To set boundaries in relationships is to define and communicate what you are willing to allow into your life, what behaviors you will accept from other people, and what you are not willing to tolerate. To know if you are setting a healthy boundary, vs being selfish….examine the motives you have. We all have a right to protect our minds, bodies, and spirits. Sometimes that may mean that we say no to another’s request. Sometimes that may mean that we communicate to others that we will not tolerate a harmful or abusive behavior. Always, it should mean that we make decisions based on what we think God wants our priorities to be, and not based on guilt or the pressure of people pleasing. Take some time to think about what type of boundary setter you may be:
There are 4 major types of boundary setters:
1. SOFT: This person doesn’t really have any boundaries. They are chameleons, people pleasers, or sometimes doormats. They want to be liked and accepted to the point that they do not stand up for their own rights. They will commit or obligate themselves out of guilt and fear of rejection. The priorities God wants them to have are not given top priority because they are too busy trying to keep everyone happy. They can easily become victims of manipulation.
2. SPONGY: This person is not consistent with boundary setting. This person is not sure what to let in and what to keep out. They are often confused about what priorities to have as a Christian and/or how to apply those priorities.
3. RIGID: This person has boundaries that are defensive forts – built like walls to keep everything out and there are no gates to let anything good in. This person shuts themselves off from others. Often this may be a protective response to abuse and trauma. This person misses out, however on the loving interactions God desires us to have with others.
4. FLEXIBLE: This person has a healthy awareness of the priorities God wants them to have. They have firm boundaries when they need to protect these priorities or keep out harmful interactions. They have gates in their boundaries, however, that welcome the positive interactions and experiences God wants them to enjoy in fellowship with others.
What about you? Are you soft, spongy, rigid, or flexible? If you realize that you need to make changes in your type of boundary setting – start with identifying what you think God would want you to set as priorities. What kinds of things might God want you to start protecting yourself from? Study the scriptures and pray to identify the things God might want you to let in vs keep out in your life.
And remember, sometimes even “good things” may not be what God wants us to focus on in our lives. We can’t be everything to everybody all the time. Pray about what God wants you to prioritize in your life. This may change in the future. Once you know that God is directing you, then it’s time to learn how to set those boundaries and apply them.
Prayer For You: May God speak to you as the clear voice of direction in the midst of so many competing voices and distractions. May God help you identify what your priorities need to be. May He prepare your heart to make changes if necessary in the type of boundary setter you are so that you can begin to enjoy the rewards of healthy boundary setting.
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