The Art of Boundaries

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When God made us, He didn't make us able to do all the things all the time. He made us as humans, people who bare His image, but are not Him. We are not limitless, we are not able to meet everyone's needs, we are not perfect. 

When I realized that I'm not invincible--that I have natural-born limits--I knew that something had to change. I needed Jesus to show me how to love myself well in the midst of a chaotic season. And He did. 

Friends, let's talk about boundaries. 

Websters defines boundaries as, "something that indicates or fixes a limit or extent." 

So what do boundaries look like in everyday life? 

It's different for everyone. A lot of factors contribute to the formation of boundaries, so it would be near impossible for me to give you a list of what your boundaries need to look like. But I can tell you what mine look like to give you a better idea of where to start in your own life. It takes a lot of self awareness, evaluation of priorities, and practice of saying "no" but learning the art of boundaries is one of the most beneficial things I've grasped in the last few years. 

Money

My boundaries with money begin with the question of, "Do I need this (insert item here)?" And often, they end with the answer. It means not spending every paycheck the weekend I get it and saying "no" to the offer of going to every concert. 

Food 

Setting boundaries with food is basically learning that we can't eat cake and candy for every meal because our bodies have needs that cake and candy can't meet. If we answer every craving or only eat our favorite foods, we would all be unhealthy. Boundaries with food allow us to honor the bodies that God gave us by filling them with foods that don't harm them.

Work

I have the best job in the world and I LOVE it (this is my job, by the way). But I can't do my job all the time. I can't constantly think about different blog topics or work in the Tower every afternoon I'm free. I accomplish what I have to, I attend the meetings I'm needed at, I communicate with my co-workers, and I turn off my "Choctawk-brain" when I go home. Setting boundaries with my job is what allows me to love it as much as I do. 

Extracurricular Activities

This is where the word, "no" really comes into play. A few days ago, Mary wrote a great blog talking about the difference in being "invested" and being "involved" which really hits home when taking boundaries into consideration. If you didn't get to read it, check it out here

Mary and I have really similar stories in learning what we want to invest our time in. I had to evaluate how I wanted to spend my free time, learn that I don't want to give away every ounce of my free time, and then turn down some opportunities. It's all about priorities and grace. 

“No” is a complete sentence.”
— Ann Lamott

Sleep

I'm an advocate for 8 hour nights. Because, despite the fact that you can "function on only four hours" YOU NEED SLEEP. Set a limit on how many nights you allow yourself out past midnight. Set a bedtime (seriously). I go to bed as early as possible because I'm learning how much healthier and happier I feel when I don't wake up tired. It's possible, people.

Relationships

This is the big one for me. I'm an introvert, which, in short, means that people drain me and I get energized from spending time alone. So that means saying "no" to a lot of time with people. I used to spend every free moment I had with people because "they needed me." I didn't feel the freedom to say "no" just because I wanted to be alone. Then I realized that I can't love anyone well if I don't allow myself time alone. You may be an extrovert (you gain energy from time with people) and you can still function without a minute of alone time, but that doesn't mean you don't need it. 

We all need time alone. We can't always be available to all the people all the time. We can't have coffee with everyone we know every week. We can't be all the things. We all need time to process life, pray, read the Word, and decompress without people around. Finding joy in alone time is a part of becoming self aware. It just looks different for everyone.

Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.
— Dr. Brene Brown

All in all, Jesus will show you where you need boundaries. If you're in a season where you feel overwhelmed and like you have nothing left to give-- think about drawing boundaries. Think about the areas of life that stress you out the most and don't be afraid to draw lines-- with friends, your job, your roommate, or even your church. Jesus will show you. He made you. He knows your limits. And He would love to show you how to honor them. I am confident of that.

Remember, you are not a superhuman. 

Ashton
I've got 99 problems but my 10 o'clock bedtime isn't one

To learn more about boundaries, check out the book Boundaries by Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend. I haven't read it, but I've heard nothing but great things. 

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