Boundaries! Who wants or needs them? Do you think the person in the picture below is glad for his boundary? I should think so. He would have a long drop if he should misstep without that fence to catch him. The fence is his protection as well as his guideline. What a gorgeous view he has from within his limits.
I am a person who detests boundaries. I have always been a rebel at heart. Now if you had known me my entire life, your jaw is likely sitting on the floor because someone appearing less rebellious possibly could not be found. Nevertheless, rebellion is in my nature. Give me a boundary, I will escape it as fast as I can. Tell me I can’t do something and I’m likely to do it.
My dad told me recently that when he bought a used bike for my brother, he got a second one free. That old adult size bike weighed more than I did at the time, I was about 8 years old, and he told me I couldn’t ride it because it was too big for me. Well, I learned to ride that bike that same day, by myself. Rebel!
Above is how I view a boundary. I’m on a short leash. I can only go so far but I want to explore. The best grass is beyond my boundary and I want it, right now. Rebellion. Why is this sheep tied to a tree? We can guess it’s to keep it from wondering off, protection, or it’s to keep it from eating grasses that will make it sick, protection once again. In my rebellion, it would feel like punishment to have to stay within the range of that rope.
So, why am I writing about boundaries? Because I have spent the last several days pondering them. I am participating in a weight loss Bible study with some close friends. The book we are using is great, finding the truth so the truth can set us free from our addiction to food. In the very first week of lessons, though, we are asked to start considering boundaries with food. And I’m thinking to myself, “No way, I detest boundaries, I can’t do boundaries, this is not going to work for me.”
In the past, when I have tried to create a boundary around food, I have always failed to keep it. Those failures have added up to a belief that it is beyond my capability to follow any type of boundary in any scope of my life. I’m committed to doing this study. I have friends who have committed to doing it with me. But boundaries, NO!
Well, as I read, as I prayed, as I pondered, I realized I am not boundaryless, if I can create that word. I do have several boundaries I successfully stay within. For example, when I was 18 years old, I discovered alcohol. And I drank a lot. I was drunk a lot. I went to work drunk. I passed out. I threw up. And then at 20, when I found out I was pregnant, stopped drinking. I wanted to drink but I wouldn’t risk harming my baby. That was my boundary. And after she was born, I didn’t want to raise her with an alcoholic mother so I didn’t go back to drinking even though I was sometimes drawn to it. For decades, I have not touched alcohol because I need that absolute boundary to keep me safe.
1 Corinthians 10:13 promises us we won’t be tempted beyond what we can bear and that the Lord will provide a way out. When I am tempted to drink, I pray and the Lord helps me move on from that temptation. Same thing when I drive by a casino. I went to a casino once. Not good. I spent every cent I had with me. I was a single mom so I only had $13.00 but I saw the potential. I have never been back. I keep a boundary from gambling because it’s dangerous for me. There are actually several boundaries I keep because they are unsafe for me in one way or another.
I look at this picture and I see peace. Not rebellion but peace. I see safe sheep waiting for their master to lead them. I see them grazing without fear on the provisions found within their boundary. They aren’t questioning whether the grass is greener on the other side of their fence. They are just enjoying their side. Within their limits is where they grow strong.
I crave peace and calm like is shown in this picture. Can I find that peace within a boundary? I sure haven’t found it outside of it. For this study, I have to consider what boundary I need around food, a boundary that I will stay within for the rest of my life. Like maybe never having sweets again. Or maybe just having them once a month. I have to pray and figure out what boundary will keep me safe from the addiction I have to sugar. What boundary will be most likely to keep me in God’s will instead of my own.
If I’m living within my boundary, I have to consider what can pull me out to the unsafe world on the other side? That’s where Romans 12:2 comes in for me. I have to renew my mind in order to be transformed. Renewing my mind right now means I have to see the lies in my life and replace them with truth. It’s a lie that I can succeed and flourish in life without any boundaries. The truth is that I can only overcome my food addiction and flourish within the safety of boundaries. I don’t know what those boundaries look like yet. I know what the rebellion looks like and I feel the damage within my body and mind every single day I continue to rebel.
Some rebellion is good. Don’t get me wrong. We can’t live our entire life within safe boundaries. Sometimes, we have to push through our fences in order to grow. Going into the mission field would be the best example I can think of. Leaving the safe boundaries of the United States to go to a Muslim country to be a witness. You have to be a rebel to be willing to take that risk.
I also think of the difference between being in the world and being of the world. We are in the world, yes, that is our home right now. But we don’t have to be doing all the same things as the world is doing, especially when what the world is doing is pointing away from God. So, we rebel against parts of the world in order to live godly lives. Our boundaries have to be God’s boundaries, not man’s.
Back to my rebellion and my boundaries. My rebellion has gotten me into this trouble with food. I’m thinking finding those boundaries makes a lot more sense now. I’m going to have to pray and experiment to find the perfect fence to live within successfully. But as long as I stay within the truth, I will know rebellion will not heal me, but boundaries with food will help along with letting God protect and lead me. I will find that peace I crave within God’s will for me.
How about you? Do you have the same struggle with rebellion and maybe need some safe and peaceful boundaries? Won’t you pray and open your heart up to hear God’s voice helping you to find the truth that will set you free? And God’s strength to keep you within those boundaries? Seems like an oxymoron to find freedom in boundaries but I think that is the truth for us. May God give you wisdom on your journey as He is giving me wisdom on mine.