Entries in boundaries (5)
My life has gotten a bit more complicated the last two months… maybe challenging would be a better word. In November I was asked to take on the preaching responsibilities for my church for the next six months and I accepted. I agreed knowing that I would be pressed in with a packed schedule and many more responsibilities. Stress would increase… I determined as I went into this season that I needed to have some more rigid boundaries to help me navigate my responsibilities. With the help of my wife, here’s what I came up with:
- I need to lessen my professional schedule appropriately. This has never been easy for me to do, but it is mandated by the need for speaking preparation.
- Maintain a healthy exercise regimen. It’s necessary for me to continue to take time to work out and allow my stress to be dealt with naturally.
- Accountability to an objective mentor that will ask hard questions and give me a 30,000 foot perspective.
- Implement a tweaking process that will allow adjustments to help me adjust to factors not accounted for.
- A Sabbath rest that is non-negotiable. This consists of a day where I do no work and enjoy my family and commune with God.
These boundaries might appear simplistic, but they have helped so far and I would commend them to you as a template that might aid you in your own challenging schedule. Here’s to becoming healthier in 2013!
It is a constant struggle to muster up the energy to parent. Boundaries need to be stated, reinforced, restated, re-reinforced, and on and on it goes until you think you may keel over or have a stroke. Like I said, parenting is not for the faint of heart. It may be possible that some preemptive planning and work could make all of the difference for some children. We all have heard of time-outs and restrictions, but there is some work we could do to anticipate some behavior.
There seems to me to be a missing piece to disciplining and parenting that I have realized from sheer necessity. Both of my daughters are highly sensitive to their surroundings (Confession: Even a loud TV can send me over the edge, so I can’t blame their father on this one).
Maybe you have experienced the same thing. Children pick up stress, anxiety, tension, over-scheduling, a dirty house, noise, etc., and they are more prone to ACT OUT. For instance, when my husband and I are overly busy, they are more inclined to be grumpy and impatient. When the house is messy, they seem more easily distracted and lazy. I know these things are true for me, but as we mature, we find ways to cope with imperfect surroundings. But our children need our help to do their best!
So, here are a few suggestions. If your child has difficulty being in certain situations (loud concerts, crowded places, jam-packed days going from one place to another, cluttered room, etc.), assess if there is anything you can do to reduce the problem. Plan ahead and do errands during your lunch hour when they are at school so that you can give them more of your attention in the evenings. Or, do an experiment! If your kitchen is usually dirty when they do their homework, try keeping it de-cluttered and clean for 1 week and see if they take less time to complete their work. Have a conversation about it at the end of the week. Seek and find your child or teenager’s unique needs.
In situations that cannot be avoided, it is important to plan ahead. Just having conversations about stressors can relieve some anxiety for children. In the process, you are teaching them to be more aware internally and more proactive and assertive for things they need.
It is almost as if I can see the walls between some couples when they come in for the first session. I can actually feel not only the distance, but a self-protective, impenetrable barrier. The difficult thing is that walls have a purpose; they protect. They protect from disappointment, rejection, shame, conflict, and being ignored. We all have self-protective mechanisms that are activated when a threat is perceived. It is a natural, instinctual response…only it keeps us from fully loving and being loved.
Walls serve a purpose to reduce the pain that we feel from our spouse, yet walls and barriers perpetuate the lack of connection, expression of tenderness, feeling of love, and giving of oneself that is essential in healthy relationships.
At some point, it is important for couples to realize that the pain of maintaining the indestructible barrier hurts more than the vulnerability of no defenses. We have several choices when dealing with a wall in our marriage. First, we can keep it up, protect ourselves, and perhaps even make it stronger by distancing ourselves, giving less of ourselves, and accepting less of our partner’s love. Our second option is to take it down, brick by brick. This is done carefully over a long period of time. It is done through deliberately allowing more and more connection without the need to attack. Thirdly, we have the option to plow through the wall. This one is my favorite, and by far the scariest.
Couples usually come to counseling to be close again. To love and be loved. To connect, experience joy, and affirm the uniqueness and beauty of one another once again. So, as I say to some couples, “Do you want to plow through the wall? I will help you. I will run right beside you?” AND, more importantly, Jesus can break down the walls with you. Breaking through walls is one of the ways to participate in the redemptive story of God. Yes, it is scary, but remember this…
Jesus is a wall-breaking Savior, and he can give you the strength to break down the walls around you!
“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility….”
The summer months seem to be filled with family vacations with immediate and extended family. And, as much fun as they can be, they can also be stressful. The stress is usually an indicator that there is something "undone" in a relationship. If you are not in the place emotionally (or perhaps it may not be the right time to address the situation) a good solution is to walk away for a moment, collect your thoughts, and figure out what you need to do to take care of yourself until the time is right to address the issues. Sometimes you might need a third party to help sort it through. Objectivity is important in order to maintain and grow a relationship.
Don't let undone issues get in the way of good family time this summer. At some point, take the time to work them through.
I've had several conversations about boundaries this week, both in my personal and professional life. A friend expressed that she struggled with feeling selfish when she set boundaries, another that he felt bad when he "spoke up" and hurt someone's feelings. We avoid an uncomfortable conversation that may sting and eventually wind up losing an entire relationship. Many believe that in order to be unselfish and loving we have to say yes to everything; answer every phone call, meet every need (but our own) and never ask for what we need, especially if it will hurt someone else. The problem with this line of thinking is that it will kill a relationship. Think about it; instead of simply saying "no" to that person who asks a for quick favor, you begin to avoid them. You turn the other way at church or rush away from them before they can ask something of you. You're exhausted, over-extended and find yourself getting angry that they dared to ask you to help them AGAIN. You cannot love them, because you cannot say "no" to them.
Are you in a relationship where you cannot let someone know when they have hurt, angered, or even frustrated you? Have you begun to resent them? Is bitterness creeping in? It will. Especially as that loved one continues to do the one thing that is hurting you that you refuse to talk about to save their feelings. We cannot be truly unselfish, we cannot truly love someone if we have not learned to have and voice our boundaries. We will be too busy trying to protect ourselves.
Boundaries are important. They acknowledge that before you can meet the needs of others you have to meet your own. This includes: sleep, alone time, family time, honoring your feelings and generally not having too much on your plate.