Boundaries aren’t meant to give us a life behind blockades; They give us freedom beyond barriers.Alex Oram
Setting boundaries is so important to our health. Without them our health takes a hit. The result of failing to set healthy boundaries ushers in not only burnout but emotional, physical and spiritual lethargy faster than water not held back by a dam.
It might just be me but I’ve noticed over the years an explosion of talk on boundaries. By the way, this post is apolitical. I’m speaking strictly in terms of relational boundaries and care not to engage in the debate on political borders right now. Whether it’s boundaries in marriage, friendships, family or with coworkers, we are seeing the increasing importance of this often unfamiliar word come to surface! The interesting part: At first glance the word “boundaries” appears stoic. It sounds cold. The word rings with the sound of similar ones such as “border,” “fence” or “gate.” I’m here to tell you they are not how they seem. Boundaries are absolutely good for you. Here’s why:
You Need Protection
The polar bear that the child gazes at behind glass and the lion at the zoo are both riveting to watch. They are unrelenting and unmatched in beauty and ferocity. Take away the barrier that blocks them off from you and they become lethal, too. It’s a dangerous thing to wish all barriers away, for at a moment’s request, that which has been protecting us vanishes when barriers do. But the child does not understand that. If I were to take my young cousin to the zoo and walk around to each exhibit, she would be overcome with wonder. Her little heart would want to reach out and hug the animals, expecting they are tamed like the neighborhood puppy. We know however, quite the opposite is true. And so we all, until we learn the importance of boundaries, are like children. We must learn to set healthy boundaries in relationships or be ruined by the lack of them.
The Spiritual Equivalent
Consider this: We all are similar when it comes to what we think is good for ourselves versus what God knows is good for us. We all, before experiencing the joy of knowing Christ, think the way to our happiness is by doing what we think is right. What makes us happy. Just do you, boo. YOLO. Whaddup Drizzy? But my Bible tells me, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” Proverbs 14:12 (English Standard Version).
That may be something we think is “right” for us because it makes us “feel” good, and it can even be a relationship or friendship we’ve allowed for too long.
If we think the path we are headed down in life is the “right” one but it lacks God, it’s the wrong one.
We all become susceptible to following our own wisdom rather than God’s. This is the core beneath every sin. The beauty about God is that following Him means He actually knows what is best for us. We can then relinquish our definitions of “good” and trust God that He knows what is really good. He created man to reflect His image. God is a Spirit, so I don’t think that image means physical appearance, rather that He made us to look like Him in how we walk, talk, act, love, serve, encourage and create! Just reflect on that for a moment. Or a lifetime. God gives all those who follow Jesus an eternity to figure it out.
Sex is Fire
Here is but another example. Sex is good. But sex is like fire. Tell me who among you would set fire to the field behind your house expecting good to come from that?! YET how often do we see people and our culture celebrate “sexual freedom” to the extent that the same people practicing it end up themselves in chains to their own sensuality? This is not a judgment cry, rather a rescue call to all in need! Come to Jesus for healing.
In the same way that a fire is warm and a fire is magnificent, sex is great, sex is powerful and sex is beautiful. But everyone puts boundaries around a fire in order to enjoy it. We build a barrier around it or we put it in a fireplace, so that fire does not escape and burn everything outside of its confines.
In the same way, sex was created to be enjoyed in the confines of a covenant: marriage. It fuels the marriage in a way that is unique and powerful. At its core marriage is when two people vow to love and serve each other, for life. “God didn’t even make man until He saw the fullness of Himself in Adam. OUT OF that fullness He made woman, so that Adam would be equipped to love her like God does” (Mohler, 2019). It is so important that we understand original design, because we often talk about original decay and original sin more than it. Original design deserves first place in the church and in life, because the beauty that God intended is unmistakably unmatched and you will find that beauty nowhere other than in the Kingdom of God.
In the same way, we learn to set boundaries around that which is most important to us. We need to guard our time with our family. Every “yes” we say to people who beg for our time is a “no” we say to something or someone else. That something is often our relationship with God and family. Which is why it’s always important to create healthy boundaries. When we know what’s most important to us (our relationship to God, our spouse/family, and our work) in that order, we can protect it accordingly in the way we go about managing our time. The same is true for money. A budget is a boundary for your wallet. It allows you to curb what you spend now so that you can spend more on what you want and need.
April 5th, 2019
Mohler, Dan (2019). Freedom from Guilt, Shame, and Condemnation [YouTube Video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qq3fElpIHPM&t=3383s