YOU ASKED FOR IT - PART 2
Welcome to our new series where we asked you to submit your questions and topics that you would like us to answer or address. One of the most repeated themes in the questions that have been asked is to do with boundaries.
When we recognise that our boundaries have been violated or ignored we are then faced with several options
- To build a fortress of protection around ourselves so that we will never be hurt again
- Allow people free run through our lives to keep other people happy
- To build boundaries into our lives that control the way people have access to our treasure.
The problem is that the first two options come almost instinctively to us. Depending upon our circumstances or personality we either build huge walls fortifying ourselves from the world, never letting anyone close to us, keeping out the bad but also unfortunately keeping out the good, or we allow the bad to remain so that we can occasionally experience the good.
We need to realise that boundaries are not fortresses they are walls with gates that let the good in and keep the bad out.
They are boundaries that will give others clear signals about the rules of relationship with us.
How do you know if you are building a fortress?
- You will feel lonely and isolated,
- Others will struggle to get to know you,
- You will be misunderstood in relationships because people don’t have enough information to make good judgements about you.
- You will feel like people don’t care about you or really see who you are .
If you use the walls to hide who you are on the inside, if you struggle to have honesty in your relationships with others then you are at risk of being a fortress builder.
The Apostle Paul was having this problem with the Corinthian church.2 Corinthians 6:11 Oh, dear Corinthian friends! We have spoken honestly with you. Our hearts are open to you. 12If there is a problem between us, it is not because of a lack of love on our part, but because you have withheld your love from us. 13I am talking now as I would to my own children. Open your hearts to us!”
Last week I spoke about 2 laws that govern the way we function on an emotional level.
These are the laws that we need to use as guidelines, for what is “normal” when we are setting boundaries. If you have a boundary problem it will be one of these laws that has been ignored or broken.
THE LAW OF SOWING AND REAPINGGalatians 6:11 (NLT) “Don’t be misled. Remember that you can’t ignore God and get away with it. You will always reap what you sow!”
That means if we sow irresponsible behaviour, then we will reap pain and the consequences of that behaviour. If someone else sows irresponsible behaviour then they too should reap what THEY have sown. This law was set up to stop us from destroying ourselves it was set up so that we would learn and grow from our mistakes to become responsible people. When boundary problems exist we interfere with this law that God has set in place, by refusing to own the consequences of our behaviour or taking the consequences for someone elses bad behaviour ourselves in an effort to “help them".
THE LAW OF TO AND FOR
This brings us to the next law of which says that we are responsible TO others not FOR others. Those parents are responsible to their son to be the best parents they can be for him, but they must make him responsible FOR his own choices and actions.Galatians 6:4-5 “Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.”Galatians 6:2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
THE LAW OF THE PENDULUM
If you are human you will struggle with a little word called balance. Our pendulum either gets stuck on pleasing others, or on protecting ourselves.
When our pendulum gets stuck over here (pleasing others) we will do everything in our power to please other people, including neglecting our own needs, not setting boundaries in case we lose their love. OR we get stuck trying to protect ourselves so we build up fortress like walls to take care of ourselves and then rob others of relational intimacy with us and rob ourselves of the good others have to offer while we are focussed on keeping the bad out!
If our pendulum is stuck at either end we will end up messing with our ability to establish healthy relationships.
We need to recognise where we are stuck, realize that Both of these extremes are selfish because the motivation behind both is the meeting of our own needs. Then make a decision to allow something other than our own needs to be the magnetic pull for our pendulum.
Jesus gives us the simple answer in the Bible.Matthew 22:35-40 (NIV)One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself. 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
- Love God
- Love others as yourself
While we are hanging onto the hope of what in some cases can never be we are also holding onto a lot of hurt and garbage that is accumulating in our lives and it is this that stops us from being free to set healthy boundaries.
Another powerful key to forgiving is to recognise that you too have been forgiven. It’s easier to extend forgiveness when you recognise that you yourself need and have been extended forgiveness
Ephesians 4:31-32 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
When you love God, you will focus on pleasing him first, and then self-love and love for others will find their correct place in your life.
SO I KNOW I HAVE A PROBLEM…..
Okay so maybe you have realised over these last two weeks that you have some boundary issues in your life? That is the first step towards healing! Where do you go from here?
HOW CAN I FIX IT?
1. Change your roots
It’s the symptoms of our boundary problems that are the things that we notice the most, so these are the things we tend to concentrate on when we are trying to fix the problem. But like any sickness if we just treat the symptoms it produces then they will constantly re-occur unless we deal with the thing that is causing the symptoms.
It is frightening to begin to plug the depths of our need, when we come to the realisation that we are broken people without the ability to fix ourselves
It is even scarier when we realise that those we have looked to, to fix us are no more capable of doing that than we are.
The only way to deal with the root of a problem is to regraft the plant onto another root source. If the plant is weak and producing poor fruit then it is cut off and grafted onto a strong root source so that it will improve the quality of it’s fruit.
Why are we sick? The Bible says it is because we are separated from the source of life, God. When we are separated from Him, the roots that we have, have produced the fruit of broken relationships, anger fear, pain, guilt, depression, and confusion as to what is ‘normal.’
John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
We need to be connected to God, grafted into Him, so that His life source will produce good fruit in our lives. We can try hard ourselves to do the right thing to meet others needs, to have our needs met but in the end we are only human. Apart from God, the Bible says we can do nothing, nothing that is balanced and objective, without the pull of past dysfunction. (Going to give people an opportunity to do this at the end of my message today)
2. Work out what we have power to fix
A lot of our energy goes on trying to change the people around us and blaming them for the way we act. But if we need to realise that our power boundary is our skin. In other words we only really have the power to change the things that are INSIDE our skin, and we are powerless to change the things that are outside our skin. We need to realise that we can’t change anyone else but we do have the power to change ourselves into the person I should be.Phillipians 2:12-13 “Therefore, my dear friends,………—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
It is God and us working together that will bring change.
And we need to understand that the dynamic of change in us will cause pressure on those around us who have been part of or have got comfortable with our boundary problems, and still want us to behave the way we used to in relationship with them.
3. Own the bad fruit
The first thing we do when there is a problem is to look for someone to blame. We learn this as kids. Mum comes in and she says, “Who did this?” The first thing we do is point the finger. It was the first thing Adam did in the garden. “It was the woman you gave me, she made me do it”
The problem you have, might not be your fault but it is your responsibility.
Let me explain. If a drunk driver were to hit you as you were driving along in your car. As a result of the accident you are left by the side of the road, with two broken legs. Whose fault would it be? The drunk driver’s of course. But he’s probably not going to come back and fix your legs, even if he did he wouldn’t be of any use to you!
Now, you can lie in your hospital bed and blame that person, curse and shout and say that life is not fair but the only way you are going to recover is to go to the physio, start moving those muscles, and building up strength back into your legs.
In the same way, the things that have happened to you in the past may not have been your fault but now as an adult you have to take responsibility for your healing and recovery. It’s realising that although we may not be to blame for the roots, we have to own the fruit that this has produced. We need to own the fruit of poor boundary setting in our lives, the depression, relational conflict, anger, desire to control, whatever it might be and decide to fix it. One of the things that will help us to begin this process will be to….
4. Disconnect from the past through forgiveness
Forgiveness is a letting go. It doesn’t just involve words and feelings; it is the action of letting go.
We have to let our pain go or it will end up controlling our whole lives. All we will be able to think and talk about is our pain.
The key to getting rid of it, to disconnect from the past, is forgiveness
If we have been hurt or disappointed by someone and we haven’t forgiven them, it is like we are holding hands with that person deep in our soul. The unforgiveness we hold on to maintains the relationship with the person that has caused us pain. Have you ever met someone who seems to find themselves in the same kind of hurtful relationships over and over again? That is because they haven’t found freedom in forgiveness, the pain is constantly with them, so they find someone else to replay that pain with.
The forgiveness process is our only ticket to freedom, because we let go of our relational ties to those who have hurt us. The reason we hold on to these ties is that we want something from these people. We may be longing for their love, looking for an apology or acknowledgment of wrong on their part, or seeking retribution or compensation for the harm that they have done. Many of us feel that these people owe us something.
It is for this reason that the forgiveness process involves grief, we are losing the hope of ever getting even, or the hope of getting the love from that person that we desire. It is a sad thing to realise that Mum or Dad, our ex, a friend or a business partner may never love us the way we want them to, or to realise that we can’t FIX the situation. We need to let this expectation go, cry over it. The Bible says “Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted”.
CONTINUING NEXT SUNDAY
YOU ASKED FOR IT
Coming up at Influencers...