“I would be a great Christian...but people.
Can we do this without the people?!"
I don’t even know where to start with this one because it is such a slippery slope, yet such an important part of our social wellness. If there was ever an alpha woman struggle, it is the struggle of boundaries.
Boundaries with our work, boundaries with our family, boundaries with our friends, boundaries to protect our mind, health, soul, body, and spirit. My boundaries and I have gone to war on many circumstances and situations in my life. At the end of the day, I either learned to honor my boundaries or lost tremendously.
I am currently reading this amazing book called, “Love Like You’ve Never Been Hurt” where Jentezen Franklin addresses hope, healing, and the power of an open heart. I had a eureka moment when I got to truth #4 in chapter 3:
"You may be wondering how to love someone who is toxic. This person may suffer from a drug or alcohol addiction, maybe verbally or physically abusive or may have violent tendencies. You can love in your heart, willing and praying for the person is good--from a distance.
Being a Christian does not mean being a punching bag, a doormat or a crash-test dummy. Yes, God calls us to make sacrifices, to turn the other cheek and to forgive every offense. But he does not call us to have deep and meaningful relationships with those who have hurt us deeply. In these instances, it may be necessary to create an intentional space.”
AHA! (In my best Oprah imitation), you mean I don’t have to tolerate someone’s B.S. just because I am a Christian and because we are "family"? It was like deliverance in a book y'all. I have come to the conclusion that yes, I can love a person and maintain a healthy distance based on who they are and how their character traits play out.
I have started to apply boundaries in every arena of my life and I am finding that I have more time to do the things that I love and inspire me, and am spending less and less time angry because a family member, friend, or colleague crossed the line.
Here are six areas in my life where developing boundaries has helped me reclaim my time:
Boundaries with my husband.
My husband and I have personal boundaries. Respect for one another’s boundaries has given us a more peaceful home. We understand that we can be deeply in love and not the same person. We understand that we are best for one another when we have had an opportunity to pursue our individual passions and spend time away from each other.
Boundaries with my friends.
My best female relationships are based on the principle of boundaries. We can have a meaningful conversation and not share every waking detail of our day. We give each other time and room to miss and appreciate each other's presence.
Boundaries at church.
At church, I say "no" more than I say yes. Yes, I can sing, but I don’t need to be in the choir. Yes, I can count money, but someone else can do that too. Yes, I can do hair, but that doesn’t mean I'm spending all weekend braiding or weaving a church member’s hair.
Boundaries with extended family.
I love my family but I do not allow anyone to monopolize my time and show up at my house unannounced. I make conscience decisions about what events I can and should attend, and for how long. Some seasons, i take breaks from family members who tend to add to my stress.
Boundaries at work.
I have learned very challenging lessons about boundaries in professional life. Whether it's learning to say no humbly and nicely, or redirecting work that shouldn't be on my plate, gradually setting up focus time so I can get work done, boundaries allow me to serve my students, but still have a life.
Boundaries as a mom.
Even with my son, Manny, I have boundaries. I love that little boy but I am not Jesus. I am not his savior or deliverer, I see myself more like a guardian on assignment to protect and steward his destiny (in between our kisses and cuddles). This means setting up his appointments, shopping to ensure he has what he needs, but also taking time to just be with his father, so the two of us can be better together for him.
I have come to the conclusion that I like my personal space. I like having boundaries.
I want to help and love others, but I will not be enslaved by expectations, guilt trips, or false burdens of what it means to be a Christian, friend, or family member. The only thing I am willing to strive for is God's kingdom, which I have come to understand starts in my heart. People in my life are still adjusting to my newly found boundaries. I will give them grace until they do.
My boundaries are liberating me. I never thought I would say that, but it sure feels like freedom.
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