I am in the middle of reading a 25-year-old book that I wish I had discovered 25 years ago. It’s a book called “Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend. A friend recommended it to me; and my co-dependent, people pleasing self started reading it. There are moments it pays to be eager to please those around me, this is one of those moments. Not surprisingly, God put two boundary defining moments in my life once I got into the meat of the subject.
The first came when a dear friend called and wanted to talk about the subject matter for Bible study we are both involved in. Our bible study group is a tight knit group of ladies that are some of the best friends I have ever had. If one of us hurts, we all feel it. Our time together has been spent studying various people and topics; some were great, others lost our attention very quickly. Our latest endeavor is one that requires brutal honesty and serious introspection i.e. severe discomfort and tears (not my cup of tea), but we all agreed to it and started to proceed.
After the first session, I was having second thoughts, and so was my friend. She confessed that she couldn’t do it, God simply wasn’t leading to her this material in this time of her life. She did get a little emotional when she was relaying this to me, afraid that our group would pass her by and forget about her when we were ready to start our next book. It’s hard to go against the crowd even when you’re an adult. What we were doing wasn’t a bad thing, it just wasn’t her thing. But instead of subjecting herself to the possibility of dredging up painful memories and past wrongs, she chose to do what was right for her in this season and step away. Very courageous!
I immediately saw the parallel between her decision and the subject matter in the book. There was a boundary in her life she was unwilling to cross. She wasn’t closing a door on the friendships within the group, she was acknowledging God’s will for her life in this moment and establishing a boundary between the group’s will and her own. Beautifully heroic and gut-wrenching simultaneously.
As much as I admired her strength of drawing a line she was unwilling to cross, I was a little envious that I didn’t have that same strength. I started to think of ways I could exit the study as well. I continued reading the book looking for answers. God spoke to me very strongly in the next section.
The author started explaining how God has boundaries when dealing with us. His Grace and His Love are unconditionally given, but the longings of out hearts aren’t always met. He isn’t Santa Claus. We can’t come to him with a wish list and an expectation that he will grant our every request. The old saying that “You should work like it all depends on you, and Pray like it all belongs on God” ran through my head. If I wanted to overcome my past issues and live in total freedom, I had to confront my past issues. I couldn’t keep running away or stuffing all the negative until I burst, I needed to turn and embrace and then heal from my past. I needed this study. I needed to work at it like the outcome depended on my performance and pray earnestly along the way. God wanted to give me the desire of my heart, healing, but I was going to need to do the leg work for it to occur.
Earlier that same day, I had crossed a boundary in my own life and was starting to feel resentment towards another person. My passive/aggressive nature was flaring up again. I have a standing commitment on Friday mornings that I had missed to spend time with my husband. Spending time with hubby is a good thing, attending the Mom’s in Prayer meeting is a good thing; but because I didn’t have well established boundaries to articulate to either group, I frustrated one and resented the other. Boundaries must be firmly established and respected. If I can’t even honestly tell the people in my life what I want to do, how can I expect them to know? I’m quite sure they don’t possess telepathy. I choose how I spend my time and I can’t resent others when they ask for it if I can’t articulate a “No”.
God has blessed all of us with the ability to say “No” when we need to, so we can “Yes” with sincerity. He wants to give us the desires of our heart, when we work towards those desires. The beauty is in discovering that His desires are our desires, and the right “No” can lead to the best “Yes”.
I am a Christian, a wife, a mom, and a part-time basket case who wants to be a full time writer.