I have struggled with boundaries my whole life. I have tried to be the "nice" girl. I have clung to the "it's what Jesus would do" frame of mind. And while I think Jesus had plenty of boundaries, we'll save that post for another day.
I had my babies when I was really young, while my high school friends went off to college, I settled into a one bedroom apartment with my love and started making pies and babies. I am so thankful for that path. I am thankful for the moments when we had no money and the rooms smelled of breastmilk and baby soap.
But there was a struggle inside me even then. I wanted to "just be a mom" and yet there were people who pulled at me, who tried to tell me it wasn't enough. Who thought that I should want for more. And because I didn't know my boundaries, I couldn't set them for others.
The thing about boundaries is that if you don't set them in your life someone else will. It's not their fault for pushing you, it's yours for allowing it. I'm not trying to instill unneeded guilt. I'm simply tell you what I learned the hard way.
I allowed their words to settle into my heart and my mind. I started to think that I needed more, that my husband should be more, that my kids needed more. I started to falter and sway. The lines became blurred and my discontent rose.
I also had this crazy belief that I needed to "save" everyone who needed me. I allowed them to call at all hours of the day and night, I put a cracker in my child's hand to keep them satisfied while I put on my cape and tried to save the world. I truly believe that a friend in tears meant life or death, and that if I didn't show up they would wither and die. It became too much to carry. I crashed and burned, I withered and almost drowned. Not to mention that my world, my babies, and my marriage were faltering.
And in it I learned what a boundary was. I'd always thought that it meant a rule, and in my mind rules are meant to be broken. But it's not a rule, it's a circle around yourself that brings peace to your heart and world. It's the knowing what your spirit is capable of. It's knowing that it's not your job to save everyone. You're called to a piece of work, but the world doesn't all rest in your hands. You're only responsible for your part and I'm only responsible for mine.
I find myself needing to be reminded of this every once in a while. I've gained strides in knowing when to drop everything and run to the aid of a friend, but I've also learned that there are times to when it's okay to let the phone ring, let the email sit unanswered or to simply say " I'm sorry for your struggle" and to let them sort things out.
Sometimes you've given them a bigger gift in that, than in trying to solve it all. There is a powerful thing in letting go. You're giving a gift to yourself AND often times it goes beyond you.
I think it's time to recognize what I'm called to. And to lay down what I'm not. It doesn't mean you're weak, it means you know where you want to go and who's supposed to come along with you. It means there are people who will jump in an walk along side you and those who you want to walk alongside.
My definition of a boundary is no longer "a rule" it's where the sand means the sea. Sometimes you're called to walk along the shore and feel the sand beneath your feet. Sometimes you're called to swim in the deep, to run into the waves and to immerse yourself in the salt water. Neither is more right than the other, it's just knowing what you're called to and when. It's being in touch with the whispering within.