Boundaries

Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.

Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.
-Gal. 6:2-5 (NLT)

I did too much this weekend and I am starting this week tired.  The same thing happened last week.  This got me thinking about boundaries.  This passage in Galatians six, is the first one I turn to for wisdom on boundaries.

What are boundaries?  They are limits, personal limits.  God designed humans with boundaries.  Getting tired, needing rest as well as needing food and water to live, are examples.

A mentor in my life once observed and commented that I had a sort of 'superman' thing going on, where I forgot my humanity, and would get stressed out, tired, depressed, or grouchy; just because I was tired.  I did not know that we can and should stay home and rest, when we have reached our limit.  Instead, I kept and sometimes still do keep going, with bad consequences.  I don't enjoy myself and I am not really a joy to be with, when my tank is on empty.

I am still learning this.  When there is an event and some people are absent, it often is because they are tired or have limits on how many activities they can attend.  Introverts, who make up 16-50% of the population, depending on the study you look at, have to be really careful about how many activities or events that they can be involved in per day or per week.

The scripture passage above can be condensed down to, "bear one another's burdens, but each one shall bear their own load".  Loving people, encouraging them, giving to them, and praying for and with them; is different than taking responsibility for them  The former is godly and Christlike, while the latter is destructive and is what is called enabling.

For example, you can help someone find a job, give them some money or clothes for work, and you can encourage them and support them when they go through the search process.  You can even give someone a job.  All that is good.  The not-good is to do someone's work for them or to pay them for not working.

Personal boundaries are when you know your limits with people and with your self.  I was at a brother's house, talking in the kitchen, and we shared a 2 liter bottle of Coke.  It tasted so good and I was not used to having sugary soft drinks.  My friend said, "we'll pay for this tomorrow", and he was probably right.

We were in a gathering that had been enjoying fellowship time together over food, and some of us discovered that we had food allergies.  Because after an enjoyable dinner together, some would go to bed sick.  I have become one of these people.

I had dinner a few years ago, with some older people, and I shared about this issue with food sensitivities, and they said that it is common and unfortunate that, in their experience, as we age, our digestive systems are less tolerant.

What does this have to do with boundaries?  I believe that more people than we imagine, perhaps even the majority, but for sure a sizable portion, have food sensitivities.  Much of our fellowship or interpersonal times involve food.  For me, and we who are sensitive, or need to watch out in a big way, because of issues like diabetes and heart disease, boundaries play a role in the fellowship of food.

We have to learn boundaries with food, because we need to eat to live.  Here is something to think about:  Do you live to eat or eat to live?  We also are free to ignore boundaries with food, and as my friend said, we might pay the price.

Some people are happy, but somewhat sick, living with heart disease or diabetes, or mental illness; while, on the other hand, there are 'healthy people' who are unhappy.  

I am the steward of our my life.  I am accountable for it.  While, at the same time, I am joined to others, meaning loving in action, supporting others; while not taking responsibility for them.

To quote Kenny Rogers, "you have to know when to hold them, and know when to fold them."  That's boundaries.  If you were raised in a chaotic home, your boundaries might have been violated or confused.  As an adult, we need to learn boundaries, to have a joyous life, with ourselves and with others.

Love others, not being conceited.  Be a careful steward of the life allotted to you, running your own race, not getting distracted by other's lives.  Take personal responsibility.

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I found the photo above here.
For further study on this topic:

Boundaries, by Cloud & Townsend
When I Say No I Feel Guilty, by Smith
The Hidden Link Between Adrenaline and Stress, by Hart

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