A few months ago, I helped facilitate a group exploring the book, Boundaries, by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend. The study was valuable to me—even though I balked initially at leading the group because of my already busy schedule and because I assumed I already had a good grasp of the topic.
While relieved to learn I have good basic knowledge about healthy boundaries, the perspective and teaching of the respected Christian psychologists from Southern California, revealed I had never been taught about how my personal boundaries relate to God’s plan for boundaries.
Following the class, one of our members invited a group to complete a 15-day on-line devotional (Bible Plan, Henry Cloud & John Townsend – Life Journey – https://bible.com). The heart of today’s post is a reflection from one of the group members, my friend, Cindy Jeansonne.
For those not familiar with Boundaries, here’s some context for Cindy’s comments. The authors use a metaphor to illustrate boundaries, explaining an individual’s boundary is like a fence built around her property. God gives each of us responsibility to care for our own ‘yard.’
God designed a world where we all live “within” ourselves; that is, we inhabit our own souls, and we are responsible for the things that make up “us.”…We are not…responsible for other people. Nowhere are we commanded to have “other-control,” although we spend a lot of time and energy trying to get it!
I hope this explanation provides a backdrop upon which to place the jewel of Cindy’s insightful reflection. She writes:
When I’m looking at someone else’s yard, I’m NOT looking at mine.
It’s no wonder this is a great temptation for me. It appears to be the EASIER path! Looking at my own yard and into my heart is painful.
It’s like my office. I don’t want to suffer through cleaning it and the decisions of sorting and throwing things out…I just shut the door and no one but me knows it’s there. When I open that door to get things or throw something else on the pile, I think, “I’ll clean this up when I have more time.”
Now, my office is no longer a place where I can reflect and work.
My heart is the same way. Without intentional reflection, and confession to God, without prayer and the discipline of God-directed action, I am not growing into the light I’ve been called to be!
Cindy’s Prayer: God, thank you for the gifts I take for granted. Being able to read and learn, reflect and write, and the technology that connects us in this study. Thank you for your forgiveness in the midst of my mess. Amen
In conclusion, I relate to my friend’s illustration. My home office is an ongoing trial. It’s probably my most personally important room in our home, but the one I have the biggest challenge maintaining order and organization.
When I asked Cindy’s permission to use her words in this post, she not only agreed but texted a photo of her cluttered office. I’m embarrassed to confess my first thought was, “Wow! Her office is a bigger mess than mine!”
Then, I chuckled.
My reaction is so typical of the unhealthy boundaries related to human nature. God has not only called me not to manage the ‘yard’ (or office) of my family, friends and neighbors, but also, not to judge nor compare my ‘yard’ to theirs.
Once again, I realize my soul is a work in progress! I’m encouraged, though, because I believe realization is a step beyond my past missteps of denial or rationalization.
In closing, I pray:
Dear Lord, thank you so much for your kindness and patience and for the sense of humor I imagine you must have as you watch us stumble around the ‘yards’ you’ve designed us to manage. Forgive my prideful comparison. Help my friend, Cindy—and help me—organize our office spaces into safe sanctuaries where we may enjoy sweet closeness with you, the one who created our ‘yards.’ Amen
- Boundaries, Cloud and Townsend, Chapter 2, What Does a Boundary Look Like? ↑