Is It Time for You to Set Some Boundaries?
Boundaries are boundaries, and the same rules apply whether you’re setting them with children, schedules, or relationships. I recently read this analogy somewhere, and it seems to be the perfect word picture for boundary setting. Imagine you’re walking along one day, minding your own business on a sunny day. You cross a bridge over a river, and a person approaches you. Kindly and gently, they say, “Would you hold this rope for me?”
Being the kind, gentle person you are, you assess the situation and see no harm in saying yes. Sure, you can do this person the quick favor of holding the rope. They hand you the rope, and then the person proceeds to tie the other end of the rope around their waist and jump off the bridge. They leave you holding not only the rope but a greater dilemma: If you let go of the rope, that person will crash to the ground.
Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever felt like you simply said yes to something small, and now the problem has been transferred and you’re left holding the rope? I have. And it’s a horrible place to stand. If you’re not careful, you can feel hopelessly in charge of somebody else’s mess.
Boundaries give you the ability to pull the cell phone from your pocket, call 9-1-1, hand the rope to the professionals when they arrive, and then quietly leave the scene. Boundaries give you the option to say, “This problem is bigger than me, and I can’t fix this.” Boundaries give you the clarity to know you can set something down carefully and walk away; if it crashes, it’s not because you dropped it. Boundaries give you the courage to say, “My job here is done.”
The tricky thing is this: It’s not only the draining relationships that get us mixed up. The unhealthy ones, the ones that have hurt us deeply, are just as complicated. Somehow, a lot of us have gotten a confusing list of expectations when it comes to relational boundaries. We somehow think that forgiveness means reconciliation and a restoration of the old ways of doing things. My friends, it’s just not true. It is entirely possible and completely okay to forgive someone and yet still not want to spend time with them. Some friendships may be so damaged by sin and hurt that they cannot be restored this side of heaven. Pay attention when people react with anger or hostility to your boundaries. Sometimes the end of someone else’s respect for you can become the beginning of your respect for yourself. Anyone who truly wants to be in your life for the right reasons will respect your boundaries.