Tuesday, December 27, 2011

on boundaries.

For the first time this Christmas, I was relieved to see the holiday come and go. It wasn't the sacred, quiet, candy-cane flavored day that I had envisioned. In retrospect, there was too much crammed into one little day, and it left me feeling like I just wanted some eggnog in a closet. I should have spent time praying about our Christmas plans before jumping into them feet-first, and I flat-out didn't. 

Have you read/heard of the book, 'Boundaries'? It's been making its rounds lately, especially in my little church circle. I think it's a must-read for those involved in negotiating trying relationships, or struggling with persistent feelings of guilt in their interpersonal life.While this book has some great concepts, what I'm noticing, though, is that more and more people are using this book as an excuse to escape from doing things that they simply don't want to do. It seems to be perceived more along these lines: Just tell your (fill in the blank) mother-in-law, friend, brother, father, aunt, sister, "No. I don't want to... I'm setting boundaries..." and all is well. 

Let me be the first to say that I completely understand!! Somewhere along the way, I was dubbed 'the person that does the stuff, for the people, when they need it'.... an undeniably eloquent title  ;)

Understanding that you have a choice to say, 'No' is an impowering concept to someone who has spent their life saying 'yes' to everything. It can be a little like watching a toddler set free in a room of toys, but I think we need to be adamantly on guard about becoming grown-up toddlers running around the world, shouting 'no' every chance we get!

I'm pretty certain this selfishness is not the intention of the authors, OR the heart of Jesus.

The Bible mentions boundaries too:
"Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; 
you have made my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.." 

-Psalm 16:5

Enlarge the place of your tent, 
and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out;
do not hold back; lengthen your cords
and strengthen your stakes."
-Isaiah 54:2

What jumps out to me about these scriptures, is that Lord is the one setting the boundaries. It's not our emotions, our schedule, or our wants/needs that dictate what requests we should or shouldn't say 'yes' to. Sometimes, our lives may be more enriched by stretching past our own 'boundaries' of practical life, to heed those that the Lord has set for us. Even isolated towers of selfishness have great boundaries... I just don't think that's what we want our lives to be.

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. 
Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 
not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others."
-Phillipians 2:3-4

I'm still figuring out this whole 'boundaries' thing, and striving to find a balance between being truly servant-hearted and thriving in the rest of my life. How do you balance all of this?!

Lots of love,


  1. Oh, that book. We read the dating one before we got married. I have lots to say but I won't clog up your comment section. ;)

    I sometimes ROCK at balancing and sometime I REALLY don't. I think it comes down to grace - having it with ourselves and having it for others. :)

  2. I don't know. Ugh. I love that book, and am currently listening to the audio version. But, honestly, it is changing my paradigm so much about all I learned as a child...so working it out as an adult is quite difficult. This would definitely be a great book for parents so they can try and avoid messing with their own kids' boundaries! Challenging!

  3. I've never read that book or heard of it but it makes a lot of sense, the idea of setting boundaries for yourself. I've been trying to do that with my therapist, set boundaries between me and members of my family, etc. It's not easy but for our own sanity, it's often necessary!

  4. Balance is such a tricky beast to tame, but one that is so important. Like Caitlin, I have worked on such with my therapist to negotiate my familial relationships. Definitely tough, but it makes life so much more enjoyable when we are showing ourselves the love and respect we are giving to others.


  5. That book is amazing.
    Changed the way that I dealt with more than one person!

  6. HI! Popping over from Heather's blog =)

    1. I think I have a crush on your house/style. Possibly HUGE.

    2. I read the book Changes that Heal by Dr. Cloud and I joke with people that the Boundaries chapter ruined my life =) It's sooo different from everything that I, as a people pleaser, had envisioned about my life. But SO SO true. I'll be praying for you as you process through this book. Super challenging but so rewarding.

    Have a wonderful day =)

  7. Megan- someone JUST recommended that book to me yesterday; I'll have to check it out!