It was the worst day of her life. Her brothers were fighting, the phone was ringing, and someone was at the door. When I found her crying and asked what was wrong, she said she was having a “bad day.” She’d tried to answer the phone before it stopped ringing, and the person at the door left before she could get there. My 5-year-old daughter wanted me to “rest,” and in her eyes, she had failed to “take care of things.” I comforted her and told her those things were not her responsibility. I helped her see that her boundaries of responsibility did not include assuming my job.
We live our best and are less stressed when we have boundaries. For example, beaches define the sea, and we are not washed away. Skin surrounds our bones and tissue, and we do not bleed to death. House walls surround a climate-controlled space we call “home,” and we remain dry and warm. Time sets limits on the schedules of our lives, so we can accomplish and plan. The arrival of night and day alternately dictates our sleep and our work so we do not harm our brains.
Life is best lived within good boundaries. Yet, almost from birth, we struggle against them. We fuss at restrictions. Alternatively, we agree to every load dumped on us. I believe much of human suffering and the stress we feel comes from misplaced boundaries or boundaries that are not properly enforced. Our stress would be less if we learned when to say, “yes” and when to say, “no.” Then we might not have, or give others, a “bad day.”
What do you think?
“Do you not fear me?” declares the Lord…. “For I have placed the sand as a boundary for the sea…though the waves roar, they cannot cross over it.” Jeremiah 5:22 (NIV)
“Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.” Matthew 5:37 (NLT)
“No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other…” Luke 16:13 (NIV)
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:29, 30
If you need more help with understanding boundaries and the effect they have on stress, consider picking up a copy of this book. Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Authors Henry Cloud, John Townsend
I remember the time you are recalling and you do make a very good point in an interesting way. If we let the Lord teach us from experiences we have we can learn some very valuable lessons! I do enjoy reading your blogs, thanks for writing them.
Thanks for your encouragement! God is good to turn our difficulties into defining moments.
I think I am learning this right now. I have been having to say no a lot to friends and even family at times just so I can prioritize my school work and God time so that way I am not stressed. A lot of times I feel really bad about it but I’m working on scheduling and hopefully eventual I will line up with someone so we can visit. Definitely not easy but I have been way less stressed lately because of it!
Its a hard balance to maintain when so many things tug at our attention.