-centered and/or controlling.
- Each person takes responsibility to work on their own issues, regardless of whether or not the other person is also doing so.
- Problems with freedom and responsibility will cause love to struggle.
What Boundaries Are Not
Setting a boundary is not about fixing, changing or punishing your loved one, child or friend. It is about exerting your own self-control and taking ownership of your life, so that you are protected from harm and are free to love the person you are in relationship with.
It’s saying to yourself, “This is what I will and won’t do in this situation. If I give too much I will be resentful, hurt and will give out of the wrong motivation.”
Results of Boundary Problems (on the inside of you)
It is common to be fuzzy on when to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to others, as well as accept ‘yes’ or ‘no’ from others. Check out this helpful information from Secrets of Your Family Tree, p 177
When I CAN’T SAY “no” to others…I feel guilty and/or controlled by others.
When I CAN’T SAY “yes” to give to others…I tend to be self-absorbed and may not respond to other people’s needs.
When I CAN’T HEAR “no” from others…I want others to take responsibility for me.
When I CAN’T HEAR “yes” from others…I can’t receive caring from others.
Talking to God About Your Boundaries:
This might be new information for you about what boundaries are, and why they are so important for healthy relationships. I encourage you to talk with God about what you are learning. Here’s some ideas…
- Talk to God about your new understanding of boundaries
- Ask Him to help you see the areas you can start to set boundaries (how you treat yourself, how you treat others, and how you let others treat you)
- Ask God to help you accept responsibility for the feelings and reactions that you have
- Ask Him to help you begin the changes you want to make to set boundaries with yourself and others
- Ask God to empower you in the areas you need to change
- Ask Him to help you own your own personal power to effect change in your life (as opposed to feeling the victim of another)
- Ask God to help you not let other things/people be idols above your relationship with Him
I hope this blog post has been helpful for you. Next week I’ll share more about the boundary confusions we experience with those in our lives. I’ll also share specific ways you can apply what you are learning to make your relationships with God, yourself and others even better.
I’d love to hear from you. What made sense or stood out to you? Is this information about boundaries new to you? How have you seen yourself grow in this area?
Please share this post with anyone you feel could benefit, or on social media. We’re in this together…