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Could Boundaries Actually Be the Best Way of Loving People?

I don’t know about you, but I always thought of boundaries as “selfish” or “harsh.” But what if boundaries are actually a way of loving people well?

Bear with me here, what if the word “boundaries” is actually synonymous with “clarity” and “freedom?”

Boundaries are the best way of defining:

  • who you are and who you are not
  • where you end and others start
  • what you’re willing to do and what you’re not

A world without boundaries is one of constant confusion. It means I don’t know what you are expecting from me or when it’s okay for me to ask for your time. I don’t know if I’m asking too much and if I’m draining you of all your resources. I don’t know if coming to my event is going to force you to drop the ball in other areas of your life.

However, clear boundaries mean I know that you would not say yes to anything that did not work for your schedule or for your energy resources. I can be free of guilt in asking for a favor. I can know that you won’t be resenting me if you have agreed to spend time with me. I know that if you don’t have the capacity to say “yes,” you would say “no.”

Clear boundaries look like saying “no” sometimes so that your “yes” actually means something.

I think we are wired to think this is selfish because we want to be cheerful givers of our time and our resources. But maybe we can’t be cheerful givers if we are giving too much of ourselves in too many areas. I can be a cheerful giver if I have limited the amount of things or people that I give my time to. Unfortunately, we do not have unlimited time or energy supply; we have to safeguard what we do have to be there for the people and ministries that really matter to us.

Brené Brown often says, “Choose discomfort over resentment.” Ten seconds of discomfort over saying, “no” can save us from hours or more of resentment. An added bonus is that we gain very helpful information from how people respond to us when we put up boundaries. Those who want the best for us will champion our efforts to care for ourselves well.

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