4. Boundaries esteem the image of God in me and the people I love. They say Hey, both of us were created in God’s image. So that means justice is pursued not just on your behalf, but mine, too. (Check out this post on burnout…and this one on martyrdom.) If I’m not to think more highly of myself than I ought, it means not only am I not lazy—it also means I’m forbidding an unhealthy perspective about how much I’m needed.
We see it when we don’t stand up for the image of God in people we love, too. It could be in the isolated, ashamed wife whose husband neglects stand up for her when she’s consistently berated or made fun of.
5. God’s jealous, and it’s appropriate for me to be jealous for what counts. And just like with God, a disordered love–Romans describes it as putting created things above the Creator–is stealthy. The holes in me disguise themselves as truly good uses of my time, my energy, my cash, my love. Unfortunately, anything out of its proper order is robbing someone; it steals. Kills. Destroys. Most often, it’s not just me.
And in the case of boundaries, I’m robbing the person I think I’m “helping”–because their love stays disordered. The neighbor who needs to respect dinner time doesn’t better understand how to love when someone doesn’t say no. The unchecked, snarky teen misses out on a respect for authority that could serve him during his entire life–as well as an idea that his parents have feelings and a lot of skin in the game. The wife who doesn’t stay within the budget–and come to embrace that the right image doesn’t equal her acceptance.
6. Boundaries protect future victims. We’ve all encountered powerful personalities who continue to leave a wake simply because it takes so much to say no to them. I’m guessing you’ve also known those entirely shocked when someone confronts them–and so wish someone had the guts to tell them earlier. Sometimes someone telling the truth in a loving way makes all the difference for people who would be affected in the future. If you don’t care enough to be honest, who else might be hurt or used?
(And as a side note–I’ve come to highly value the “red ink” in my life: the editors, the critics, the truth-tellers, the straight-shooters. I’m blessed with the gift not just of “yes men”, but with people who aren’t always my fans.)
7. Boundaries move me away from feeling out of control—so I can love deeper. Author and pastor Danny Silk writes,
Frequent use of the phrases “I can’t” and “I have to” is a hallmark of a powerless person…these statements say, “I feel powerless to take responsibility for my actions, so I will say that someone or something else is making me do it.”
Rather than feeling like I have no choice, that it’s just my role to follow, that I just need to sacrifice and obey—I can choose whether or not I want to say yes or no. I’m not forced, which breeds resentment and a bitter helplessness. I’m not controlled by others’ constant needs or demands. I can think carefully and make decisions about how best to love in this situation—and love a lot more deeply and voluntarily. Loving becomes a valuable choice, rather than an obligation.
Need help with boundaries? Get honest with someone who will help you advocate for what matters.
And check out books like the classic Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life,
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