NOVEMBER- Presence Month Friend,
As we go through this season full of holidays and parties, we are going to change things up on here. In the interest of digging deeper into certain topics and themes, we are going to address one topic each month. What better topic to start with than being present? Time will fly by, that is inevitable. The question is whether or not you will use it. We are here now, so lets capitalize on the time we’ve been given. As we get ready to give presents to others, let’s give ourselves the gift of being present. Being present is a choice, and not one to be made once, but one that needs to be made frequently.
One of the keys in mastering the art of remaining present is the habit of healthy boundaries. Describing the facets of healthy boundaries is difficult, but let’s at least clarify what boundaries look like and what they are meant for. Many of us have a skewed perception of their function and how to properly build them.
What is a boundary?
When first considering this question I saw a massive stone wall. Something similar to the Great Wall of China. That is not a boundary. That is a barrier. Barriers are meant to keep things from getting in, or out, for that matter. Barriers limit or restrain. There is a small but distinct difference between boundaries and barriers. What is it? Flexibility and vulnerability.
Healthy boundaries allow for a transfer back and forth. Instead of a massive stone wall, I see boundaries like a portable fence with gates intermixed at proper intervals. Boundaries are somewhat flexible and fluid. Their parameters allow for the good to come in while providing enough protection to help keep the bad out. Healthy boundaries can change according to the various seasons in our lives. Boundaries are lines that delineate the end of you and the beginning of another.
In discussing boundaries versus barriers, there is often a misperception about boundaries that needs to be to addressed. Boundaries cannot be erected once and expected to stand strong and sustain their integrity. We must constantly tend to our boundaries to ensure they are being respected. We must also see to it that they are functioning at their best. Furthermore, it’s imperative that our boundaries do not violate that of others. Boundaries are not just a decision but a habit that must be developed and strengthened.
What do boundaries have to do with being present? Think of it this way. Can you fully enjoy the moment when you are wrestling with issues from misperceptions of others’ behaviors? Can you be present when you’re fixated on resentment, bitterness, or even poor management of your own life? That leaves very little head space to fully participate in the moment set before you. Without healthy boundaries, the past clouds the present. It is time to clean out the remnants of the past that are restricting our capacity today.
If this is an area in which you struggle, my challenge and solution is this: Gather 2-3 of your closer friends, grab the book Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend and go through the book together. There is power in confession and agreement and that’s something you cannot do on your own. Plus, you are able to share revelations and struggles while encouraging and holding each other accountable in a small group setting. This is a journey. We all need friends beside us in the process. You need a team, not just sideline observers.
Finally, while boundaries require some vulnerability, they also help you to maintain a life that is healthy. We are not to live a life without pain, because that means we also live a life void of true joy. What matters more is that we progress not that we are perfect. When we seek to establish a habit of healthy boundaries it produces an internal order. Our mind and emotions are not chaotic freeing us to more fully engage and serve others. (1 Corinthians 14:40).
If while reading this you felt any sting or unsettling, I challenge you to step out in faith. Strengthen your habit of establishing boundaries. Your ability to be present is counting on it. But remember, progress not perfection.