You know you have a problem with boundaries when you say yes to a 10 pm text requesting a meeting first thing next morning. You say yes even though it’s the last thing you want to do because this person wants you, and this makes you feel important and needed.
You lie in bed with your husband, and say, “I don’t want to go to that meeting.” He says, “Then don’t.” It’s an electric shock to your reeling brain. Someone outside your head has to tell you, “It’s ok to say no. Reschedule at a time that works for you.”
Good for you, honey, but there’s a better way to live.
You need permission, because you are a people pleaser, superwoman, and work-a-holic all wrapped into a smiling, stressed out package.
You are always obligated.
You let someone’s last minute request worry you into a tizzy like you ate a large pepperoni pizza all by your little lonesome. Good for you, honey, but there’s a better way to live.
The you is really me. I actually went to the meeting and then said yes (at that unwanted meeting) to another weekly meeting—not on my radar. Ugh.
I went home, got anxious: Then I said no.
Saying yes for all the wrong reasons often feels worse than disappointing someone you care about. Tweet This
I was lying to both of us by saying I wanted to be there. So I risked her disappointment and cancelled.
Recently I heard a counselor compare a healthy boundary to the white picket fence around her yard. She gets to choose who and what she let’s in. It’s ok to invite a few people in and keep others on the outside.
I heard this and bristled like a porcupine. Aren’t we supposed to love everyone like Jesus with open arms? The more I thought about it, the more I realized I have a severe problem with boundaries.
Most of the time I don’t realize I’m saying yes to all these well-meaning, noble causes and people. But these days, I recognize it when I get a pit in my stomach or my heart feels heavy. I thought about all of my half-hearted yeses, my writing schedule that felt like shackles because I was agreeing to meetings I didn’t want, and how I missed cooking a real dinner, which I hadn’t done in months. No wonder I was losing my joy.
We aren’t making outrageous claims here. We’re sticking to the limits of what God has set for us. 2 Corinthians 10:13a (MSG)
Paul is talking boundaries in this verse: we can do our best when we stay within God’s fences for us today. He uses His people perfectly right where we are, then He can expand our borders and stretch His kingdom through us in unimaginable ways. (2 Corinthians 10:13b-18 MSG)
The night I heard those words from the counselor, I sat down at Chipotle with a basket of crispy steak tacos and scrawled my new work schedule on the back of my son’s artwork (the only piece of paper pulled from the deep dark depths of my mom purse.) Here’s what I wrote:
6:30 a.m. COFFEE + GOD
7:00 a.m Get ready + kids off to school
9:00 a.m. YOGA
9:30 a.m. Write
12:00 p.m. EAT slowly
1:00 p.m. Write
3:00 WALK AT PARK (AKA buffer time before post-school kid chaos)
4-8 Kids, homework, dinner, etc.
8:30 Relax (hubby time, good book, bath, watch a show, etc. and only non-blog social media)
P.S. Write long-hand. Slow down. Embrace imperfection.
I wrote this in my blue-lined composition notebook because I needed to make room for life-giving essentials like:
- Bake muffins.
- Walk by a lake.
- Call a friend.
- Handwrite a thank you letter.
- Actually cook dinner and sip a glass of wine.
- Always say, “I’ll think about it before saying ‘yes.’”
- Don’t speak to the children before 7 a.m., if at all possible.
Some weeks my essentials are simply:
- Take shower
- Clean toilets
This is ok. This is called real life. This means 4.5 hours of writing instead of 8-9.
I want a present life: less doing, more being. Tweet This
God wants to expand our borders, to say YES to new adventures, but He wants us do our best work within the perfect boundaries He has given us.
I’m happy to tell you my friend was cool with me rescheduling. But even if she wasn’t, I learned only God’s favor matters.
I’m surprised at how words and joy are flowing more readily these days. I have energy for the people and tasks God brings me in the moment, and I am learning slowly that God is taking care of all the no’s just fine without me.
How do you set boundaries to make room for the life-giving essentials?
Read more posts from the Thanks, but No Thanks Series here.