Following up on our last post, Common Boundary Myths – Part 1, we’ll continue through the remaining 4 myths Cloud & Townsend talks about in Chapter 6. As a reminder, what we’re looking at here in this chapter are beliefs that seem to be true about boundaries in our relationships, however, they’re incorrect (or not the complete picture).
Myth 5: “Boundaries Mean That I Am Angry”
“Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables.” – John 2:15 (NLT)
Just as an old mine shaft may be filled with dynamite long forgotten, when we first set our boundaries we realize that there is A LOT of built up anger in the past. This dynamite (our anger) needs to be unearthed and dealt with. The dynamite (our anger) needs to be either safely defused (let go) or detonated (felt through) so it can’t hurt us or anyone else in the future. This step is absolutely necessary to deal with old, past anger and rage. After the initial boundaries are set, the surge of anger will lessen because our “no” is now working to prevent more dynamite being stored away. As we get more comfortable exercising our biblical boundaries, the anger in our life will go down drastically. We respond not by seeking revenge, but rather setting a limit and preventing the anger.
Myth 6: “When Others Set Boundaries, It Injures Me”
“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.” – Matthew 7:12 (NLT)
If you want others to respect your boundaries, you need to be able to respect theirs. The reasons given by the authors for being injured by other’s boundaries stems from an emptiness… a hole in the heart of a person. By placing other’s in this hole rather than God, we will constantly let down and left feeling abandoned or violated. Whether we’ve been hurt by others with inappropriate boundaries, hurting other’s as a result of prior pain, substituting another person for God and expecting them to always be available to you or an inability to take responsibility for your own life because other’s are expected to. All of these reasons lead to believing that when other people set boundaries, it hurts you. It’s all, however, a matter of perspective that needs to be adjusted after setting our own healthy boundaries.
Myth 7: “Boundaries Cause Feelings of Guilt”
“Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” – Colossians 2:7 (NLT)
“Quid pro quo” is the Latin phrase that means “this for that” and is a nearly perfect illustration of the guilty feelings associated with setting boundaries by some. There is an underlying message in the “gift” being given that we owe that individual something back. This, in fact, is not a gift. When nothing is expected back, but gratitude is appreciated that is when it’s a gift. There are individuals who only give to receive something in return. These individuals should be avoided in regards to an unwanted exchange of obligation and guilt. Their gift is a loan in disguise.
Myth 8: “Boundaries Are Permanent, and I’m Afraid of Burning My Bridges”
“When God saw what they had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened.” – Jonah 3:10 (NLT)
Last Spring, we adopted a husky-border collie mix and we named him Maverick. In searching for some wisdom on how to best train the little guy we ran across a lot of good information. One source, however, told us several times that our dog gets to choose what he’s comfortable with, not us. In essence, Maverick got to set the boundaries of how much or how little we got to pet him. At first, we could barely pet him without him getting a bit defensive. As he’s gotten older, he tolerates a lot more petting than he used to. His boundary has changed with us now that he knows we’re not going to hurt him. Just like our relationship with Maverick, when our other relationships mature the boundaries we have set with others will adapt as the need arises.