When I was a young girl, my parents installed an above ground pool. They taught us how to swim and wanted us to have some summer fun as a family. Having that pool in the summer was like heaven on earth. It kept us constructively busy. There were strict rules about pool safety, especially when friends were invited over.
I remember not long after the pool went up, my dad put up a tall wooden fence. It was so high that someone would need a ladder to be able to look over it. The fence had panels with very little space in between the slats so that nobody could look through and see the pool or the space around it. It had a lock so that people could be kept out. The temptation of pool access to neighborhood kids while we were not home was a concern.
Fences serve a practical purpose. They indicate boundaries. It is a signal to people that there is a line that cannot be crossed without permission or invitation. It guards privacy and protects outsiders from danger or getting hurt.
There are other fences that are invisible to the naked eye. They are called boundaries. These are things we permit or do not permit in our personal space. As long as they are used in a healthy manner, boundaries are good things.
When we don’t have boundaries, or don’t enforce our boundaries, then we fall into unhealthy relationships and behaviors. For instance, not setting boundaries can cause people to not be able to make decisions, not able to say no to people, believe that their happiness depends on others, and it can cause a person to feel sad and angry all the time…to name a few things. None of these things are healthy.
When we set our own personal boundaries, we are able to protect ourselves from being hurt physically or emotionally. We can also set the tone of a relationship by allowing the things we we want to allow and not allowing those things we don’t want.
It is important that in setting our boundaries that they are strong, but also show caring and respect for others. Boundaries allow us to take responsibility for our actions, how we feel and what we do. It also keeps us from thinking that others are responsible for how we feel, think and what we do.
It is just as important that we respect the boundaries of others. When we do not, we are being manipulative and controlling. When we respect the boundaries of others, we are building a strong relationship, building trust and showing that we care.
A fence or boundary is meant to protect and keep something or someone safe no matter what side of that boundary they are on. When it is used for something else, it is not being used appropriately. As we set our boundaries, we need to make sure that they are based on what the Lord would have us to do.
The Lord also respects boundaries. He will only cross over our boundary if invited. And He has set boundaries for us, and these boundaries are written in the Bible. All relationships have boundaries. Have a rocky or difficult relationship? Perhaps it is time to take a look at your boundaries and see if they are in line with what the Lord would have for your life.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus. Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Philippians 2:5