Presented by Gail Cawley Showalter at SMORE Sunday Group
Of all our boundaries our internal ones are the most confusing, complex, and conflicting. When you fail to control your personal issues, habits, even addictions, you may experience embarrassment even shame. You could be dealing with holding your tongue or abstaining from substance abuse. The degree of the problem may not be the issue so much as your thinking about it. While it seems easy to tell others how to solve their boundary problems, we have a tough time with our own internal, often private, tormentors. We attempt to cope with out-of-control eating, spending, our inability to manage our time and even inappropriate sexual behaviors. Do you live in shame when you can’t overcome a personal boundary issue?
Pogo Possum said it best, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”
According to Cloud and Townsend there are three reasons we have trouble controlling our own problem areas:
- We are our own worst enemies,
- We try to use willpower to solve boundary problems, and
- We withdraw from relationships.
Your Own Enemy
I suggest you do an autopsy on your situations to learn the source of your problems. It might be messy, but is worth the effort. If you are compassionate towards yourself in this process you will uncover answers to why you do those things that create problems in your life or don’t set the boundaries for your own good. You must find the source of your struggle. It could be as simple as not being taught or disciplined as a child to manage money or plan your time well.
Seminar leaders stress will power as the solution to whatever causes your problems. They tell us to depend on our will power to eat sensibly, to manage money wisely, to balance time with families and all the other boundary problems we face. If this were the answer to our personal issues then we would have figured it out by now.
When in my first marriage, with three young children, I must have sensed something was wrong. My approach was to take control of all household management, attempting to make everything perfect. I adopted the SHE program. Sidetracked Home Executives was a highly ordered system of household maintenance and cleaning. I found this to be an attractive challenge that appealed to my will power and persistence. In those days I relied totally on myself.
A short time later my marriage fell apart. I learned, in the years to follow that I wasn’t in this alone. I needed boundaries all around, never considering that I had a family member who would help, a heavenly Father.
We begin to think it all depends on our own determination, simply a matter of will power. “This approach. . . makes an idol out of the will” which is “something God never intended.”1 We haven’t learned a significant message of Easter, “not my will, but yours be done.”2
Our spirits tend to rebel when we attempt to change our behavior with the white-knuckle approach. One reason recovering alcoholics learn to ‘never say never’ is because they know the truth of this. When we fail we usually isolate and the behavior continues in the private and quiet places where we hide. “The more we isolate ourselves, the harder our struggle becomes. Just like an untreated cancer can become life-threatening in a short time, self-boundary problems will worsen with increased aloneness.”3 We need relationship.
You may think that you will tackle your internal issue alone, but God’s grace is the real answer. This involves others. Whether it is a small group of Christian friends, a support group, or a healthy family we were intended to “carry each other’s burdens.”4
Be wise in choosing any group. Ask in prayer for the discernment to know when you are in a safe place to share. I learned I couldn’t do everything alone, and I needed a relationship with friends and my Father.
Christ took on shame and demonstrated the ultimate overcoming for us as he gave His life. He recognized that the world is full of hardships and challenges. Just prior to His crucifixion He said,
“In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” 5
Ours is not a religion, but a relationship.
Have a Blessed Easter
- Cloud and Townsend, Boundaries, p. 225
- Holy Bible (NIV) Luke 22:42
- Cloud and Townsend, Boundaries, p. 224
- Holy Bible (NIV) Galatians 6:2
- Holy Bible (Msg) John 16:33