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  • Kelly Neff

Boundaries


Photo: Kelly Neff

Yesterday I came face to face with another lie that I've believed my entire life. I was first confronted with it almost twenty years ago when my counselor told me I must learn to set boundaries in my relationships. She explained that healthy relationships exist when there are clear boundary lines.


I've only been brave enough to enter the boxing ring and duke it out with this lie occasionally. When I have mustered the courage to have a face-off and enforce healthy boundaries, the results have been incredibly positive and freeing. So why on earth do I still cower in the presence of this lie? Why do I still bob and weave when it comes to enforcing the boundaries in my life?


Somewhere in the back of my mind, I have been aware that my lack of boundaries is costing me, but I have been persistently pushing that truth to the wayside.


Yesterday my heart was crushed when I realized that my lack of boundaries had the potential to cost me dearly. You see, an opportunity that may be the first step toward turning a dream of mine into reality, nearly slipped away.


Here's the thing, in my struggle to be good enough, it has been easy to follow a line of reasoning that sounds true, but after taking a closer look, it may be a truth tucked inside a boxing glove that is cunningly laced with lies.




My thought process has been that a good person shouldn't be selfish, right? So, therefore, everyone else’s schedule and needs are more important than mine. That sounds true. I mean, we are called to put others ahead of ourselves and lay down our lives for them, right?


So why do I feel beat up when I allow the needs of others to override EVERYTHING in my life? Is that really what we are called to do, or is it possible that I’m in the ring, getting the @#$%&* beat out of me, and I’m about to go down for the count? Maybe you can relate?


So, I began to search for answers and I was struck by what I found. If my line of reasoning was correct, then no one should ever set boundaries because if they did, they'd be selfish.


As I began to process this thought, I realized that my perspective was askew about how to be a good person and what it means to be selfless when I considered the following questions.


What would our world look like if there were no boundaries? There would be complete chaos without order, rules, or guidelines. The truth is, in a world with no boundaries, selfishness would abound because there would be nothing to hold it back.


With no boundaries in my life, I have left myself wide open for a knock out by a left hook, which is the exact opposite of what I want to achieve. The lie tells me that others will respect me… if I do enough for them. It tells me that I can earn their respect... if I am good enough.


The thing is, it doesn't seem to be working very well. I am bruised and bleeding from repeated jabs to the face and I’m hoping to hang on until the bell rings, signaling the end of the match.


It seems as though the people I work the hardest to please and make happy, only see me as a means to an end. It's not that they don't love me or appreciate what I do for them, but what I have taught them to see is the value of what I do, not the value of me as a person.


So, in my efforts to gain respect, I have instead become an easy target, vulnerable prey, the one who is unprotected and easy to knock out and toss aside… that is until the next need arises.




My perception of selflessness and selfishness has been askew, which has led to a life with no boundaries. I have not earned respect because I have not taught others of my worth as a person. I am learning that clear and strong boundaries are the key to commanding respect. Giving in to the desires of others at all costs is only earning disdain.


Of course, it is a difficult thing to teach someone to respect you when you aren't even convinced you are valuable. And there it is! I just uncovered another lie, and this one is an even stronger opponent. This lie is a heavyweight. It hits even harder and cuts even deeper.


I understand in my head that boundaries are healthy for relationships because they are a means of protection. But here's the thing, you only need to protect something if you believe it is valuable.

I keep trying to be good enough as if this is something attainable one day. The lie tells me that I must do enough to be good enough, and then I will feel valuable. When I believe that I have no worth until I am good enough, it produces a self-defeating, never-ending cycle.


If I refuse to set boundaries, I will continue to lose on the mat every time. If I refuse to set boundaries, I will continue to feed the lies and be defeated.


If you’re like me and what you've been doing isn't working, maybe it's time to try something different? So, consider this…what if your value has nothing to do with what you do or being good enough?


What if you already have great worth...?


You see, if you already have great value, then you are worth protecting!


Did you hear that?


You already have great value and you are worth protecting!


Say this with me out loud… I am choosing to speak truth to myself starting right now.


I am of great value and I am worth protecting!


My friend, be brave and set those healthy boundaries. Take courage and enforce them. Others must learn to respect your boundaries, and they will ultimately learn to respect you.


Blessings!


"So God created human beings in his own image..."


https://my.bible.com/bible/116/GEN.1.27.NLT


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