Welcome to Day 19 of #write31days!
For more information check out the series’ page.
The problem with setting healthy boundaries, is not always connected to the work or the lack of rest – if we’re really honest and take a closer look at our heart we find a fear that drives us to never say no and just keep going.
Lie #3: My No will drive away friends, spouses, or colleagues
In the course of the last year I have practiced to say NO a bit more often.
NO to extra assignments and responsibilities.
NO to jumping on every band wagon and event.
NO to people wanting my help, my time, my effort, my creativity, my emotions.
This wasn’t an easy process.
One of the strongest forces holding me back from setting boundaries was that voice inside of me, telling me:
“If you say NO now, people won’t like you anymore.
If you no longer invest in this friendship it’ll break apart and friends will turn their backs on you.
If you cut back on your time in church, at work or other ministries, no one will ever ask you for a leadership role ever again. They’ll find people better than you and you can’t return in the future.”
Thoughts like this kept me going for a long time, but the last year has taught me that I couldn’t just go on. So I had to take a step back and dig deeper. Why did I allow these lies settle in my heart and mind?
Behind the concern for a project or other people lies fear.
Fear to be rejected by others because I can’t give anything at the moment.
Fear to be replaced by other skilled people and losing a place of passion and influence.
Fear to be abandoned by friends when you need them the most ebcause you’re at the receiving end of a friendship for once.
And underneath is an even deeper fear.
Fear of losing my identity, the definition of who I am.
The reason why I fear rejection, replacement, and abandonment is definition gone wrong. A certain position in a ministry, a place and work I’m good at tell me who I am. I can’t deny that it’s flattering to receive compliments for my work at x or my talent in y. It feels encouraging and uplifting to be good at something. We all need a bit of appreciation once in a while, but if we don’t pay attention – if we don’t set good boundaries – the chase for appreciation will define and drive us to a wrong end.
A certain intimacy and dependency are a necessary foundation for any relationship. It requires effort, initiative, and investment. Things we’re willing to give and receive for people we love and care about. Ultimately, however, no matter how close a bond is – these people don’t define who we are. And nothing we do (or don’t do) should change our status in this relationship. Or as my friend Liz once said:
We are human beings, not human doings.
This is not to say that life can be rough and relationships can look like abattlefield. And yes, sometimes friendships break apart and we’re left alone.
But who we are deep down inside, away from anyone else, has been defined a long time before you ever had any human contact.
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139:13-16
When we hear this voice inside us trying to hold us back from setting boundaries, we need to look deeper.
We need to examine and ask ourselves: What is the real fear behind it? Who or what do I allow to define who I am?
God is a good person to talk to, he is our creator and knows who he made us to be. So let’s be brave and face our fears, admit where our definition has gone wrong. And then allow His truth to illuminate our darkness and replace the lies buried inside of us.
Who or what defines you? Where have definitions gone wrong and you need to address deeper fears?
Take some time to ponder these questions together with God.