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boundariescoverToday we will look at what is within our boundaries.  What do we have responsibility for?  Seriously, I had to learn this.  I was so busy taking care of others in my life that I did not “own” my own thoughts, feelings, or behaviors.  I am grateful that I got this through my thick head!  Life is much easier and more peaceful for me now. Another lesson from Dr Henry Cloud and Dr John Townsend’s Book: BOUNDARIES.

WHAT’S WITHIN MY BOUNDARIES?

FEELINGS

Feelings have gotten a bad rap in the Christian world.   They have been called everything from unimportant to fleshly.  At the same time, example after example, shows how our feelings play an enormous role in our motivation and behavior.

Feelings should neither be ignored nor placed in charge.  The Bible says to “own” your feelings and be aware of them. They can often motivate you to do much good.  The Good Samaritan’s pity moved him to go to the injured Israelite.

But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. (Luke 10:33 NIV)

The Father was filled with compassion for his lost son and threw his arms around him.

So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. (Luke 15:20 NIV)

ATTITUDES AND BELIEFS

Attitudes have to do with your orientation toward something, the stance you take toward others, God, life, work, and relationships.  Beliefs are anything that you accept as true.  Often we do not see an attitude or belief as the source of discomfort in our life.  We blame other people as did our first parents, Adam and Eve.  We need to “own” our attitudes and convictions because they fall within our property line.  We are the ones who feel their effect and the only ones who can change them.

The tough thing about our attitudes is that we learn them very early in life.  They play a big part in the map of who we are and how we operate.  People who have never  questioned their attitudes and beliefs can fall prey to the dynamic that Jesus referred to when he described people holding on to the traditions of men instead of the commands of God.

You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human tradition. (Mark 7:8 NIV)

 Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? (Matthew 15:3 NIV)

BEHAVIORS

Behaviors have consequences.  As Paul says, “A man reaps what he sows” (Galatians 6:7-8 NIV).  If we study, we will reap good grades.  If we go to work, we will get a paycheck.  If we exercise, we will be in better health.  If we act lovingly toward others, we will have closer relationships.

On the negative side, if we sow idleness, irresponsibility, or out-of-control behavior, we can expect to reap poverty, failure, and the effects of loose living. These are natural consequences of our behavior.

The problem comes when someone interrupts the law of sowing and reaping in another’s life.  A person’s drinking or abuse should have consequences for the drinker or abuser.  “Stern discipline awaits him who leaves the path.” (Proverbs 15:10 NIV)

To rescue people from the natural consequences of their behavior is to render them powerless.

CHOICES

We need to take responsibility for our choices.  This leads to the fruit of “self-control”

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV)

A common boundary problem is disowning our choices and trying to lay the responsibility for them on someone else.  Think for a moment how often we use the phrases, “I had to” or “She/he made me” when explaining why we did or did not do something.  These phrases betray our basic illusion that we are not active agents in many of our dealings.  We think someone else is in control, thus relieving us of our basic responsibility.

Setting boundaries inevitable involves taking responsibility for your choices.  You are the one who makes them.  You are the one who must live with their consequences.  And you are the one who may be keeping yourself from making the choices you could be happy with. (ouch!)

VALUES

What we value is what we love and assign importance to.  Often we do not take responsibility for what we value.  We are caught up in valuing the approval of men rather than the approval of God.

“Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human praise more than praise from God. (John 12:42-43 NIV)

Because of this misplaced value, we miss out on life  We think that power, riches, and pleasure will satisfy our deepest longing, which is really for love.

LIMITS

Two aspects of limits stand out when it comes to creating better boundaries.  The first is setting limits on others.  This is the component that we most often hear about when we talk about boundaries.  In reality, setting limits on others is a misnomer.  We can’t do that.  What we can do is set limits on our own exposure to people who are behaving poorly; we can’t change them or make them behave right. (another ouch!)

TALENTS

Our talents are clearly within our boundaries and are our responsibility.  Yet taking ownership of them is often frightening and always risky. The parable of the talents says that we are accountable when we are exercising our gifts and being productive. It takes work, practice, learning, prayer, resources, and grace to overcome the fear of failure that the “wicked and lazy” servant gave in to.  He was not chastised for being afraid; we are all afraid when trying something new and difficult.  He was chastised for not confronting his fear and trying the best he could.  Not confronting our fear denies the grace of God and insults both his giving of the gift, and his grace to sustain us as we are learning.

THOUGHTS

Our minds and thought are important reflections of the image of God.  No other creature on earth has our thinking ability.  We are the only creatures who are called to love God with all our mind.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30 NIV). 

Paul wrote that he was taking “captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”(2 Corinthians 10:5) Establishing boundaries in thinking involves three things:

  1. We must own our own thoughts.  Many people have not taken ownership of their own thinking process.  They are mechanically thinking the thoughts of others without ever examining them.  They swallow others’ opinions and reasoning’s never questioning and “thinking about their thinking”.
  2. We must grow in knowledge and expand our minds.  One are in which we need to grow is in knowledge of God and His Word.
  3. We must clarify distorted thinking.  We all have a tendency to not see things clearly, to think and perceive in distorted ways.  We rarely see people as they really are; our perceptions are distorted by past relationships and our preconceptions of who we think they are.  We do not see clearly because of the “log” in our own eyes.
DESIRES

Our desire lie within our boundaries.  Each of us has different desires and wants, dreams, and wishes, goals and plans, hungers and thirsts.  We all want to satisfy “me”. Part of the problem lies in the lack of structured boundaries within our personality.  We can’t define who the “real me” is and what we truly desire.  many desires masquerade as the real thing.  They are lusts that come out of now owning our real desires.  For example, many sex addicts are looking for sexual experiences, but what they really desire is love and affection.

We often do not actively seek our desires from God, and those desires are mixed up with things that we do not really need.

“Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4) 

“He fulfills the desires of those who fear him” (Psalm 145:19)

LOVE

Our ability to give and respond to love is our greatest gift.  The heart that God has fashioned in his image is the center of our being; its abilities to open up to love and to allow love to flow outward are crucial to life. Many people have difficulty giving and receiving love because of hurt and fear.  having closed their heart to others, they feel empty and meaningless.  The Bible is clear about both functions of the heart: the receiving of grace and love inward and the flow outward.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37,39)

And how we should receive love: “we have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you.  We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us.  As a fair exchange – I speak as to my children – open wide your hearts also. (2 Corinthians 6:11-!3)

Many people do not take ownership for how they RESIST LOVE. They have a lot of love around them, but do not realize that their loneliness is a result of their own lack of responsiveness.  Often the will say, “Others’ love can not ‘get in”.” This statement negates their responsibility to respond.  We manuever subtly to avoid responsibility in love. We need to claim our hearts as our property and work on our weaknesses in that area.  It will open up life to us.

We need to take responsibility for all the above areas of our souls.  These lie within our boundaries.  By taking care of what lies within our boundaries isn’t easy; neither is allowing other people to take care of what lies within their boundaries.  Setting boundaries and maintaining them is hard work, but worth it

(REVELATION IS FOR ME FIRST! I am still learning here too, Diana)

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