When I say todays Daily Prompt I remembered this wonderful series on boundaries. I had to learn what a healthy relationship looked like as I was always the one getting walked on. I seemed to say yes to everyone and everything.
“Yes, I would love to get that for you…
Yes, of course I want to do that…
Yes, I would love to take you to the store…
Yes, I would love to make that….
Yes, I would love to head that project…”
Meanwhile, in my head I wanted to shoot them!
Not today. I have no problem saying “no” today. This series helped me do that.Not a doormat for anyone today!
Who are your neighbors? Are you friends with them, barely say hi, or avoid them altogether? Tell us a story — real or invented — about the people on the other side of your wall (or street, or farm, or… you get the point). Photographers, artists, poets: show us NEXT DOOR.
So, you wonder, if you used to live in abuse and domestic violence, how did you get out Ms. D? Funny you should ask. I recently came across a book/teaching/bible study that was planted in me about 10 years ago. This particular way of looking at…
More from “Boundaries”. This lesson was the one that did it for me. After reading/hearing this lesson, I finally understood what I was doing that attracted the “thieves, robbers, and abusers”. But, there is hope, thank you God, I can be taught! Today I can say NO, today I can enforce consequences and protect myself! Today I know what to look for, and what to avoid, thank you Jesus!
Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life. NKJV
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. NLT
Keep your heart pure for out of it are the important things of life. (NLV)
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. (NIV)
4 TYPES OF BOUNDARY PROBLEMS
1. COMPLIANTS – SAYING YES TO THE BAD
The inability to say NO to the BAD is pervasive. Not only does it keep us from refusing evil in our lives, it often keeps us from recognizing evil. Many complaint people realize too late that they’re in a dangerous or abusive relationship. Their spiritual and emotional “radar” is broken; they have no ability to guard their hearts. (Proverbs 4:23)
This type of boundary problem paralyzes people’s “NO” muscles. Whenever they need to protect themselves by saying NO, the word catches in their throats. This happens for a number of different reasons:
Fear of hurting the other person’s feelings
Fear of abandonment and separateness
A wish to be totally dependent on another
Fear of someone else’s anger
Fear of being shamed
Fear of being seen as bad or selfish
Fear of being unspiritual
Fear ones one’s overstrict, critical conscience (God will never forgive me…)
This las fear is actually experienced as GUILT. People who have overstrict, critical consciences will condemn themselves for things God himself doesn’t condemn them for. When we give in to guilt feelings, we are complying with a harsh conscience. This fear of disobeying the harsh conscience translates into an inability to confront others – a saying YES TO THE BAD because it would cause more guilt.
2. AVOIDANTS – SAYING NO TO THE GOOD
This boundary problem is called avoidance – saying no to the good. It’s the inability to ask for help, to recognize one’s own needs, to let others in. Avoidants withdraw when they are in need; they do not ask for the support of others.
Why is avoidance a boundary problem? At the heart of the struggle is a confusion of boundaries as walls. Boundaries are supposed to be able to “breathe”, to be like fences with a gate that can let the good in and the bad out. Individuals with walls for boundaries can let in neither bad nor good. No one touches them.
God designed our personal boundaries to have gates. We should have the freedom to enjoy safe relationships and to avoid destructive ones. God even allows us the freedom to let him in or to close him off.
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come inand eat with that person, and they with me. (Revealtion 3:20 NIV)
God has no interest in violating our boundaries so that he can relate to us. He understands that this would cause injuries of trust. It is our responsibility to open up to him in need and repentance. Yet, for avoidants, opening up to both God and people is almost impossible.
The impermeable boundaries of avoidants cause rigidity toward their God-given needs. They experience their problems and legitimate wants as something bad, destructive, or shameful.
Complain avoidants suffer from what is called ‘REVERSED BOUNDARIES”. They have no boundaries where they need them, and they have boundaries where they shouldn’t have them.
3. CONTROLLERS – NOT RESPECTING OTHER’S BOUNDARIES
Controllers believe the old jokes about training top sales people: no means maybe, and maybe means yes. While this may be productive in learning to sell a product, it can wreak havoc in a relationship. Controllers are perceived as bullies, manipulative and aggressive.
The primary problem of individuals who can’t hear NO – which is different from being not able to say NO – is that they tend to project responsibility for their lives onto others. They use various means of control to motivate others to carry the load intended by God to be theirs alone.
Controllers come in two types:
AGGRESSIVE CONTROLLERS – These people clearly don’t listen to other’s boundaries. They run over other people’s fences like a tank. They are sometimes verbally abusive, sometimes physically abusive. Most of the time they aren’t aware that others even have boundaries. It’s as if they live in a world of YES. There’s no place for someone else’s NO. They attempt to get others to change, to make the world fit for their idea of the way life should be. They neglect their own responsibility to accept others as they are.
MANIPULATIVE CONTROLLERS – Less honest than the aggressive controllers, manipulators try to persuade people out of their boundaries. They talk others into YES. They indirectly manipulate circumstances to get their way. They seduce others into carrying their burdens. They use guilt messages.
4. NONRESPONSIVES – NOT HEARING THE NEEDS OF OTHERS
Termed ‘nonresponsives’ because of their lack of attention to the responsibilities of love, these individuals exhibit the opposite of the pattern exhorted in Proverbs 3:27 NIV: Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.
Nonresponsives fall into one of two groups:
Those with a critical spirit towards others’ needs – a projection of our own hatred of our needs onto others. They hate being incomplete in themselves. As a result they ignore the needs of others.
Those who are so absorbed in their own desires and needs they exclude others – a form of narcissism.
CONTROLLERS AND NONREPONSIVES have a hard time looking past themselves. They see others as responsible for their struggles and are on the lookout for someone to take care of them. They gravitate toward someone with blurry boundaries, who will naturally take on too many responsibilities in the relationship and who won’t complain about it. It’s like the old joke about relationships:
“What happens when a rescuing, enabling person meets a controlling, insensitive person?
We are responsible TO others for ourselves. “Carry each other’s burdens, “ says Galatians 6:2, “and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” This verse shows our responsibility TO one another.
Many times others have “burdens” that are too big to bear. They do not have enough strength, resources, or knowledge to carry the load, and they need help. Denying ourselves to do for others is what they cannot do for themselves is showing the sacrificial love of Christ. This is what Christ did for us. He did what we could not do for ourselves; he saved us. This is being responsible “to”.
On the other hand, verse 5 says that “each one should carry his own load.” Everyone has responsibilities that only he or she can carry. These things are our own particular “load” that we need to take daily responsibility for and work out. No one can do certain things for us. We have to take ownership of certain aspects of life that are our own ‘”load”.
The Greek words for burden and load give us insight into the meaning of these texts. The Greek word for burden means “excess burdens,” or burdens that are so heavy that they weigh us down.
In contrast, the Greek word for load means “cargo” or “the burden of daily toil.” This word describes the everyday things we all need to do. These loads are like knapsacks. Knapsacks are possible to carry. We are expected to carry our own.
Problems arise when people act as if their “boulders’ are daily loads, and refuse help, or as if their “daily loads” are boulders they shouldn’t have to carry. The results of these two instances are either perpetual pain or irresponsibility.
GOOD IN, BAD OUT
Boundaries help us to distinguish our property so that we can take care of it. They help us to “guard our heart with all diligence.” We need to keep things that will nurture us inside our fences and keep things that will harm us outside. In short, boundaries help us keep the good in and the bad out.
Sometimes, we have bad on the inside and good on the outside. In these instances, we need to be able to open up our boundaries to let the good in and the bad out.
In other words, our fences need gates in them.
And when good is on the outside, we need to open our gates and “let it in.” Jesus speaks of the phenomenon in “receiving” Him and His Truth
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.(Rev 3:20 NIV)
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12 NIV)
Other people have good things to give us, and we need to open up to them.
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 6:11-13 NIV)
In short, boundaries are not walls.
The Bible does not say that we are to be “walled off” from others. In fact it says that we are to be “one” with them.
I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. (John 17:11 NIV)
But in every community, all members have their own space and property. The important thing is that property lines be permeable enough to allow passing and strong enough to keep out danger.
Often, when people are abused while growing up, they reverse the function of boundaries and keep the bad in and the good out.
Tune in tomorrow for GOD AND BOUNDARIES AND EXAMPLES OF BOUNDARIES!
So, you wonder, if you used to live in abuse and domestic violence, how did you get out Ms. D? Funny you should ask. I recently came across a book/teaching/bible study that was planted in me about 10 years ago. This particular way of looking at things helped me learn how to build healthy boundaries and have healthy relationships. I didn’t know what healthy looked like. I did not have any boundaries – I said yes to everything and everyone. And I got buried. This series will focus on the book:
“BOUNDARIES- WHEN TO SAY YES AND WHEN TO SAY NO” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
What Does a Boundary Look Like?
In the physical world, boundaries are easy to see. Fences, signs, walls, moats with alligators, manicured lawns, or hedges are all physical boundaries. In their differing appearances, they give the same message: THIS IS WHERE MY PROPERTY BEGINS. The owner of the property is legally responsible for what happens on his or her property. Non-owners are not responsible for the property. And if it’s not yours – leave it alone.
In the Spiritual world, boundaries are just as real, but often harder to see. The goal of this lesson is to help you determine your intangible boundaries and to recognize them as an ever-present reality that can increase your love and save your life. In reality, these boundaries define your soul, and they help you guard it and maintain it.
“And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” (Genesis 2:16-17 NIV)
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.:” (Proverbs 4:23 NIV)
Me and Not Me
Boundaries define us. They define what is me and what is not me. A boundary shows me where I end and someone else begins, leading me to a sense of ownership.
Knowing what I am to own and take responsibility for gives me freedom. If I know where my yard begins and ends, I am free to do with it what I like. Taking responsibility for my life opens up many different options. However, if I do not “own” my life, my choices and options become very limited.
Think how confusing it would be if someone told you to “guard this property diligently, because I will hold you responsible for what happens here,” and then did not tell you the boundaries of the property. Or they did not give you the means with which to protect the property? This would be not only confusing but also potentially dangerous.
This is exactly what happens to us emotionally and spiritually, however. God designed a world where we all live “within” ourselves; that is, we inhabit our own souls, and we are responsible for the things that make up “us”.
The Bible tells us clearly what our parameters are and how to protect them, but often our family, or other past relationships, confuses us about our parameters. For example, if you were raised in a home where you were always berated and put-down, you many not have any boundaries; you might not be able to say no to anything. Or, you just have walls — to make sure no one is coming in.
In addition to showing us what we are responsible for, boundaries help us to define what is not on our property and what we are not responsible for. We are not, for example, responsible for other people. We are not responsible for what others do or don’t do with their things either. Nowhere are we commanded to have “other-control”; although we spend a lot of time and energy trying to get it!
TUNE IN TOMORROW FOR Part 2 – “To and For” and “Good In, Bad Out”