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.
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.
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!