The Freedom of Boundaries
I thought about starting this post with the story of me, muffling my tears with an oversized sweatshirt, in an airport bathroom. I thought maybe I’d include a few shameful documentations of the jealous, unhappy, and confused person I had become, not because of anyone else but because of me. To top it off, I’d end the narrative with how I decided to cut people off before they could hurt me. Strategy, you see. Those things are true and at best, you might be able to relate to those accounts but I want to share with you, the words that I believe, with God, forever changed me and could forever change you, too.
FREEDOM IS POSSIBLE
Did you read that? FREEDOM IS POSSIBLE. Maybe you’re in something so toxic, so manipulative or just something covertly unhealthy that you feel, it’s the life you’re made to live. It’s almost normal to you now. Maybe you feel like you’ve made your bed and now you’re doomed to sleep in it. I’m only here to tell you, I believed that lie. I believed I was just “an emotional mess”,meant to struggle with “soul- ties” forever. It isn’t so.
There’s a Cost, Pay It.
Could that be right? There’s a cost? To emotional freedom? Yea, it’s going to cost you something. For me, the cost was not great but my hands clenched on to what needed to be given up. It wasn’t a physical payment, it was a spiritual one and that, is not cheap. It meant acknowledging that there was an idol in my life and that’s just such a serious word. “Idol? Me? Oh, I would never”, I thought for many years. The fact is, that’s how I see soul- ties. If anyone or anything is so attached to your soul or your heart that you can’t give it up or see it for what it is, there may be a problem. For me, it was person, it was people but the healing didn’t come from just cutting a person out of my life. Maybe that’s your healing. For me, there was a root issue and to my dismay, the root issue, was me. My sense of worth and self was coming from how valued I felt in relationships. For me, it wasn’t romantic at all, it was just dangerous. It’s too much responsibility for any human to carry the weight of someone else’s worth. The cost looked like months of loneliness. Not loneliness from isolation but “alone-ness”. Alone time for God show me my worth in Him and that time was often lonely as well. I had to learn how to let God comfort me instead of constantly running to others. Those first couple of months I felt like I couldn’t breathe. As I write, I’m aware that sounds dramatic. I’m hoping the people who have fought their way out of a soul- tie can relate. It looked like taking a person who was totally emotionally dependent on another person, cold turkey, out of their life. That’s what it was and that’s what it had to be. That’s the cost. Loving a person and not wanting to live without them, I’m going to step out and say, is so good and so natural. I never want to live without my family. However, loving a person and not be able to live without them is not okay. You either pay the spiritual cost or it comes knocking, to collect what’s due.
Draw the Line
It can feel harsh to set boundaries with people you love. It can seem extreme. The boundaries you set aren’t just for others, they are also for you. A fenced in back yard is a boundary. That fence could make a child playing in the back yard feel confined. They can only go so far, they can only run around within the distance the fence allows. “Why can't we play on the street or beyond the fence?”, they may think. Some would see it as a limitation. The boundaries aren’t set strictly to keep the children in but really to keep the danger out. The boundaries I’m speaking of aren’t fences in our back yards but they are the places in our hearts that God desires. I opened the fence gate. I had been so intimate, so painfully vulnerable in these relationships, I had opened the gate and walked down the street. It felt like freedom. Finally, I could explore beyond the back yard fence. Little did I know the danger of attachments at the heart. On that walk, so many other heartaches were perusing the streets, looking for one broken girl to devour. Draw the Line. Maybe it means moving slower, emotionally, in a budding romance or friendship. Maybe it means walking away from a person or thing that you’ve placed above all else in your life in an unhealthy way, or simply reprioritizing a relationship so that it can produce good fruit. Draw the line now before you’re tested. Within the boundaries of the back yard, the children can play joyfully, knowing they are watched over and safe. They actually have the MOST freedom. Draw your line, friend.
Gentleness With Yourself
There were, and are, a few days that humble me. I could be mid-lunch with a group of friends or sitting up in bed reading a book and the thought pops into my mind, “You are not enough.” Most days, I can quickly recognize the lies but there are other days I am slow to tear them down. What made me feel like enough was other people saying that I was. It was being most important to someone else. There are days, embarrassingly, I’m jealous of the people I love most, having other people. Hey, I didn’t say my truth was pretty. There may be days you revert back to an old habit, an old way of thinking you left behind or a past relationship you knew was harmful. You don’t yell and flail your arms at a child you love and want to teach something. You gently remind them, you encourage them to try again, and they keep moving forward. You are enough. You are worthy of love and of a beautiful life. Be gentle with yourself. You’re growing and learning and you may need some reminders, too. Always keep moving forward and remember, freedom IS possible. I know it to be true.