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?
Today 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 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 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.
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!)
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.
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!)
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.
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:
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”.
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.
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.
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)
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)
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:
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)
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.
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.
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.