Boundaries Book Study: Session Two

week twoHere we are at week two of our book study! I hope you are enjoying things so far. Golly day this book has lots of food for thought!

This past week we should have all read Chapters Three and Four. And, as you can see from the picture, there was a lot of underlining and exclamation point-ing going on in my book. Because of that, I’ve decided to tackle this week with my Five Faves approach, noting the top five points/ideas/foods for thought I gleaned this week. And there were more than five, but I’ve got to set some boundaries for myself (I’m learning already!).

1. Setting boundaries with our kids is important — not just from a discipline perspective but for their own protection. And not just because we want to teach them how to “behave.” Boundaries protect our kids, protect us, because with boundaries a person learns to verbalize when they are being hurt or mistreated. The story of the boy who was bullied by his sisters is such an excellent example — he was treated unfairly, but was taught to just take what came his way. Children have to learn to say no, in the right way, as a form of self-protection.

If we train our children to never voice their opinion, there is a risk of unhealthy compliance that will stay with a person throughout his life. And as a result of that, voicing opinions, having a preference, might become something not worth having, with someone being afraid to stand up for what she wants out of fear of losing affection or friendship. This is not a healthy way to live!

2. “God has no interest in violating our boundaries so that he can relate to us. He understands that this would cause injuries of trust. It is our responsibility to open up to him in need and repentance.” This is such a key concept not only in our ability to establish healthy boundaries in our life, but simply in understanding God’s love for us. What freedom we have in Jesus, look at all the freedom he offers us! And the more we embrace and live in that freedom, the more freedom we will surely have in our own lives. God is not a dictator, and when I look to him to model my life, I see a) the healthy boundaries I need to set for myself and b) the boundaries I pray Paul and I will help our children establish for themselves.

3. The more we examine who we are and what makes us tick, the more victory we will have in establishing these healthy boundaries. “Search me O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Ps. 139:23-24)”

My prayer, as I read this chapter, was that God will continue to offer his wisdom to each one of us, not so that we can obsess about our problems or hurts in our past, but that we can use good knowledge to move forward and have more freedom in Him.

4. The importance of having a trusted network of close friends becomes so evident in talking about boundaries. Not just to have people you are comfortable being Yourself with — people you can easily tell yes or no and be honest with your limitations. But also to gain that sense of unconditional love, to help in dealing with other people. “I can risk being honest about my feelings or my need to say no in this situation because I know I am loved outside of my ability simply to do what someone asks me to do…” Knowing you are loved, not necessarily by everyone but by those who matter to you, gives that sense of belonging and security that we all need in order to be confident in who we are and in where our boundaries begin and end.

5. FINALLY, parenting! So much to think about here. So many thoughts on training children and offering them security without being a dictator. But I need to tell you…this was SO FREEING for me to read. Because I do struggle, being the mom of so many boys, with my desires to have children who just stinking do what I say ALL OF THE TIME. And this is not the case with my children — and lo it is a good thing! Now I’m not saying I will be celebrating disobdience, but I need to push through my desires for Robo-babies, children who just live to please me and do every thing perfect all of the time. This book is helping me see how good and healthy it is to allow my children to learn boundaries by pushing up against them, by having some failures and by not being perfect in every way.

“Children who can appropriately express anger are children who will understand, later in life, when someone is trying to control or hurt them.” AND ALSO: “Good parents have fun with toddlers who jump on the bed.”

Please share your thoughts! And thanks for reading along with me. xo

Boundaries Book Study: Session One

boundaries_fron_prooftWelcome to our first week of Book Club, where we will discuss the first two chapters of Boundaries. I’ll share my thoughts, and then please add yours!

Chapter One is basically the in-action example of what it looks like to live without Boundaries. Poor Sherrie, I could feel her pain. While I didn’t necessarily identify with every aspect of her exhausting, over-taxed existence, there were certainly paragraphs that had me nodding in conviction. Yes, yes! I see those tendencies in myself!

My takeaway from the first chapter is: I can’t wait to see how Sherrie gets her life in order. And I found myself very excited and hopeful about what this book will offer. As chapter one says, “we need to set mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual boundaries for our lives to help us distinguish what is our responsibility and what isn’t.”

And I appreciate how well the author points out that part of the problem here is not when a person is trying to be rude or self-centered; it’s a false responsibility we as Christians put on ourselves to be kind or generous or flexible in a way that we really can’t afford to be. As fictional Sherrie shows us: “In her desire to do the right thing, or to avoid conflict, she ends up taking on problems that God never intended her to take on…”

Chapter Two examines what a boundary actually is, what a boundary looks like and what falls within those boundaries. At the heart of this chapter is the explanation that boundaries are not walls — they are designed to keep the good in and keep the bad out. I love this — having boundaries isn’t about closing yourself off from the rest of the world. This isn’t about being an island to protect yourself from being hurt or “used.” And in fact, as the chapter points out, we need others to help us as we navigate what our boundaries are. “Creating boundaries always involves a support network.”

There are good examples of what different kinds of boundaries look like, explaining that a boundary helps you differentiate you from someone else, where you begin and end.

One key part of this chapter for me (among the many phrases I underlined) was the idea that many people have been taught “by their church or family that boundaries are unbiblical, mean or selfish.” I was reflecting on this and couldn’t decide if it was anything I’ve ever been “taught” but certainly something I’m working to find balance in. I think it’s very easy to get caught up in a discernment process of saying yes or operating in a way that makes us uncomfortable because we want to be “loving.” But boundaries — understanding where we begin and end — is about being willing to act on the feelings/discernment of knowing our limits. I think another big challenge, area of misdirected kindness, is putting up with some relationships that are painful because of a “can do all things in Christ” attitude, as in Jesus will give me the grace to deal with difficult people. And of course we can to a degree, but thank you God for personal freedom and using the brain God has given us. Which can sometimes be hard to do. Part of having boundaries is being able to identify those situations that rob us of our peace, and finding how we can realistically relate to difficult people.

Now a word about feelings…I kind of think of feelings as a bad thing (at times). As in, I don’t want to make decisions based purely on feelings, and don’t want to allow my feelings to dictate my outlook on life. I appreciate what Chapter Two has to say about feelings — lots to think about there.

There are a lot of “things” going on within our boundaries and it’s our responsibility to learn to deal with the many facets of being “Me” — and let other people deal with theirs. What a relief! Just the knowledge that the only person I can control is myself, and while I can’t fix other people, I have the freedom to allow my boundaries to protect me and guide me along the way.

Personally, it’s all such a relief to realize I have the freedom and personal power to acknowledge the limits I feel — whether in my schedule or relationships or expectations from others — and to make decisions based on that.

What about you?

Boundaries Book Study

boundaries_fron_prooftAre you ready to start the study! Only a few more days…I’m excited!

Let’s go over a few logistics, how I’m planning to work this (with the understanding that everything is subject to change if we discover a better method once we get started).

My plan is to cover two chapters of our book every week, with the discussion beginning Monday morning. Which means this Monday, we should all be ready to discuss Chapters One and Two. Of course the wonderful thing about our book club is that if you show up late, no one will know! So I will post my thoughts early Monday and you feel free to join in/comment anytime during the week. At the end of the week, I’ll close those comments and we will begin a new discussion Monday morning.

I think everyone will be able to comment as well comment on other comments. If we get a limit to comments on comments we might have to start a new thread, but we can deal with that if it becomes a problem.

Also, one club member told me she is doing the audio version of the book, which she was able to download for free. Audible.com offers a free one month trial to new users, so the first book will be free! Thanks Carrie for the tip!

Please let me know if you have any questions, or anything to add. I’m so excited — many thanks to everyone who has agreed to read. Let’s do it!