As we move further into the book, the author wants to cover the opposite of the “laws” covered in the last chapter (part 1 & part 2). They talk about “myths” in Chapter 6 that people tend to believe about boundaries. These are myths that people believe because they’ve either grown up with the belief or the on the surface the myth seems to have some merit. However, as we read in this chapter we’ll come to learn that there’s a lot out there that needs reexamined. Let’s dive right in!
Myth 1: “If I Set Boundaries, I’m Being Selfish”
“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” – John 13:35 (NLT)
This myth is the battle between being selfish and being a good steward of what God has given you. It’s the battle between being too open and too closed to be much good for anything God has planned for you. By being able to set and enforce proper boundaries in your life, you ensure that your resources (time, money, energy, etc…) aren’t wasted or hoarded. When we have strong boundaries, we can love and help those who will receive it while turning away from those who would abuse, misuse or simply neglect your investment in them. God has invested much in you, and it’s up to us to protect that investment. Just as a good shopkeeper locks the door after close, we need to protect what God has invested in us.
Myth 2: “Boundaries Are a Sign of Disobedience”
“For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” – Hebrews 4:12 (NLT)
“An internal no nullifies an external yes” writes the author of this chapter. This entire myth revolves around the inability to correctly use the word “No”. When the word “No” is avoided, we end up saying “Yes” to others and then resent it because there is only fear rather than love. When the word “No” is overused, we can end up shutting out things that are good for us. Both improper uses of the word “No” will make this myth a little closer to reality than it should be. When we can tell others how we truly feel inside, it clearly sets a boundary between us and them.
Myth 3: “If I Begin Setting Boundaries, I Will Be Hurt by Others”
“What sorrow awaits you who are praised by the crowds, for their ancestors also praised false prophets.” – Luke 6:26 (NLT)
Quite simply, we can’t control what others do. Along with this, we can’t isolate ourselves from others either. There’s a “happy medium” that must be found where we can setup our boundaries and tell the truth to others without it destorying or alienating us. We must evaluate our relationships and take steps to be direct, truthful and firm where we may not have been in the past. This most certainly will not go over smoothly with everyone. However, by doing this we learn that what we thought was a relationship was more of a one-way street where you complied to make them happy. Opening this box may be scary, and possibly painful, but it’s better than not knowing at all. As Christ said in Matthew 7:26-27 “But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” Don’t build your spiritual life or your relationships on sand.
Myth 4: “If I Set Boundaries, I Will Hurt Others”
“For we are each responsible for our own conduct.” – Galatians 6:5 (NLT)
The author of the chapter does a great job encapsulating this myth in a few sentences while explaining it. He said “The problem is that sometimes you see boundaries as an offensive weapon. Nothing could be further from the truth. Boundaries are a defensive tool.” When we begin enforcing the boundaries that are critical to us with people who are used to us having no boundaries it will cause friction. We cannot allow this to cause us to open up and comply with them however. As the Bible calls us all to be responsible for ourselves (see verse above), the individual who you believe you are hurting must find another way to have their needs met. Emptying your well of water to fill someone else’s is not a sustainable way to live. By surrounding ourselves with others whos spiritual and emotional wells are full, we don’t risk draining any one person dry by always relying on them for support.