• Jill Jarrell Newsome

You Get What You Tolerate

When Mike brought home two rescue dogs, Bella and Lila, we had to get a fence. We chose an underground fence around our property line. We did not want them to get out and go into other people's yards or run away. We wanted to keep them safe by putting up boundaries. So many people do that but why do we find it so hard to put up boundaries in our lives?

Recently I heard this statement which made me start thinking about boundaries and doing this blog. "The biggest barrier to compassion is a fear of setting boundaries and holding others accountable." Acts 20: 35, "It's more blessed to give than to receive." I think this is true but not if you are not a cheerful giver. Not if you are giving out of cumpulsion and dread. Compassionate people say no when they need to, and when they say yes, they mean it. They're compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment.

A boundary for us is saying this is my property and that is not my property. This is me — what I value, believe, need, or feel — and that is not me. But for some reason we end up feeling guilty so set boundaries even though we know we are enabling negative behavior in someone. Boundaries are a part of self care and they are healthy, normal and necessary.

Setting boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even if we are risking disappointing others. Jesus exemplified this. He did not give into his mother and brothers who tried to use their relationship with him to pull him away from the crowd he was ministering to. Often He separated himself from others to be alone with God. He took time to rest so He would not burn out. He did not overextend Himself. More importantly, it kept him full of God, full of grace and full of truth. This made him ready and able to be compassionate and generous in times of interruptions and crisis situations. His time with God gave Him energy and focus.

Many people find themselves enabling selfish or irresponsible behavior in someone they are trying to help. They find themselves walking on eggshells for fear of upsetting the person. Rachel Wolchin says, "Givers need to set limits because takers rarely do." We all have obstacles that can distract us from the life God had intended. Some of the obstacles are the inability to say no or to confront or establish consequences in relationships. It can be a child who does not do their homework or clean up after themselves. A controlling husband who gets angry when his wife disagrees with him. An employee who is defensive about poor performance. A boss who intimidates employees by being critical of those who speak up. A person who will take, take, take and never appreciate. These obstacles can sap your energy, discourage you and damage you emotionally.  We feel if we love someone, we’ll continue to suffer through. We accept the person just as he is, hurtful behavior and all. We continue to give, feeling that is the “Christian” thing to do.

It is necessary to set standards for your life and the people you allow in it. Our personal boundaries protect our inner core. Matthew 5: 37, "All you need to say is simply 'yes' or 'no'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one." We were created to be who God designed us to be and to accomplish what God has asked of us. Boundaries help us determine when to say yes, and how to say no. No need to feel guilty about having boundaries. Proverbs 4: 23, "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it."

When we are hurt by others we must recognize that our love accepts and forgives people just as they are. But we also acknowledge truth. God wants us to be like Him. He wants us to love one another but at the same time, He wants us to require righteous behavior from one another in our relationships. We have to take responsibility for our "yard" and our neighbor has to take responsibility for theirs. When someone steps over the property line, ignoring responsibilities, it is our responsibility to let the person know. We also must remember to forgive, just as Jesus forgives. Luke 17: 3-4, "Rebuke your brother if he sins, and forgive him if he is sorry.  Even if he wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, forgive him."

Proverbs 4: 23, "Above all else, guard your affections. For they influence everything else in your life." We are to take ownership over our souls and what is going on in there. Are you guarding your heart?


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