Creating Protective Fences with Words

My children enjoy running around our small, in-town back yard.  It is probably ten feet square but it is their little patch of green where they dig for worms, search for bugs, and read books while sitting on mounds of soft moss.  The boys know to stay in the back yard  and not to go down by the river or into the neighbors' yards.  My nine year old knows the boundaries by heart but our little three year old needs physical markers.  He knows that he cannot go any further than the old willow's root that sticks out of the ground or else he would be too close to the slope that leads to the river behind the house.  He also knows that he cannot go beyond the lilac hedge that separates our yard from our neighbor on the left and he cannot go beyond the driveway on the right to avoid going into another neighbor's yard.  In the physical world we tend to have tangible boundaries that delineate limits, however, in the spiritual world boundaries are not as clear.  We need to create healthy boundaries with our words.

"The most basic boundary word is no.  It lets others know that you exist apart from them and that you are in control of you." (Boundaries  p.36)  It is healthy to say "no", even though some of us feel guilty about doing so.

Those two simple letters help define who we are. 

By saying no, you are able to convey your feelings, intentions, and dislikes to others so people can know where you stand.  I know that I have a hard time having a relationship with people whom I feel like I have to walk on eggshells around.  I feel much more comfortable around those who have defined their boundaries and who are comfortable being open and honest.  I can be myself around them and not fear about offending them if I misspeak. I know that if I do misspeak, or offend them, they will let me know and we can work it out.  It is very freeing.

"Your words let people know where you stand and thus give them a sense of the "edges" that help identify you. "I don't like it when you yell at me!" gives people  a clear message about  how you conduct relationships and lets them know the rules of your "yard". " (Boundaries p.37)

Do you have a hard time saying no?  Are you afraid that if you say no to a friend you will endanger your relationship with them?  Perhaps you suffer from self imposed guilt that comes from your own sense of what you "should do".  I have suffered a great deal from the pressure I have put upon myself regarding "I should do this" or "I should do that".  There are many good things, honorable things out there in how we can serve others however just because there is an opportunity to serve does not mean you have to be the one to constantly take up the call.  I have stopped answering every call to serve due to major burnout.  I serve when I can/when I feel led and I am learning when I need to say "no, I am sorry, I cannot help at this time" or "I cannot commit to that block of time but I can do _________".

Let people know the "rules of your yard" and set up healthy boundaries.  Don't make people guess what your boundaries are.  If I allowed my kids to figure out what the boundaries of our yard are on their own they could be attacked by a rottweiler or drown in the river... it is dangerous to not establish solid, healthy boundaries.
Proverbs 25:28
28 Like a city whose walls are broken through
   is a person who lacks self-control.

Enjoy the fruit of self-control as you set sensible limits for yourself.  Have a blessed Monday and if you desire to read more you can click here to grab the book Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.

On the journey with you,