By Guest Author Brittany M. White
[A perspective on creating boundaries.]
“I think,” she paused, “in the new year I’m going to create better boundaries.”
She was a high school student I was walking alongside in the church and the goal was nothing out of the ordinary for the self-care language our culture encourages. Honestly, had it not been for the years of late-night conversations and navigating a post-pandemic world, I would have smiled and requested it right then in prayer. But the atmosphere has changed a bit … and I knew her fears.
“Let’s say your dream boundaries are in place,” I began. “Describe to me what’s at the center. What are you creating limits around and protecting?” I asked.
She told me she wants to protect her heart and her time. She wants to control the things she can control. She doesn’t want to feel bad or spend energy in uncomfortable situations. She painted a perfect picture, like that of a tailored social media feed, where everything she interacts with brings her happiness, peace, and pleasure.
I told her a healthy heart, intentional time, peace, and joy are all things to want for her and they are good things to strive for and ask of the Lord. I then proposed she remove herself from the center and replace it with the Gospel and asked her how the message of Jesus would correspond with her boundaries.
“Oh,” she said.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.“John 1:1-5
Centered Around Me
On the outside, my young friend had a good desire for health and protection, but on the inside, at its center, it was driven by fear of rejection, unbelief, and disappointment. When we place our fears at the center of our boundaries we are allowing what we think will help us to instead isolate and consume us. We fool ourselves into believing that being a functional member of society, and those we interact with, can be modified like our Instagram accounts. We are then let down by the reality that sin and the brokenness of the world can break into every boundary we create, driving us further into our fears. Rejection stirs unforgiveness and bitterness, unbelief cultivates distrust and skepticism, and disappointment fuels hopelessness.
“God just doesn’t throw a life preserver to a drowning person. He goes to the bottom of the sea, and pulls a corpse from the bottom of the sea, takes him up on the bank, breathes into him the breath of life and makes him alive.”R.C. Sproul
Friend, Jesus was not born in that manager to coexist alongside what we believe should be the center of our boundaries. He’s not here to help out when He can or when we think we need Him. He came to be the center, the Light, the who, what, where, when, and why of all we say and do. The beginning and end, the cause and effect. He doesn’t want to just comfort us when we’re in pain. He wants to purpose our pain. He wants to give reason to everything we do in life. Everywhere we go, and the words we say, He wants His grace and truth to shine.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.John 1:14
Centered Around Jesus
Whether it’s physical, emotional, mental, material, or time boundaries, the grace and the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ can illuminate the center of who we are and transform us (mind, soul, strength) for His glory. We discover in knowing His Word, the very Word that became flesh, that He has always been the Gatekeeper to our hearts, the Messenger to a stranger, and the Medicine to a hurting family member or friend. By studying who He is, we learn who we are and can live according to His will. Submitting daily to His way, truth, and life helps us realize bit by bit that each revelation we find in ourselves pales in comparison to who God is and the power He has over our lives.
What would happen if instead of planting our identities and boundaries within our Myers Brigg, let’s say ENFP (me), we rested in YHWH (Yahweh) and His ‘personality’ (His character attributes)? What if we paused on scouring through the 5 Love Languages, and we took a step back and focused on loving God completely according to Mark 12:30-31? And for our motives? Let’s say we take this Enneagram 8 and make it an infinite ∞ motivation to love unconditionally. How different would my life be if I made choices to interact with others, truly knowing in my heart, that Jesus meets me where I’m at? That He calls me to deny myself and follow Him, has overcome the trouble of the world, and that accepting Him as my Savior gives me a sound mind to act and react, the power to move in His name, and the ability to love myself correctly and others compassionately? What do boundaries look like according to that knowledge?
Christ says “Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. I don’t want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked – the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.”C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Create boundaries. Know your standards, limitations, and need for the King of Kings. You are fearfully and wonderfully made and through faith and reason God gives us the conviction and discernment to keep Him first before putting ourselves or others at the beginning. In her book, The Envy of Eve, Melissa B. Kruger writes, “As we sacrifice our own lives to give to others, we should expect to feel worn out, tired, and spent. The call of the Gospel is not one of self-protection, but of self-denial.” Place the Gospel at the center and when making boundaries ask yourself if you’re allowing dualism to keep His hand from every part of your life (think life preserver in one area vs all-encompassing resurrection). Allow His perfect love to cast out fear. Operate under the full knowledge that we are children of God, redeemed in every way by His grace and truth, and the work relationships, the time in school, and the material and mental stresses will all be ushered into His presence, held and sanctified by the sovereign Light of men.