Tag: healthy relationships

Guard Your Heart (Boundaries – Part 5)

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!

Proverbs 4:23

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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?

Answer – they get married!

(ouch – this was me!)

Advertisements

God and Boundaries (part 3)

So far this week we have looked at Boundaries – When to Say Yes and When to Say No and Good in and Bad Out.

Today we are looking at God and Boundaries

The concept of boundaries comes from the very nature of God.  God defines himself as a distinct, separate being, and He is responsible for himself.  He defines and takes responsibility for his nature by telling us what He thinks, feels, plans, allows, will not allow, likes, and dislikes.

He also defines Himself as separate from his Creation and from us.  He differentiates himself from others.  He tells us who He is and who He is not.  For example, he says that He is love and that He is not darkness.

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. (1 John 4:16 NIV)

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5 NIV)

God also limits what He will allow in his yard.  He confronts sin and allows consequences for behavior.  He guards his house and will not allow evil things to go on  there.  He invites people in who will love him, and he lets love flow outward to them at the same time.  The “gates” to his boundaries open and close appropriately.

EXAMPLES OF BOUNDARIES

Boundaries are anything that helps to differentiate you from someone else, or shows where you begin and end.  Here are some examples of boundaries:

1.  WORDS

In the physical world a fence or some other kind of structure usually delineates a boundary.  In the spiritual world, fences are invisible.  Nevertheless, you can create good protective fences with your words.

The most basic boundary-setting word is NO.  It lets others know that you exist apart from them and that you are in control of you.  Being clear about your NO and your YES is a theme that runs throughout the Bible.

All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. (Matthew 5:37 NIV)

Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned. (James 5:12 NIV)

2.  TRUTH

Knowing the truth about God and his property puts limits on you and shows you his boundaries.  Realizing the truth of his unchangeable reality helps you to define yourself in relation to Him.  When He says that “you will reap what you sow,” (Gal 6:7), you either define yourself in relation to that reality, or continue to get injured if you try to go against it.  There is safety in the truth, whether it be knowing God’s truth or knowing the truth about yourself.

3. GEOGRAPHICAL DISTANCE

Proverbs 22:3 says that “the prudent man sees the evil and hides himself.” Sometimes physically removing yourself from a situation will help maintain boundaries.  You can do this to replentish yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually after you have given to your limit, as Jesus often did.

4. TIME

Taking time off from a person, or a project, can be a way of regaining ownership over some out-of-control aspect of your life where boundaries need to be set.

5. EMOTIONAL DISTANCE

Emotional distance is a temporary boundary to give your heart the space it need to be safe; it is never a permanent way of living.  People who have been in abusive relationships need to find a safe place to begin to “thaw out” emotionally.  Sometimes in abusive marriages the abused spouse needs to keep emotionally distant until the abusive partner begins to face his/her problems and become trustworthy.

You should not continue to set yourself up for hurt and disappointment.  If you have been in an abusive relationship, you should wait until it is safe and real patterns of change have been demonstrated before you go back.  Many people are too quick to trust someone in the name of forgiveness and not make sure that the other is producing “fruit in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3:8)

6.  OTHER PEOPLE

You need to depend on others to help you set and keep boundaries.  People subject to another person’s addictions, control, or abuse are finding that after years and years of “loving too much,” they can find the ability to create boundaries only through a support group.  Their support system is giving them the strength to say NO to the abuse and control for the first time in their lives.

7.  CONSEQUENCES

Trespassing on other people’s property carries consequences. “No Trespassing” signs usually carry a threat of prosecution if someone steps over the boundaries.  The Bible teaches this principle over and over, saying that if we walk one way, this will happen, and if we walk another way, something else will happen.

Just as the Bible sets consequences for certain behaviors, we need to back up our boundaries with consequences. How many marriages could have been saved if one spouse had followed through with the threat of “if you don’t stop drinking, (or coming home at midnight, or hitting me, or yelling at the kids), I will leave until you get some treatment!”  Or how many young adults’ lives would have been turned around if their parents had followed through with their threat of “no more money if you quit another job without having further employment” or “no bed if you continue to smoke marijuana in my house.”

Consequences give some good “barbs” to fences.  They let people know the seriousness of the trespass and the seriousness of our respect for ourselves. This teaches them that our commitment to living according to helpful values is something we hold dear and will fight to protect and guard.

Tune in tomorrow for WHAT’S WITHIN MY BOUNDARIES?

Boundaries – Good In and Bad Out (part 2)

Yesterday we started learning about Boundaries, When to Say Yes and When to Say No.  Today lets look deeper.  This study is from the book:

TO AND FOR

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!

Boundaries – When to Say Yes and When to Say No (part 1)

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”