In college I was working 4 different jobs, going to school full-time, on the leadership of 3 clubs, serving as a member of 4 more, going to every social event on campus and at my church, making new friends constantly and trying to fit in laundry too. I was constantly double booked or having to leave one meeting early to make it to the next event. I wasn’t sleeping very much, had little to no free time and was eating on the go most days. I prided myself in my packed schedule and thought of myself as a successful, thriving person.
I proudly displayed my busy schedule like a merit badge.
Do you find yourself in a similar situation? Do you find yourself struggling to say no? Do you pride yourself in being busy? Do free pockets of time on your calendar make you anxious? Or maybe you can’t choose which thing to say yes to for fear of missing out (FOMO) on “the best”?
These questions and many more are what people struggling with boundaries are asking.
A boundary is something that shows where an area ends and another area begins; a point or limit that indicates where two things become different; a dividing line (such as a river, a fence, or an imaginary line). We see boundaries all around us in everyday life. Our bodies are contained within the boundary of skin. Our days are contained within 24 hours. Laws and morals are created to set boundaries for acceptable behavior.
God created boundaries for himself in Father, Son and Holy Spirit to be more relatable to us.
In Genesis 1:2 we see the earth was without form (no boundaries) and the Spirit (no boundaries) of the Lord hovered over the face of the waters. Later in Genesis 1 & 2 we see the Lord create boundaries for the space we live (created the earth) and the bodies we inhabit (created man and woman). God created boundaries for himself in Father, Son and Holy Spirit to be more relatable to us. He could have existed outside boundaries but like a caring father chose to humble himself for our sake. When we try to live without boundaries we are trying to play God. God created us within boundaries because He wants what is best for us.
Why do we need boundaries?
Boundaries help us know what we are responsible for and what is the responsibility of others. They help us understand what to guard and protect. Just like homeowners set boundary lines to understand what they are responsible for we also need to set “boundary lines” to understand what our responsibility is mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Boundaries are NOT unbiblical, mean or selfish but rather the opposite. Jesus had boundaries when he came to earth and we don’t refer to him as unbiblical, mean or selfish.
We can pride ourselves in our jam packed schedules but inwardly we are wasting away.
Boundaries are like a train on a track. When we know our clear set boundaries and set our “train” on that track, we can move along any of those “boundaries” or train tracks freely. When we fail to set clear boundaries by never saying “no” to anything asked of us, we take the train off the tracks (which it was not designed for). We become stuck and overwhelmed with all the options. In fact, trying to live without boundaries keeps us stuck further rather than if we created boundaries to live in. You see without boundaries we are as useless as a train off its tracks.
How do I create and maintain boundaries?
When our nose is against a wall, we can’t tell how tall or wide or thick the wall is. We need people in our lives who are a few steps back to help give us perspective. We need those who are older and wiser and have gone before us to assist us. These “boundary lines” cannot be created void of community. We need others to help us create and maintain boundaries. Once we are able to establish boundaries, we still need community to help us enforce the boundaries we have created. We need friends who call us out when we are stepping over the line and gently bring us back. Boundaries are always created in supportive communities. If we say “yes” to everything, nothing gets done well: tasks, relationships, your job, etc. We MUST have healthy boundaries to have quality relationships. We can’t do it all. Something will suffer at the expense of making yet another commitment.
Kiana Brown serves as the Operations Administrator for Love Thy Neighborhood. She is also an alumni of the program and served with the homeless for a year in 2010-2011. She now lives in Louisville with her husband Bradley and son Pax.