“The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18)
For people like me who want to please others, boundaries do not come easy. I have learned when we fail to set boundaries we tend to lose ourselves.
As I sat in an airport pondering all the boundaries around me, I realized the importance of boundaries. When boundaries aren’t established we aren’t being safe. Boundaries protect us. Whether we are in a public setting or private setting, personal or professional we must establish them.
Have you ever felt a gut feeling or some may call a red flag? You know, a signal? It’s your body telling you to be on guard. When we ignore that feeling we are ignoring a God-given sensor to protect us. We are also allowing others to break through those boundaries. Once the gate is open the gap becomes wider and wider until we no longer have boundaries.
If I am honest I did not want to write on boundaries because I am not all that great at monitoring them, or should I say I wasn't (I am learning with some amazing coaching). I sat with my counselor awhile back telling him about an incident where I had spoken up and it didn't go very well. He was very happy and even high-fived me. I asked, "Why are we happy, again?" He said you stood your ground and God took care of the rest. He removed the situation. I sat there a minute to ponder and said, "But it didn't go the way I wanted it to go." He then explained how we set up boundaries and how it isn't about how we may want it to end, it's about God taking care of us when we stand our ground and speak up to get what we deserve. He also talked about how some people have a very difficult time respecting boundaries. This is when we lose our way. The other person inflicts their ways, ideas, or wants on us and we lose who we are and what we want in life.
Needless to say, I felt this may have only been one of a few times in the past year I had implemented the boundary tactic, so I still wasn't convinced this was a topic God really had put on my heart to talk about.
Fast forward a week or so and I am sitting with a group of ladies and one of them is expressing her concerns over an acquaintance and how she tends to override situations when another spoke up and said you must set boundaries immediately. There was that word again, "sigh". I knew I needed to listen up and take notes. God was helping me learn and understand the need for boundaries. Fast forward a few more weeks and I am sitting on a plane talking about life and the word boundaries pop into the conversation. I listened intently at the advice because I knew God was using yet another person to teach me what He so badly wanted me to learn.
My takeaways (as I still learn) are: boundaries are created to keep us safe. When toddlers began to move a parent creates boundaries to protect them. Most of the time they do not like the boundary. They want to bust through it. They don't see the dangers of breaking the boundary, but once the boundary has been compromised dangers are being invited in. This happens to us as adults also. We don't see the dangers of compromising just one tiny boundary. What could it hurt right? Then the gate has been opened and before we realize it our life is not our own anymore. We don't even know what our boundaries originally were or how to get them back.
Boundaries are God's way of protecting how He made us unique and different. Our ways don't need to mimic someone else's ways. No matter whether it's in the professional realm of life or personal we have different views and we should never be made to feel our views or thoughts are not valid. The moment we allow our boundaries to be compromised we are saying my thoughts aren't important. Don't confuse being difficult and not working well with others to be the same as setting up boundaries. I am not implying that concept at all.
My last takeaway is this: if you feel you can't be yourself in the situation you are in then you probably compromised your boundaries. I have found setting boundaries may not always be easy and implementing them is sometimes even more difficult (I have found some people don't like it when you tell them your expectations i.e. your boundaries, especially if they are the type to think boundaries don't apply to them). It is ok if they remove themselves from your life or you remove them from your life. It does not mean you can't speak or be kind, it means you value your worth and know you are fearfully and wonderfully made!
God wants to put the pieces of your brokenness back together again. Are you willing to implement those boundaries and take a chance on God? Because we know He will never leave us or take us down a path to hurt us. He wants to save our crushed-spirits! I invite you to take a look at where you are right now. Are you allowing others to break through your boundaries or are you the one breaking through someone else's boundaries? I am praying God helps us live our best lives with our boundaries intact.