Almost hyperventilating with the panic of not being able to already fulfil what I'd committed to, the feeling of pressure and stress of being pulled in each person's direction overcomes me.
Yet whose fault of feeling pressurised, stressed and overused is this?
As it turns out, by saying yes to everything and everyone, it was clear that I hadn't set clear enough boundaries in the past and this was still allowing people to easily cross the line. And it didn't take much for them to keep on walking over that line. Christians are often aware of their physical limits but their emotional boundaries seem to have got lost in translation.
The 'Jesus is love' mantra rings so loudly in our heads that we forget that we have been taught to respect ourselves and be aware of our own capacity: Jesus often took himself away from the crowd to pray, the Good Samaritan didn't automatically give up his home to the beaten man, and Nehemiah didn't stop what he was doing as soon as he was asked.
And so we're not just talking about having bad boundaries with friends and family – sometimes our worst moments can be spent bending over backwards for acquaintances, who demand our time and effort – which we can end up giving begrudgingly and with resentment.
And at the detriment to those who should be given our time and effort – our family and our close friends. As Pastor Danny Silk says in an excellent podcast on the subject ('Boundaries'), we become so unsure of what our true boundaries are, that we do not honour those closest to us. We can spend time running around giving an inappropriate level of help or time to people we don't see involved in our future.
Our time consumed by allowing people to co-direct our lives without our permission. You won't end up pleasing anyone by allowing them to cross your personal line – and you might not be there to honour your true friends and your family when that happens.
Yet we do give permission to situations and to people. Do we truly know our worth if we allow our boundaries to be easily shaken? Or do we end up losing who we are and our sense of self because we are ready to drop everything for anyone at any time?
Have we gone so far that we aren't sure what our true priorities are and who our true friends are? And do we actually end up giving the impression that we don't respect ourselves? What we think we are doing out of love is done out of obligation and lack of respect for ourselves.
Because boundaries allow love to happen. Boundaries are about doing it within your capacity. We then give to people out of a heart that can say yes. When we can't say no then we are not giving our best; they are just dragging the dregs out of us.
And for some, once you finally throw that boundary down, it may be that those boundary offenders respond. Badly. If the windows and doors to the 'house' and your heart have been left open, those people have been granted free access previously. And so now, if they find the door suddenly shuts on them, you may be faced with a confused and hurt person.
People have a choice in how they respond to this newly locked house and heart. However laying new boundaries down is not about changing them but changing your response and managing their expectations.
So how does it feel setting some boundaries down? Does it bring feelings of guilt and needing to lengthily explain why you can't do something/be there/help? If all of the above then it's boundary making time! The only person you end up letting down is you…as you drift further away from the people it is right to honour, giving more time and effort to those who push as much as they can get.
By identifying those people and situations that push your boundaries, we put 'guardrails' in place to protect ourselves, as Joyce Meyer calls them - to keep us from tottering off the edge. Don't let the enemy deprive you of your self worth!
By believing the lies of the enemy we can be turned into contemporary Marthas. We prioritise tending to everyone's needs, and the energy and life is sucked out of us to the point where we have nothing left to give to the loved ones around us and our self-worth is shot.
You can find Danny Silk's podcast on Boundaries here: itunes.apple.com
Originally from The Lake District in the UK, Amanda works in Publishing in Auckland and is passionate about seeing Christians bring salt and light into the media, arts and creative industries. She is also working on fighting her FOMO and doing less. Amanda wrote this article from London when on holidays.
Amanda Robinson's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/amanda-robinson.html