Hope, Healing & Freedom Podcast: Episode 65
I don’t know about you but I don’t like to be around people who have no control over their spirit. They often are unpredictable. They make me feel unsafe.
“Like a city that is broken into and without walls is a man who has no control over his spirit.” – Prov. 25:28 (NASB)
I’m Cindi Whitman from Restoring the Foundations and today we are going to continue talking about boundaries. If you have not had a chance to listen to last week’s podcast, I encourage you to do so. In that podcast I gave some examples of boundaries, both good boundaries and some examples of people who did not exercise good boundaries. Establishing and having good healthy boundaries is essential to living a life of peace and rest. Like today’s verse, Proverbs 25:28, “Living without boundaries is like a city with walls that are broken down.” Another translation of this verse says, “A person without self-control is like a house with its doors and windows knocked out.”
Let’s jump right in and define boundaries. Boundaries are the invisible property lines of your life. They define where you stop, and others start. Your boundaries define what you are responsible for and what others are responsible for. Many of us have been raised without good boundaries. We were brought up in homes where there either were no boundaries at all, or the boundary lines were blurred.
A house with its doors and windows knocked out is a good description of someone without good boundaries. There is nothing separating them and the things they are responsible for, from someone else and what they are responsible for. I believe that many of the verses that talk about self-control are describing someone without good boundaries. Verses like Proverbs 16:32, “One who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and one who rules his spirit, than one who captures a city.” In order to rule your own spirit, you must have good boundaries. You must know what is your responsibility and what is others responsibility.
Pastor, Counselor, and all round good guy Chip Judd says that there are three circles of influence when talking about boundaries. The first circle of influence is over things you have direct control over. The second circle of influence are things you have indirect control over. These are things you can influence but don’t have direct control over. The third circle of influence are things you have no control over.
Chip Judd also uses a very simple yet easy to understand word picture to describe boundaries, a Hula Hoop. Imagine that you have a Hula Hoop around you. You remember Hula Hoops right? Everything inside your Hula Hoop is your responsibility. These are things you have direct control over and they all begin with the pronoun “my”. My decisions. My choices. My attitude. My emotions.
Many people without good boundaries want to blame their decisions on others. “If they would not have put that cake on the table, I would not have overeaten.” Or they will blame their bad attitude on others. “Marcy’s always talking down to people and she makes it so that I can’t have a good day.” Or they will blame their emotions on others, “You make me so mad when you do that.” The truth is no one can make you mad. Being mad is inside your Hula Hoop and it is your choice. To blame things on others takes your personal power and responsibility away and makes you powerless.
The second circle of influence are things you have indirect control over. These are things you can influence but you don’t have direct responsibility over. One of the things in this circle is my health. I can influence my health by the choices that I make, but I do not have direct control over my health. Other things in this circle of influence are my spouses and my children’s choices. I can influence their decisions, but I do not have direct control or responsibility for their decisions. This should be a comfort to your parents whose children have made bad decisions in their life. You are not responsible for their bad decisions. Those decisions are in their Hula Hoop.
The third circle of influence are those things you have no control over. These would be things like other people’s choices, other people’s emotions, and other people’s happiness. Mia was raised with the Ungodly Belief that it was her responsibility to keep other people happy. As the daughter of a single Mom, Mia was looked to by her mother to meet all of her emotional needs. So, Mia learned early in life the old phrase, If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody is happy. Unfortunately for Mia, this drive to make people happy extended beyond just her mother. It spread to every relationship in her life. And when people were not happy, Mia felt like she had to fix whatever was wrong. What Mia learned during RTF ministry is that other people’s choices, emotions, and happiness are not in her Hula Hoop and thus they are not her responsibility. That was really good news!
Healthy boundaries begin with having the ability to rule our own spirits. When people lack an understanding of their boundaries and are unable to rule their own spirit, they often run to one or more of these four things to meet their needs:
- Performance & Power
When we try to get our needs met through people, they take the place of God in our lives. We become obsessed with doing whatever it takes to make sure to keep them happy, so they keep meeting our needs. This often looks like behaviors like not being able to say NO to them for fear they will be unhappy with us. If you are unable to say no to someone, then your yes means nothing. If all you can say is yes in order for people to be happy with you and for you to feel OK, then you do not have the ability to say no. Your no is meaningless. Getting your needs met through people also might look like trying to control their life so they will continue to need us, often using guilt and manipulation to get what we want. You have probably been around someone who uses manipulation to get you to do what they want. “Well I guess I will just have to do it myself since I don’t have anyone else who will help me.” Guilt and manipulation do not affect someone who has good boundaries.
When our walls are broken down people often turn to pleasure to try to meet their needs. Pleasure comes in all sorts of packages, from the extreme of sexual relationships outside of marriage, to more acceptable things like food or alcohol, sports, television, or even things like shopping. Someone whose walls are broken down may turn to pleasure in many different forms to get their needs met.
People without good healthy boundaries may turn to possessions to try and fill a void in their lives. Having possessions is nice but those possessions can never fully meet the needs we have. Another common thing that people turn to in order to meet needs is they look to performance or power. The lie is that if they can perform well enough, they will finally feel like they are ok. Or if they can gain a position of power they will finally be ok. If I have a position of power I can be somebody and that will make me feel OK.
The key is not necessarily what people turn to in order to get their needs met, the key is that these are signs of having a lack of personal boundaries. As I mentioned in last week’s podcast, the beginning point of establishing healthy boundaries is by valuing yourself. And the only place to receive that value not based on some outside criteria but rather it is through our relationship with Christ. When we receive Christ into our life we become a brand-new creation, our identity changes and we become a child of Father God. Our identity then as a child of God is what gives us value. And that value is not based on any exterior criteria, it is totally based on who we are as beloved sons and daughters of Father God. And because that value is not based on anything other than our birth in Christ, our value can never be diminished or taken away.
Let’s talk about how you can tell if you have boundary issues. I am going to list several things and give brief examples. This might be a time when you want to look at the text version of the podcast in order to get all of the notes.
You can’t see things as they really are or another way to say it is you lack objectivity. A very sad but perfect example of this is the woman who is being abused by her husband and thinks the abuse is her fault. This dear woman can’t see that her husband’s behavior is not her fault or responsibility. His abuse is in his Hula Hoop. Another example is the person who thinks when something is wrong it is always their fault.
You feel like you can’t measure up to the expectations of others no matter what you do. This points to the fact that you are looking to others to gain acceptance and value. Looking to others to determine if you measure up is looking to the wrong source. Our only source to determine if we measure up is by looking to our Heavenly Father. And you know what, He has only one criteria to determine if we measure up or not: Do you accept my son as your savior or not. If we accept His gift of salvation through Jesus Christ we have totally met His one and only standard.
You have boundary problems if you feel responsible for almost everyone and everything you care about, and you also feel guilty much of the time. When you make it your goal to be responsible for everyone and everything, you will fail more than you succeed, thus feeling guilty much of the time. There must be something more I can do, would be a common thought for this person.
Another sign of boundary issues is you have a difficult time saying “No” to people without feeling guilty or having to give them an explanation. The question is, “Do you want to go to the concert Friday night?
‘ No is a very acceptable answer without having to give an explanation for why you don’t want to go. If you can’t say no or you have to explain why you said no, then you might have a boundary problem. Vivian from last week’s podcast falls into this category. She cannot say no to her daughter.
You might have a boundary problem if you are an emotional extremist. Life is either wonderful or awful. This once again points to living life from the outside in, instead of getting your life and all of your needs met through your relationship with Christ. As our verse for today says this person’s walls are broken down and they are being driven by external influences.
You might have a boundary problem if you can analyze everyone else’s problems but not your own. This person gives great advice, but they have a hard time living out of their own advice.
You might have a boundary problem if you often feel responsible for making other people happy or successful. You want to see someone who is going to burn out and get exhausted, this is the person. It is not your job to make or keep other people happy. God doesn’t try to make people happy, because happiness is based upon the situation. God gives us joy which is not dependent on our external circumstances.
You might have a boundary problem if you feel that you must be in complete control of your spouse, your family, and your home.
You try harder and harder but your increased intensity and commitment results in self-criticism rather than growth, compulsion rather than joy and peace, and more distance rather than intimacy.
You might have a boundary problem if you are in a co-dependent relationship where one person is abusive and the other person absorbs that abuse. This is easily seen in an abusive marriage. But it is often harder to see in a friendship relationship. During ministry our friend Beth described her relationship with someone she considered to be a good female friend. After she talked about their relationship for a while we responded by saying, “Here is what we hear. Your meetings are always on her schedule. The conversation is most often about her, her husband and her children. When you call she often does not have time to get together. However, when you are busy and can’t get together with her she manipulates you with guilt. Is that correct?”
You might have a boundary problem if you control or manipulate others, or you feel controlled and manipulated. Control and manipulation are like someone throwing a fishing hook in the water. The hook only works if the fish bite the hook. If you don’t bite on the hook of manipulation or control, the control and manipulation won’t affect you. That is why understanding good healthy boundaries is so important to a life of peace and rest. To be yanked around by other people’s manipulation and control makes for a miserable life.
In last week’s podcast we talked about Jennifer who was trying to manipulate and control her children using money. She would pay for things in order to get them to do what she wanted. Someone with healthy boundaries would be able to make an offer to help her children, but leave the decision up to them. Then they would be OK with whatever the decision was. A person with healthy boundaries can receive “No” and still be OK.
In next week’s podcast we are going to talk about what it looks like to have healthy boundaries. Don’t be discouraged if you’re struggling with having healthy boundaries. We have the solution! People with healed hearts are free to say yes and free to say no. You can go from a place of being constantly conflicted to a place of peace.
If you need help getting to that place of peace please reach out to our ministry office.
Check out our new website at: www.restoringthefoundations.org. You’ll find the ministry tab at the top. Don’t settle! Freedom is worth the investment that you will make in yourself!
Thank you for opening our eyes today about our need for boundaries. We know that you want us to live a life of peace, and not be tossed to and fro. Help us in our relationships to know if we are responding from a place of peace or if our relational walls are broken down. Thank you Father for loving us just the way we are but loving us too much to leave us the way we are!