“Turn the other cheek, forgive everyone, and pretend nothing happened; no matter how badly you are treated.” I believed this was the path of being a good Christian. I was deceived, and so are many other disciples of Christ as well as nonbelievers.
Being a Christ follower or Christian doesn’t mean you are supposed to be a doormat. Jesus never allowed anyone to abuse him until he gave himself over to be crucified for our sins. So how did my understanding get so messed up? The answer is, you can only do what you know.
Formation of Your Boundaries
Your formation of boundaries begins at an early age from your messages, painful love and relationship experiences, and beliefs. If you are like me, and you have struggled to feel safe, loved, valued, like you belong, and you have a purpose, you will have weak or nonexistent boundaries. I didn’t know what a boundary was until I was in my mid-thirties.
I first learned about boundaries during a counseling session at an alcohol treatment center my ex-husband attended. Even though I had been a Christian since the age of seven, I knew nothing about healthy boundaries. I was also unaware that I was operating from my imperfect love design, I didn’t know God’s word of truth or His power, and I didn’t know who I was in-Christ.
Cost of Unhealthy Boundaries
My unawareness left me unprepared, unprotected, and vulnerable to domestic abuse. Because I could only do what I knew, I felt trapped. Without understanding how to draw healthy boundaries, I believed that I was responsible for making everyone happy and okay. I didn’t know that I had the right and responsibility to limit who had access to my heart or that I could stop someone from disrespecting or abusing me. I didn’t know where I ended, and others began.
My mindset and emotions led me to try to take responsibility for other people’s bad choices and disrespectful and abusive behaviors. In this mindset, everything was my fault, which is a lie from the devil himself. Living in the lies of the devil and other imperfect people led me to the darkest places in my mind, heart, and life.
There were times when the enemies lies almost took me out. However, with my new knowledge, I felt a spark of hope and curiosity being lit in my spirit. I started to study God’s word. I found His truth and the love of Christ, which empowered me to break free.
Empowerment of Healthy Boundaries
God helped me understand healthy boundaries as I studied the life of Jesus after reading the book Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life, by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. I began to see four key aspects of boundaries that were corrupt in my understanding: God’s two greatest commandments, freedom, responsibility, and respect. Through His knowledge and revelation, I realized that I never thought I had the right or the power to choose, to make limits, to protect myself, or to say no.
If you don’t have God’s word in your mind and heart, or you don’t know your identity in Jesus, you will be deceived by your past life experiences. Seek God’s truth with your whole heart. Don’t believe the disrespectful messages or lies from your youth. Don’t believe clichés of Christian phrases and misquoted or twisted scriptures used out of context. Test the good, perfect, and loving word and will of God.
“but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 ESV
God Blessed and Empowered Us with Boundaries
God drew boundaries for Adam and Eve so they could respect and live in His righteous love and protection. Jesus gave his life for us so we could live in his boundary of exceptional love, grace, and power as we dwell with him. Living in God’s word, commandments, and the fruits of the Holy Spirit helps you draw healthy boundaries to protect yourself and Christ’s spirit living in you. Never forget God’s word.
Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 1 Corinthians 3:16 NIV
As you live in a progressive personal relationship with Jesus every day, you will experience living in his exceptional love. You will be empowered to draw and maintain healthy boundaries. When you are healthier, your relationships will be healthier.
Even if you have relationships with a difficult person, like a family member, you will be able to draw the boundary limits without allowing yourself, and Christ in you, to be disrespected, dishonored, or abused. Christ’s exceptional love design NEVER approves of any type of abuse in any relationship. God doesn’t expect or require you to let yourself be abused by a friend, sibling, child, parent, boss, a person of authority or confidentiality (a pastor, counselor, policeman), a stranger, or a spouse.
Only you can draw healthy boundaries in Christ to guard your heart, mind, emotions, soul, and life. Only you can state when your boundaries have been crossed and draw a new boundary or end the unhealthy or toxic relationship. Only you are in charge of the boundaries in your life. Choose them wisely in the exceptional love of Jesus and the truth of God’s word, and you will live in healthy relationships.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10 ESV
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