Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Day 48

Boundaries are very hard for me. I either have none at all or I throw up walls. Sigh. Neither is healthy. I really have to work EVERY single day at reaching out to people, even the important people in my life and doing so continually. I tend to want to give up or give in. Both are the unhealthy polar opposites of what healthy boundaries mean. .

So I've been trying to figure out why I tend to throw up walls. And when I start trying to figure things out I turn to God and His word to see what He says. To be honest I really haven't found a lot yet. I am sure there is something there but I am a layman not a biblical scholar. Thus I have to spend more time figuring this out. The only thing I can find thus far is that biblically speaking I know that we are not to be unequally yoked. Previously I've always seen this in the context of a Christian marrying/dating a non Christian. But what about friendships and familial relationships? Can that apply somehow? I am still seeking but this is where my thoughts are at right. Thankfully my walk with the Lord is a continual learning process. I pray daily that if I don't understand something or if I understand something incorrectly that God will show me His truth.

So back to boundaries...in an effort to maintain healthy boundaries at times I go to far. I do reach out. I've really stepped outside my comfort zone since early summer and have been reaching out to people that previously I would never have shared my life with. Women friends especially. And some of these relationships have been to develop beautiful. Yet sometimes, when things get uncomfortable or I feel unsafe, it is still fairly easy to throw a wall up. I literally know when it happens usually. I don't like it. I do this in unsafe situations but I also tend to do it when I am probably not in an unsafe situation. That's where fear comes in.

So how do I find that delicate balance? I think it relates to the idea of being in the world not of it. Basically being counter culture yet not anti culture. In my effort to be a light in the world I am IN the world. I have to be in the world, how else could I minister and reach the loss? I cannot isolate myself from the world or relationships at large and expect for God to use me. That simply doesn't make sense. One of the keys for me is to not allow the darkness of this world to cloud my vision. In some ways I have to tunnel my vision, narrow my focus, and not be sidetracked by all the "stuff". By being counter culture as opposed to being anti culture that means having a judgmental heart. The word says, "Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God." (Romans 15:7 NIV). It's such a fine line. I am definitely not balanced and I fall right off some days but the good news is I now know that line is there.

When I apply the idea of being counter culture as opposed to anti culture to my relationships I find that for me that means healthy boundaries are necessary or I will get sucked back in and lose all the ground I've attained. There are times when you have to sever unsafe relationships. But for the relationships I am working through healthy boundaries are more appropriate.

Without healthy boundaries depression, co-dependency, anxiety, and other side effects crop up and tend to rule my life. Enforcing personal boundaries is self protective and healthy yet it keeps the lines of communication open. It's healthy. It's helpful. It's not hopeless.

But the person on the other side of the boundary may not find it so healthy or helpful or hopeful. Often they feel attacked, shut down or shut out. At times. that is a perfect ministry opportunity. Yet for the most part that's when I tend to put up my wall. If they challenge it, or try to force me to do something I cannot do or simply don't "get it" then my tendency is to shut down. But I don't want to shut down. I need to experience these emotions and deal with them healthily rather than running from them. And by imposing a healthy boundary yet still engaging in a healthy dialog and relationship I am accepting them the way God accepted me. That's what I am called to do. Pulling back and maintaining healthy boundaries doesn't mean pulling back and shutting down. I've lived in that isolation a long time. It's lonely and for me it bred fear and anxiety. I don't want to live that way anymore.

I want to quickly clarify that we need boundaries in all our relationships - not just the ones that seem obviously unhealthy or unsafe. I need healthy boundaries with my spouse, my children, my friends and my family. They help keep me focused on God so He can be ultimate in my life, as opposed to everyone else and their needs being ultimate.

I don't think I ever had healthy boundaries before starting this journey to wholeness. Actually it was this time last year, the week before Thanksgiving, that I started therapy with T. It was the hardest thing I ever did. Yet it's been the most healing thing God has ever used in my life. Part of that process has been finding myself - finding Leah. I literally had no idea as to who I was. I tried to be all things to all people. I literally did it all. I took care of everyone except for myself and that became destructive. That made everyone else ultimate in my life. If everyone else is ultimate where does that leave God? To be brutally honest, he basically fell off the list.

I started developing a healthy sense of self by establishing boundaries and by taking care of myself and spending time with God. It doesn't mean I don't fulfill my responsibilities as a wife and mother or the many other roles I am called to. It simply means I don't fulfill all of those roles at the expense of my spiritual, physical and emotional wholeness or at the expense of God being ultimate in my life.

Boundaries define me from the other people in my life. I am not lost in them or their struggles or their successes. Setting clear and healthy boundaries starts young thus I have a huge learning curve. Thus the reason I tend to throw up walls where boundaries should be. I am unlearning this behavior - I just find the process slower than I want it to be. It's still somewhat unnatural as well. The good thing is I have greatly improved. I tend to talk about my feelings more without expectation. I say no when I need to say no without feeling guilty and I say yes when I need to say yes without feeling forced.

But now that I've experienced what healthy boundaries are like I want more. I want to flow in the knowledge that I can be all that I am called to be without sacrificing my sense of self or my spiritual, emotional and physical well-being. If I focus on God and taking care of myself - I am so much more able to be all that I am called to be.

It's so simple yet I make it SO hard.

Today's Reflection: Boundaries are hard for me God. Help me see when I am throwing up walls. Quicken my spirit to be sensitive and accepting without being emotional emeshed in another person's issues. Help me help others without it leeching my emotional and spiritual wholeness. I long to be reachable. I want to be someone who is not afraid. I want to be able to share how I feel without guilt or anger over taking me. I want to be accepting of others, even those that have hurt me, the way You have accepted me. Perhaps a part of the problem with me throwing up walls has to do with forgiveness. Help me walk in forgiveness daily. Lord I cannot do this without you. In my own strength I am a pitiful mess. In You I can do ALL things because You strengthen me.


Trish November 18, 2009 at 6:54 PM  

I have experienced this recently with someone who was becoming more of a friend but then got offended at something that she thinks happened.

When I tried to address it straightforwardly and make it right, even though I wasn't clear that there actually was something to do on my part, she didn't want to deal with it - she would rather maintain the victim/martyr status she has created for herself.

I never would have tried to address it in the past, just let it go and pretend nothing was wrong. But that's not healthy for me or her.

Thanks for sharing all of these private thoughts so openly - it definitely makes me think!

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