As funny as it may sound, a few of the things I think of when it comes to boundaries are the walls and fences at the zoo that keep us and the animals from getting too close to each other (God forbid!), a ball that crosses over a set line in most sports, and personal space (even pre-COVID….6-foot rule for me, please and thank you)! Simply put, a boundary is a line that should not be crossed (at least not without some sort of permission or rule in place).
Often times when we think of boundaries, we think of something physical, which is 100% accurate. Too often though we forget about those mental and emotional boundaries. What are these and why are they so important? (Glad you asked!) 🙂
In order to reclaim our mental stability (and yes, peace), we have to learn to implement boundaries in our lives. Here’s the hard truth and reality though—it can be very, very difficult, especially if it’s not something you’re used to or have rarely done. (But I promise you it’s doable and certainly worth it!)
I absolutely love The Message version of the Bible because sometimes it’s just the slap in the face, plain talk version that we all need in our lives at times. Proverbs 25:17 in The Message version says it this way. “And when you find a friend, don’t outwear your welcome; show up at all hours and he’ll soon get fed up.”
Yes, this can literally mean repeatedly showing up to someone’s house can be a problem, but we can also view this in relation to personal boundaries being broken. If someone is constantly overstepping the boundaries that we have implemented, it’s inevitable that we will get fed up.
Boundaries are meant to keep things in (and out). They’re meant to keep us safe and they’re meant to protect us. Even in sports they’re meant to keep the game contained to a certain area, and yes, that can even be for the players’ protection (can you imagine a basketball or soccer game being played with no boundaries? It would be a complete disaster!) So, if we understand this to be the case with boundaries, why are they so hard to enact for ourselves?
Personally, I know how difficult it can be. We often don’t want to be viewed as selfish, angry, disrespectful, rude, standoffish, or anti-social when we feel like we need to enforce a boundary with others. These are unfortunately the labels that often get thrown around when someone starts setting boundaries for themselves, when none of these labels accurately describe the behavior.
So, what does setting boundaries look like? (Glad you asked again.) It means making a decision that no one is allowed to steal your peace. Life is going to throw things at us that are simply out of our control and there has to be enough of us available mentally and emotionally to deal with these moments. We unfortunately though will often blur the lines between what we have to do and what truly is an option, leaving us feeling exasperated on a daily basis.
Sometimes we’re going to have to say, “I can’t make it,” and not feel like we owe an explanation. Sometimes we’re going to have to say, “I won’t be able to do that today,” and be okay with our decision. Sometimes we’re going to have say, “I will talk to you later, but not right now.” And yes sometimes, we may need to enforce a little extra time and space apart. Self-love and self-care are not (I repeat) are not selfish!
I hope today starts a new day of boundary setting for you. Be intentional about self-care. Living in your God given purpose is going to require this of you. Your future self will truly thank you!