Establishing Healthy Boundaries

“Seldom set your foot in your neighbors’ house – too much of you, and they will come to hate you”  Proverbs 25:17 NIV

Turn Walls of Fear into Healthy Boundaries

  • As we embrace our authentic identity, we learn to value ourselves in God’s eyes. We no longer desire to engage in the same unhealthy patterns of behavior that held our souls in bondage before.  We will find that learning to live life in a healthy way can be enjoyable, meaningful, and fulfilling.
  • Even as our transformational journey continues, our old ways of thinking don’t quickly die. Just because we’ve changed doesn’t mean that the people in our lives have changed.  In fact, we may become more aware than ever of unhealthy relationships and emotionally unhealthy people in our lives.  This doesn’t make us better than them.  It makes us aware of their need for the hope we’ve found in Jesus.
  • How can we find the freedom to be our authentic selves, yet at the same time protect ourselves from the effects of toxic people, places, and things? This lesson will help us learn to create boundaries to help us develop new, healthy ways of participating in relationships with others based on God’s principles.

Boundaries finceWhat Are Boundaries?

Boundaries are visible or invisible “fences” that define ownership, protect our rights, and set rules to determine what is acceptable and what is not acceptable within a relationship.  Boundaries say, “I belong to me and you belong to you.”

In their bestselling book, Boundaries, Christian psychologists Henry Cloud and John Townsend define a boundary in this way: “A boundary is a property line. We can easily understand this by thinking of one’s property, which defines what is yours, and what is not yours. A boundary then simply defines ownership. Knowing the scope of ownership is important because whoever owns something controls it and is thereby responsible for it. In the material world boundaries are easily defined by such things as walls or fences, but in the immaterial world, such as human relationships, boundaries are harder to see.”

Rather than merely separating, boundaries protect what we possess, are responsible for, and value, including the beauty of the life God gave us.  Boundaries enable us to defend ourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually against intrusive or unwanted risks or dangers.  But the entire design and purpose of healthy boundaries is to create guidelines for mutual respect, consideration, protection, and safety in all areas of a relationship.  Some of the parts of our lives that boundaries define and protect include:

  • Our bodies
  • Our emotions
  • Our feelings
  • Our family
  • Our loved ones
  • Our beliefs
  • Our values
  • Our identity
  • Our time
  • Our money
  • Our responsibilities
  • Our roles
  • Our possessions
  • Our freedoms

God’s Boundary System

All of God’s principles, laws, and promises rest on a perfect set of boundaries established through His word.  These boundaries are specific for each area of our lives.  In love, He established these to protect us and give us a safe environment in which to grow in our relationship with God and others.

God doesn’t establish boundaries because He needs protection.  He establishes them to offer His guiding principles for our lives – principles that, in fact, will protect us, sometimes even from ourselves and our own choices.  With His boundaries in place, we learn how to thrive both in our relationship with Him and our relationships with one another.

Developing Healthy Boundary Systems

The establishment of boundary systems begins while we’re small children.  We learn the “rules’ for life and family, and the concept of consequence for wrongful choices and behaviors.  We are taught about the role of grace and forgiveness versus shame and punishment when we violate a boundary.  The boundaries within each family are composed of individual family member’s belief systems.  Whether the boundary system is established fairly and under safe and healthy Biblical guidelines depends on how healthy or unhealthy those family members are emotionally and spiritually.

In a home where there is a lack of parental structure and a lack of Biblical morality being modeled to children, a child might not learn healthy boundaries.  As a result, they will merely learn to survive and cope with the uncertainty, fear, and pain that surrounds them every day.  When a child from this type of home becomes an adult, they will more than likely struggle to develop any type of healthy boundary system in their life, work, and relationships.  For this to change, it will require a lengthy process of surrendering to God and His ways, identifying false beliefs and negative behaviors, and to develop a new belief system based on God’s truth.

Conversely, in a home that is filled with love, grace, and safe, healthy boundaries, a child will learn that he or she has freedom to make choices – even if the choices are wrong – and still safely “be themselves.”  Wrong choices will carry consequences but shaming and rejecting are not among those consequences.  This home also teaches the purpose of forgiveness, and other life-building virtues grounded in the word of God.  A child raised in this type of family system will grow up to become an emotionally and spiritually healthy person, instilled with a sense of boundaries that were an inbred part of who he or she has become.

No matter how skewed our boundary system may have been, God’s word provides the guidelines, answers, and specific boundaries we need to live life to the fullest.  He not only teaches us these boundaries, but He also gives us the desire and ability to adhere to them.

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Soul health and spiritual maturity cannot be separated.  Our counselors are ordained Christian ministers as well as certified and licensed Christian counselors.  We are able to help you experience freedom from shame, anxiety, depression, or marriage / relationship conflict with methods that are purely Christ-centered.   Life Training offers convenient sessions at our office in Louisville, Kentucky, as well as online counseling via Zoom or FaceTime.  Our non-profit counseling practice has an outstanding track record for over a decade helping men and women, individuals and couples who are ready to move beyond anxiety, depression, and conflicts in marriage or other relationships find hope and healing in their lives.  Contact us today at 502-717-5433, or by email at drdave@lifetrainingcounseling.org