Friday, November 19, 2010

Boundaries and Borders

I've been thinking a lot about boundaries and borders this week. Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend wrote
Boundaries: When to Say Yes, When to Say No, To Take Control of Your Life. It's obvious Christians often confuse the lines when it comes to what we allow to happen in our lives. We're supposed to live yielded lives with a focus of God and others before self. When does that yieldedness turn into a doormat? The Bible says we are to love others as we love ourselves, so are there times when our love for self requires us to say "no" to prevent us from burn-out? We are supposed to be willing to "go the extra mile" for others. What happens when they want TWO miles? What happens when we are feeling spent and taken advantage of? If we go the extra miles do we wear out our soles? And our souls? Three issues came to the surface just yesterday to cause me to evaluate this delicate balance even further.
  • What do I owe my clients as far as my time? When is it okay to be unavailable because it's family time and not work time? When is it time to tell them "poor planning on your part does not necessitate an emergency on mine"?
  • When someone wants a piece of me that is not theirs to take, how blunt do I have to become before they comprehend they have asked too much of me? Some say I'm "too nice" and because of that I encourage others to use me. I'm trying to balance "serving-it-forward" with saying "no" to create appropriate boundaries. Not because it's all about me but because I won't have any "me" to help others if I'm no longer effective. I guess it's a lot like having to put the oxygen mask on myself before I help others place their own oxygen masks (taken from a flight attendant spiel.)
  • When is it time to seek legal counsel to represent my best interests? Health insurance won't pay claims related to an injury—subrogating responsibility to the hotel that was negligent. The hotel insurance will not assume liability, piling on more paperwork and using intimidation tactics to bury me in details so I'll give up. Medical providers are sending notes saying "pay or else." I do not like working with attorneys, to be frank, because my past experience has proven they ramp up the hours and end up being the only one getting anything from a lawsuit. But I also know we have zero monies to pay these medical bills. I'm praying I can find an attorney who will take my case for a percentage of the win, rather than a retainer. I can't believe I'm at the point of needing to seek counsel. I would rather be Mrs. Nice Gal.
I want to always be available for what God has me to do. Serving Him. Serving others. I don't want to become hardened by circumstances and jaded by users. I'm praying I continue to learn how to create godly boundaries, only excluding from my life what God leads me to exclude, and letting in all the other stuff, even if it takes a big chunk of me in the process. Not a doormat, but a door-tender.

What have you learned about setting boundaries? Share your tips and your dilemmas here. Maybe we can help each other along on this journey!

1 comment:

Karen Jordan said...

I still struggle with setting boundaries, too. But I'm in agreement with your statement about "godly boundaries." As I remember to seek God first BEFORE I make new commitments, I'm finding my boundaries much easier to define.