I think most people would agree that it is important to respect boundaries. Most of us, though, would never really think that the Lord has boundaries with what He will and will not do, too. But, He surely does.
We are going to dive right into the meat today; day 24 of the 30 Days of Prayer series!
Let’s dig in and dive into the deep end, for this is where the greatest strength of character and faith is developed.
30 Days of Prayer: Pray to Respect Boundaries (Day 24)
There was a time in my life when boundaries were an aloof concept to me. I did not understand how to respect boundaries that I held deep within myself, but I did understand how to honor those of others, mostly. It took many years, though, to respect boundaries that I held dear because I did not truly know how to respect myself in those days.
I suppose the trouble began with a twist of the lie that as a “good Christian,” it was my job to be the bigger person in moments of conflict and confrontation. However, for me, this idea became a behemoth of silence and non-confrontation, rather than a guide for how to confront love.
My soul had come into agreement with a lie: if I want to be a mature Christian I need to always, always keep the peace, no matter what personal suffering may come.
The fact that I did not respect boundaries for myself led to internal permission for other people close to me to also do the same. One very big case in point for this was my oldest daughter. I cannot really blame her for this struggle. She was a child.
I was the adult, and I had never truly taught her with my own self-respect that I was to be respected.
And this snake of a lie took a long time to unwind, but praise is to God, unwind it we did!
If I want others to respect boundaries that I hold dear, I must also lovingly hold the line for those boundaries in my relationships.
Related: Healthy Marriages Have Healthy Boundaries
This is where I think the greatest confusion begins to sneak in when it comes to boundaries in general. The lie is that boundaries are things that we tell other people to do or not do. Like, “don’t come over here. I have a boundary and want you to keep your hands wayyy over there.” Or, “don’t talk to me like that. I have boundaries!”
The confusion is that these are half-truths needed to respect boundaries, but the fullness of them is in what you will and will not allow to happen without responding with an appropriate consequence. This is not the same as punishment, though a person who does not truly respect boundaries will likely be very happy to accuse you as such.
For instance, if a wife is being abused by her husband and she calls the police the next time he hits her, she has established a boundary. The boundary is “I will not permit you to treat me this way any longer, and I am going to do something about it.”
If a teenager is being talked down to at school, looks the verbal attacker in the eyes, and then walks away unaffected, they too have established a boundary.
The child has asserted “I know who I am and I know my value. Nothing you can say will penetrate my mind and heart to make me think less of myself. I have a boundary around my mind that will not permit you to enter it with your attacks.”
When a parent is raising a pre-teen or teenager and the young adult desires an X-box or some other pricey, or even inexpensive, item of want, the parent may state blankly “time to start saving,” or some other statement to prove the point. That parent has established the boundary that “I am not willing to be the cash register of items for you, but I fully support delayed gratification, hard work ethic, and diligence on your part to earn your desired item. Even if you cry and beg, I have a boundary regarding what I will not do when it comes to your wants, and I will not bend on my morals and what I aim to teach you simply because it upsets you for a time. I have a longer-term vision than that.”
In none of these cases does the boundary-holding individual need to lash out to control the other person’s behaviors.
There is no cajoling or threatening posture to command “respect” for the boundaries of the boundary holder. But, rather a person who can respect boundaries will have a posture of confidence and internal peace that holds the line firmly and in love, no matter what fiery darts of contention fly their way.
When we respect boundaries that we have and hold the line for them in our relationships with others, we experience a kind of unmovable confidence that shields us from doing things out of sync with our beliefs.
I would assess that boundaries and beliefs are intimately intertwined. It is quite difficult to hold a boundary when you do not truly believe that your life is worth much. And, it is even more difficult to speak the Truth in Love if you have no moral guidelines that command you to do so.
Most of us will not naturally stand firm in patience and steady peace in the midst of confrontation and attack. THIS is a fruit that is developed in the spiritual world as we walk with our Abba and learn to see ourselves the way He does.
It takes time to transform our eyes to see the world the way God does and to learn how to respect boundaries the way He does.
Our Abba perfectly exemplifies how to respect boundaries. Not only does He have boundary lines for Himself, but He also loves us enough to respect ours.
God reveals that in the midst of self-respect comes patience for others that could not be there if boundaries were not in place. Self-respect paves the way for understanding why people can lash out in ugliness the way they often do. It creates an awareness within a person to realize, “oh, this person does not really respect themselves quite yet, so they are willing to behave in childish ways.”
When a person is able to respect boundaries within themselves and others there is a significant degree of awareness and intentionality present in their lives. This reveals a mature mindset, which means that the individual has moved away from childishness.
And, God is the epitome of maturity and awareness.
He will not change His mind simply because we cry and complain. We are limited in our perspective, and He knows it, so He is willing to do what needs to be done, even if we get upset for a time. In the same sense, He extends respect towards us and will not force Himself into our lives or force us to develop a relationship with Him.
These are things He extends to us, but will not force, as that would overstep our boundary line.
The boundary line between two individuals is where respect is found. It is where a person recognizes “this is where you end and I begin.”
Boundaries are what permit some of the most difficult conversations to occur in love. Politics, religion, marital disagreements pertaining to everyday aspects like which purchase to make, cleaning the house, responsibilities, etc.
They are what allow a person to stand firmly in self-respect, asserting “I value myself and my opinions, which also inherently demands that I must also extend the same to others. I expect to be listened to when I want to speak, so I will also quietly listen to others when they speak so that I can understand their viewpoints, even if I do not agree with what they say or believe. If I have something to add to the conversation, I will speak to others the way I want to be spoken to, and extend respect with my attitude and my words, even if I am making a statement of disagreement or confrontation.”
This is the greatest reason why it is so important to respect boundaries. Doing so brings in a natural civility between people that can otherwise not be established in love.
The incorrect use of boundaries is when one person tries to overthrow the rights of another to believe something different, or to have a different perspective on a topic. For instance, the current method of conversation in the world of politics is often full of very demeaning, contentious, attacking, ridiculing, and divisive words of aggression and disrespect towards people who do or see things from different sides of the coin.
Sadly, contentious and demeaning behaviors put both parties at immediate odds because there is a readiness to defend, rather than a posture to understand.
When this occurs, a person who aims to respect boundaries will often not even enter into the conversation. They recognize that, though talking, there is no longer a conversation to be had. But, rather, there is a fighting ring for a verbal boxing match, where one opponent seeks to win over the other.
This is not what boundaries encourage. In fact, such behavior is the epitome of childishness.
A mature mind seeks to have both parties enter into a conversation with a mentality of “come, let us reason together.”
Boundaries provide the impetus to first seek to understand another person and then to be understood. They are the foreground to a respectful society of people who don’t need everyone else around them to think the way they think. Instead, it is understood that unique perspectives and ways of doing life are exactly what God intended when He designed such variety in nature.
It is the enemy who provokes a drive towards uniformity that can be determined from outside onlookers. However, the Lord desires conformity of the heart so that man may be about the business of Godly Love, complete with the commitment to respect boundaries.
The Body of Christ is unique in this way, because it is within the confines of covenant that boundary lines become less like walls and more like gateways of entrance into the heart.
I talked about this concept a little in this post on the marriage covenant, because covenant is what permits “two to become one.”
Covenant is what we have with God when we call ourselves His children. We also enjoy a covenant relationship when we understand marriage as more than just a piece of paper. A covenant community is the heart of the Body, where “love for each other” is to be the hallmark of the faith. And, even parental covenant asserts a stance of humility and respect between parent and child to grow and develop together over time.
This is how we become changed and transformed into “new creations” as we welcome God into the inner sanctum of our hearts, and invite Him to reveal to us His perspectives on things. It is through this vulnerable stance of self-respect that we also allow access to another that they may be able to speak into our lives.
Related: 30 Days of Prayer: Pray for Eyes that Can See
Such intimacy requires a DEEP respect for people.
I do not believe that it truly can be lived out in the sacredness that it was designed without first deciding to respect boundaries for yourself and others, always.
So, I challenge you today to assess if you respect boundaries, or not.
Abba, I know that I sometimes overstep and try to force my will upon another, especially in my role as a parent. It might stem from a place of love, but the methods of operation do not always communicate this goal. Transform me, Lord. Make me a new creature. Help me to see more clearly how to respect boundaries, especially when I am scared and fearful of the future.
I know that my fears can get in the way of respect. Guide me and speak to me moment by moment as I learn how to trust You and remain in Your peace. Thank You for being the Rock where I can stand firm. I am lost without You, and love You with all my heart. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Sweet sister, I know boundaries can be tricky. But, I encourage you to explore this topic within yourself. Seek the Lord for the wisdom to address the areas where you are struggling. Invite His perspective so that you may learn a new and better way. I am confident that He will answer just that.