“I thought you were a “good” Christian. You should always forgive and forget.” These words came out of every abusive ex-spouse and person in my life. These words are the favorite manipulation of abusers, especially if they claim to be Christians. These words violate healthy boundaries!
Without Healthy Boundaries in Christ, You Can be Abused
When you grow up without learning what healthy boundaries are and how to draw them, you are vulnerable to become abused in your relationships. For over forty years, I didn’t know about boundaries. I wasn’t taught that I had the responsibility and right to limit who had access to my heart and that I could say no to how people talked to me and treated me.
I thought being a “good Christian” required me to let people use, hurt, and abuse me. I thought I had to prove I was a “good Christian” by turning the other cheek, by pretending nothing happened, and by letting them remain in my life and continue to abuse me. I didn’t know God’s truth about Christ’s love, forgiveness, repentance, trust, and reconciliation, which uncovers these lies. Without having the truth and healthy role models who lived within healthy boundaries, I didn’t know where I ended, and others began.
What Are Boundaries?
The best book on boundaries I have read, and I continually recommend, is Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life. It is written by two Christian psychologists, Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. They explain boundaries.
“Boundaries define us. They define what is me and what is not me. A boundary shows me where I end, and someone else begins, leading me to a sense of ownership. Knowing what I am to own and take responsibility for gives me freedom. If I know where my yard begins and ends, I am free to do with it what I like. Taking responsibility for my life opens up many different options. However, if I do not, “own” my life, my choices and options become very limited.”
Living in unawareness of my boundaries left me believing I was responsible for making everyone happy and okay. I thought I was responsible for anything that went wrong. My enslaved, misguided responsibility mindset and emotions were a heavy unquenchable burden that almost took me out. But God’s truth, the love of Christ, and his revelations freed me from my imprisoned mind. They opened my blinded eyes and set me on Christ’s path of healing love and freedom by drawing healthy boundaries.
In Christ’s exceptional love design, I learned that drawing healthy Christ-centered boundaries was my right and responsibility. Christ’s boundaries are founded in:
- God’s two greatest commandments;
- The freedom we have in Christ, defined in the Bible;
- On equal respect for others and yourself;
- Taking responsibility for your own thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, words, actions, and consequences.
Boundaries are created in “you” statements, not as control, or an attack, or a punishment. However, the other person will probably see the boundary as an attack on them. For example: When your spouse is disrespectful or degrading, you can draw a boundary in love for yourself. You can calmly say, “I will be happy to talk with you when you can speak respectfully to me. Until then, I will be in my office. Let me know when you want to talk respectfully.”
After this statement, walk out. Don’t be surprised when your disrespectful spouse reacts with blame, various types of accusations, and even yelling. Their tantrum response is not your choice, and it doesn’t make you wrong, just uncomfortable. They are responding to you changing your unhealthy “normal” relationship dance. If you are in an abusive relationship or marriage, seek the guidance of an experienced abuse counselor BEFORE you implement any boundaries and make sure you have a safe plan in place.
Don’t Fall into the Trap of Their Lies
I know how easy it is to allow the devil to convince you that a ‘“good Christian’” should be understanding, forgiving, and always give into people or give them “one more” chance. It is especially hard when the person being disrespectful or trespassing on your boundaries uses the phrase, “I thought you were a good Christian or you’re not being a good Christian.”
Christians must not confuse forgiveness or being understanding with accepting excuses for disrespectful, sinful, or abusive behavior. It’s easy to fall into this trap when you feel love-starved, and the person plays on your empathy with excuses, guilt, or blame. In fact, excuses and blame reveal their choice to avoid owning their feelings, words, choices, actions, consequences, and lack of godly repentance.
Nowhere in scripture are we instructed to continually allow other people to act disrespectfully to us. We are not told to be someone’s vent for anger, meanness, bullying, or abuse. We are called to be wise and to look for wolves disguised as sheep. We are to be discerning and to take care of ourselves because we are the temple of God.
Being Healthy Requires Healthy Boundaries
To remain healthy, we must live in God’s context of his definition of healthy love and boundaries, which include responsibility, respect, and accountability. In an unhealthy or toxic relationship, you won’t have respect, honor, and responsibility. You will have to draw healthy boundaries to ensure you are taking the best care of Christ’s temple, including your heart and spirit in Christ’s love.
The choice to be healthy and to love yourself AS you love others in a healthy way is a life-long process. Whether the other person chooses to become healthy is their choice. They are not your job or responsibility to fix. You must stay focused on living in Christ’s healthy love design and pray for them as you grow.
It won’t be easy, but living for Jesus and loving like Jesus is not about our ease and comfort. Loving like Jesus is about choosing healthy thoughts, words, attitudes, and actions as we walk hand in hand with him every day. It’s vital to draw Christ-centered boundaries and to respect the boundaries of others to have healthy relationships.
Only you can draw your own boundaries to guard your heart, mind, soul, and life. Only you can state when your boundaries have been crossed and make the necessary changes. Only you have control over yourself through your relationship with Jesus.
Let Jesus help you draw healthy boundaries and live abundantly in his exceptional love design. He will empower you to respect and honor yourself and others. And you can enjoy living in healthy, loving relationships full of Christ’s divine love.
To ensure you are living in healthy boundaries, know and proclaim your Christ identity by downloading these FREE Empowering Proclamations now!