Ok, so what is a boundary? Well, I'll share what Cloud and Townsend have to say about it....
Simply put, a boundary is a property line. Just as a physical fence marks out where your yard ends and your neighbor's begins, a personal boundary distinguishes what is your emotional or personal property, and what belongs to someone else. You can't see your own boundary. However, you can tell it is there when someone crosses it. When another person tries to control you, tries to get too close to you, or asks you to do something you don't think is right, you should feel some sense of protest. Your boundary has been crossed.
Boundaries serve two important functions. First, they define us. Boundaries show what we are and are not; what we agree and disagree with; what we love and hate. The second function of boundaries is that they protect us. Boundaries keep good things in, and bad things out. When we don't have clear limits, we can expose ourselves to unhealthy and destructive influences and people.
Lately, the topic of boundaries has been extremely prevalent in my life. It is hard and sometimes uncomfortable to set boundaries. But, if I don't keep the pattern of setting and maintaining healthy, appropriate boundaries with people, I will end up suffocating and suffering in many ways.
I need boundaries because....
- I want to grow as an adult! If others are constantly trying to do for me or even help me to the extent that I am not given an opportunity to make decisions for myself, I will be overly dependent on others. While yes, I absolutely 100% need authority in my life, I do not need to be controlled. Rather I need to be guided and led so that I can learn and grow.
- I am responsible for what is inside my boundaries. The more I allow people in and they begin messing around within my boundaries, the more chaotic things will become and it will be out of my control, although still my responsibility! To avoid the chaos, I want to invite healthy, safe people into my life who will help me while respecting my boundaries.
- I need to be my own person. With boundaries, I will be my own person, apart from others.
- Without appropriate boundaries, I am at risk of being controlled, manipulated, and even (emotionally) abused by others.
As I continue on my journey of learning about and setting boundaries, I am amazed at how gracious our God is! Not once has He given up on me because I must revisit this same lesson over and over. He's so good, that He even brings new things to my attention to increase the depth of the lesson. I am grateful that God is patient with me, that I am created in His image, and that He is not yet finished with me!
Do you need to evaluate your boundaries? Are you letting others in at the expense of your emotional or Spiritual health? Who do you need to set boundaries with, in your life?
"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." - Philippians 1:6
[Excerpt from Boundaries in Dating (pg. 28-29) by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend]