Let’s Talk About BOUNDARIES!

So guys, on the theme of getting paced spiritually…BOUNDARIES.

I don’t know how this topic makes you feel, but I know when I heard the word “boundaries”, it used to make me feel uncomfortable and somewhat defensive. What would run through my mind were things like:

“Boundaries is that awkward talk mom and dad sit down with their teen to talk about physical stuff in dating, right?”

“Boundaries is mostly just for people in super unhealthy relationships, right?”

“If I put up a boundary here it means I can’t do as much as I want to for God!!”

“I don’t have boundary issues, I’m just a driven person that can multi-task.”

“I don’t think I’m busier than anyone else- we all have lots to do and if I say no to this I’ll probably be judged or I’ll need to find a way to justify myself.”

Do any of these sound familiar to you?

Maaaaaan oh man, I had a wake-up call recently. I’m reading the book “Boundaries” by Cloud and Townsend, and I highly recommend it. Every. Single. Person. Should. Read. This. Book.

So, I’ve actually owned this book for well over a year, and I’m just now getting around to reading it. Because of a lack of boundaries… IRONIC, RIGHT?

But in all seriousness, I’m super thankful that God put this book back in front of my face and forced me to just hunker down and start reading.

The biggest thing I realize now is that my relationship with God, my relationship with those I love, and my effectiveness for God’s Kingdom are at stake if I can’t place down healthy boundaries.

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There’s different types of boundaries- boundaries in relationships, with children, at work, with time, etc… but today I’ll be talking mostly about boundaries with time. I think this is one we can all relate to. You’ve probably had moments like me where you go, “HOW did I get so BUSY?”

In my opinion, time is the one boundary that affects all other boundary areas. It’s a big one! So I’d love to share 5 practical tips with you on how to establish boundaries on your time that allow you to be healthy, paced, and effective in the things you do from day-to-day. These are NOT things I’m an expert in, but rather things that I’m currently learning and implementing.

Ditch the Screens. Don’t allow your time to be stolen from you because you’re not placing boundaries on screen time. I actually can’t stress this point enough: Screens are a MASSIVE time waster. (As I say this from behind a screen…haha but I promise this isn’t time-wasting!) I resolved a while back to delete my social media apps, spend less time on my phone, and not waste time on TV (with the occasional exception of Food Network!). I used to have a really tough time waking up in the mornings, and a way for me to not immediately fall back asleep was to grab my phone and check my schedule for the day, scroll through Facebook, etc. I’m now resolving to start my day with Jesus. I already tend to do my devotions in the morning after getting ready, but now I want the first thing I do after I open my eyes to be saying Good Morning to my Good Father. It seriously gets me grounded and paces me in peace rather than being in a rush right from the minute I open my eyes and grab my phone.

Track your hours. Keep track of how you’re spending your time and ask yourself whether this is how you want to be delegating the 12(ish) hours of your day. You might be surprised at how you’re actually spending your time versus how you think you’re spending your time! When I first started my job I had to fill out time sheets during my probationary period. An account of how I spent literally every single hour. Even now that I’m no longer on time sheets, I still keep track (written down!) of how I spend every hour of my day. Not in an obsessive way, but to make sure I’m being productive and stewarding my time well. I do this with my personal, non-work time as well by having a note in my calendar on my phone. This not only ensures that I get stuff done that needs to get done, but I also have a visual of what’s on my to-do list and can see whether it’s realistic or not. I don’t need to beat myself up if I don’t get it all done, because I can easily slide stuff over to another day. I only have so much time in my day and I don’t want to waste it OR push my boundaries.

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Lay it all out before God and ask HIM to choose. Ugh. This is a big one for me. I shared in my blog mission that I have a tendency to go through unhealthy cycles of over-committing myself and then burning out and being less effective. I then feel guilt about “not doing as much” and over-commit again…and the cycle continues. Last June when I sat down with my Counselor he said to me, “Jen, I believe that you’re very capable. You have lots on your plate. But have you ever stopped to ask whether the things you’re doing are good things or God things?” Ooooh..convicted. So I made a list in my notebook that contained everything I’m either part of, working on, wanting to be a part of, dreaming of doing, etc…and it was a BIG list. A big list of lots of good things, but not all God’s best things. Since that day, I’ve been praying over this list daily. I cut back to a healthy level of “doing”. I opened up my hands and asked God to take things out, fill them with things He desires, refine or adjust some of the plans, and just slowly fill my time up with the things He wants me to do.

Don’t be afraid to say NO. The tough thing about laying everything out before God is that He’ll inevitably also show you some areas where you need to close the door or step away for a season. I’ll be super honest that this was challenging for me. Do you ever feel like our society praises busyness and makes you feel more productive if you’re on the run from the moment you open your eyes to the minute you hit the pillow? I think some of this mentality has even snuck into our Church culture. Do we place too much emphasis on “doing” sometimes? This goes for all areas, but I’ll address the Church specifically: there are lots of roles to fill and things to do, but that doesn’t mean they’re all for YOU! Pray, pray, pray about where you’re supposed to be serving. I know sometimes it’s more about praying for an attitude shift if you’re not having joy in serving, but sometimes it’s also an indicator that you’ve got too much on your plate. That’s what it was for me. And guess what? God currently has me in a season of not serving in very many official capacities. I’m in a season of growing, resting in God, and serving as an encourager.

Balance. Whoever said “everything in moderation” knew a thing or two. In addition to writing out everything I’m involved in or doing, I also started tracking which of these things are “life giving” versus “life draining”. Having too much life-giving stuff in your schedule could mean that you’re missing out on some service stuff, but having too much life-draining stuff in your schedule could mean that you’re on the road to burn out. It needs to be in balance. I’ll give some examples in case you’re not sure what this means. For me, a few life-giving things include my time with God, being part of a small group for fellowship and Bible study, spending quality time with my husband or family, and spending time outdoors. Some life-draining things include big social functions, attending practices, and mentoring others. This doesn’t mean that the life-giving stuff is better or that the life-draining stuff is bad- it just means that because of my personality I tend to find certain interactions or things where I’m pouring out to other people more draining. You might be one of those people that finds all of your interactions with people life-giving, and in that case I envy you!! But I’m wired differently. This is why it’s SO important to find out how your current balance is within your schedule, and how you can prayerfully make changes to it. You need to be filled up in order to pour out!!! That’s totally biblical and even Jesus needed to spend time away from others to be filled up by His Father.

I hope this ends up being helpful for you the way it has been for me. I’ll just end with this one encouragement: don’t put this off! Healthy boundaries are so important for every aspect of your life- body, mind, and Spirit. You might find it helpful to find an accountability partner. Ask a friend, spouse, mentor, or someone else that you trust to help you evaluate your schedule, break it down, figure out what God’s best is, and become more balanced in pouring out and being filled up. Get them to pray for you, send some accountability texts every once in a while, and support you when you need to say no to something and are stressing about it.

All the best, friend!! Praying for you as you embark on this same journey that I’m also currently on. Let’s get paced so we can run victoriously!

 

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Lisa says:

    Thanks so much Jen!

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  2. courtney says:

    Real and beautiful. Thanks Jen!

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  3. Jasmine says:

    so enjoyed this post…. I am still learning each day!

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  4. theOwl30 says:

    The BOUNDARIES book by Cloud and Townsend is good. I have it. I need to re-read it.

    Your post has good tips. Thanks. And it got me thinking about Boundaries with friends. Suppose you relocated to a new city. You have a new job and a house or apartment but you don’t know anyone here. But you are making some new friends. Have you ever felt like you shouldn’t have to say what I’m about to say, but want to anyway just to nip things in the bud? Like this:

    Things We Shouldn’t Have To Say To New Friends But Want Them To Know Anyway
    1. Call first, before you come over. Don’t surprise me.
    2. When I say: Sure! Come on over…..that means YOU. ONLY you! Don’t bring over 2 of your buddies from work, or any kid in diapers, or your dog.
    3. Unless it’s an emergency, don’t call before 9am or after 8pm. I probably won’t answer my phone. I’ll do the same.
    4. When you come over, don’t block my car in the driveway.
    5. Don’t bring food with you. I have food, or will offer you a beer, or we’ll go somewhere.
    6. Absolutely NO smoking in my place.
    Do I really need to say these things? I’m very tempted to anyway, as I feel there are just too many all-too-casual and lax people out there.
    Am I within my rights? I think so.
    Will I be slammed with “being a narcissist?” Or “too Controlling?” Who is in charge at *your* house?

    Now let’s dare to go one step further. I may not really do this next one, but it’s tempting. What if I said: when you come over, leave your cell phone out in your car.
    Why?
    Because if you’re coming over, it should be to see, talk to and visit with, me. So let’s do that. And you’ll have my attention, too. What I don’t want to happen is to have you no sooner arrive and in 2 minutes your phone rings and you gab and yak and talk and gab on your phone with one of your friends for 25 minutes right in front of me as I sit there, uninvolved. No way!

    Now that’s a good test-scenario. I wonder how most “pro-boundary people” would handle that one. One person gets accused of “flexing their muscles too much” while the other one is rude as hell. Cute!
    #Boundaries #Friends #Assertiveness #Communication #Psychology #Courtesy #Respect

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    1. Jen Krause says:

      Thanks for your comment!! It’s clear that you’ve put a lot of thought into this topic already, which is great.

      You ask some great questions…and I have a few comments in return, although I confess that this probably isn’t as sufficient as a face to face conversation. 🙂

      To start off with, it might be good to clarify that Boundaries are more about protecting ourselves than they are about limiting or placing rules on others. So that might help you understand which of your points would be appropriate to tell your new friends. Some are about protecting your own boundaries (such as a time to ask people to leave your house so you can sleep), but others might fall more into the category of placing limitations on others (such as telling them to leave phones in the vehicle). BUT that being said, I’ll come back to the point about the phones.

      Now, I’ll suggest that two of the best ways to move forward would be to first make sure you have a relationship with the person, and secondly come at it from an angle of “things I appreciate” versus “a checklist of things I want you to do if we’re going to be friends”. I’ll clarify those both more:

      1) If you don’t have at least somewhat of a foundation of a relationship with these people, the chances are that they might be taken off guard, offended, or weirded out by your requests. That doesn’t mean that your points are unfair (not at all!) but not everyone is a proactive thinker like you. So take it slow. That might mean putting up with some things you don’t appreciate very much (like someone showing up without calling) before establishing that you’d prefer a call or text in advance.

      2) I’ve learned this from marriage, so I promise it works: When you come at it from a positive slant versus a negative slant, it’s FAR more likely to go well. For example, what if you say something like: “Hey, I appreciate our new friendship. I’d love to respect YOUR boundaries and preferences, so is there anything you’d like me to know in that regard? Do you like to go to bed early? Do you prefer that I call you before showing up to hang out? Do you care if people drink in your apartment?” Trust me that they will appreciate you asking, and they likely have a few of their own preferences! After telling you, they’ll also likely return the question, which will give YOU the opportunity to share your preferences or personal boundaries. Even if they don’t return the question, you’ll still have a chance to respond and share while you’re on that topic.

      Now back to the phone comment… I’m totally with you there because I’ve experienced frustration with people being on phones while hanging out. It’s not the most courteous, and it isn’t very respectful. I’m hesitant at the thought of asking people to leave phones in their vehicle if you don’t know them well yet. However, if you’ve known them for a while I don’t think there’s anything wrong with giving that a try and seeing how it goes. But then I might try it this way: “Hey guys, I realized how much we’re glued to our phones all the time, so I figured it would be a good idea to unplug while we’re hanging out! I’m going to keep my phone in the vehicle, why don’t we all do that? I think we’ll enjoy our time together more.” You might be surprised by people’s willingness to do that. Worst case scenario, they might not want to and you can’t force them. But if you’re with someone who’s constantly on their phone when you’re hanging out, it might also be good to re-evaluate whether that’s a friendship you want to be investing in!

      Lastly, I’m not sure if you’re plugged into any church community, but if you’re not you could be! A lot of churches offer different connections groups or small groups, and you can meet some awesome people through those 🙂

      I hope this helps a bit, and I’ll be praying for wisdom as you navigate this tough topic!!

      -Jen

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  5. Eric Feigel says:

    Jen, Thank you! Good points that I can learn from also. God give you wisdom and bless you further! Love, Oma & Opa

    Jen Krause posted: “So guys, on the theme of getting paced spiritually…BOUNDARIES. I don’t know how this topic makes you feel, but I know when I heard the word “boundaries”, it used to make me feel uncomfortable and somewhat defensive. What would run through my mind were th”

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  6. Therese says:

    Thank you for this! Exactly what I needed to read. I too enjoy the Boundaries books! Our library has a number of them, so that’s another option for those who don’t want to buy another book (assuming Edmonton library has them as well).

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    1. Jen Krause says:

      It sure is important in our line of work, isn’t it?? When God is the one giving us our priorities it’s a lot easier to be protected against getting burnt out 🙂

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