As we continue to learn from the Laws of Boundaries presented in the book Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. In chapter 5, a comical example of what it might be like if an alien came to earth and how similar that is to our beginnings here on earth.  This week we continue in chapter 5, learning more about the laws of boundaries and how we have obeyed and also questioned and maybe even broken some of the laws.

Law #3 The Law of Power

In recovery, the belief of powerlessness is discussed openly.

We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors. That our lives had become unmanageable. – Step 1

This approach to life can be taken out of context and actually abused in sinful ways. Some believe and state that if they are powerless, then they don’t have to be responsible.

Though we do not have the power in and of ourself to overcome the sinful patterns of the world, we do have the power to to the things that bring fruits of victory later:

We have the ability to agree with the truth about our problems. (Get out of denial).

We have the power to submit our in ability to God.(Surrender to the one that does have the power)

We have the power to search and ask God and others to reveal more and more about what is within our boundaries. (discipleship)

We do have the power to turn from evil that we find within us. We can’t be perfect, but we can grow in Christ more and more each day.

We have the power to humble ourself and ask God and others to help us with our developmental injuries and leftover childhood needs. (discipleship & accountability)

We have the power to seek out those we have hurt and make amends.

Which power(s) listed surprise you? Which one(s) encourage you? Which one(s) intimidate you?

Which one of the powers do you need to consciously begin to exercise and put in place?

Besides, clarifying what we do have power over, boundaries help define what we do not have power over – everything outside of them! We can work on submitting ourself to the process of clarifying our boundaries and on working with God to change us. We cannot change anything else: not the weather, the past, the economy, and especially not other people.

What sources of worry are outside your boundaries?

Whom have you been trying to change?

What can you do to positively influence those people instead of trying to change them?

What can you do to change yourself – specifically, your way of dealing with them – so that their destructive patterns no longer work on you?

We need the wisdom to know what is us and what is not us. We need to pray for the wisdom to know the difference between what we have the power to change and what we do not. Use the serenity prayer often:

God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change.
The courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace;
Taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is; Not as I would have it;
Trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Law #4: The Law of Respect

When we think about setting boundaries and trying to live by them, we fear that others will not respect them. We focus on others and lose clarity about ourselves (p.91)

Sometimes the problem is that we judge other people’s boundaries. The bible warns us about judging others and what the consequences are…

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. – Matthew 7:1-2

When we judge others’ boundaries, our will fall under the same judgment. If we condemn other’s boundaries, we can expect them to condemn ours. (p.92).

Do any of the following statements sound familiar?

“How could he refuse to come by and pick me up? It’s right on his way! He could find some ‘time alone’ some other time.”

“Why is she always seem critical?”

“What do you mean, ‘no’? I just need the money for a little while.”

“It seems that, after all I do for you, you could at least do me this one little favor.”

Which kinds of thoughts/judgments have you had about other people’s boundaries?

Why does this perspective on other people’s boundaries make it difficult to set our own boundaries?

With whom have you been caught up in this fear cycle and therefore been afraid to set the boundaries you need to set? With whom do you comply rather than set boundaries?

This is where the Law of Respect comes in:
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.– Matthew 7:12

When you feel like someone have either violated your boundary or ignored your boundary, can you see where this might be fueled by your respect of their boundaries?

We need to respect the boundaries of others in order to earn respect for our own boundaries. We need to treat their boundaries the way we want ours treated.

Whose boundaries do you need to have more respect for?

Call to Action

In the last couple of sessions we have learned about and been challenged by 4 simple to read laws about boundaries:

  1. Law of Sowing and Reaping
  2. Law of Responsibility
  3. Law of Power
  4. Law of Respect

Take time this week to reflect on these and reserve a time to see which laws are impacting your current life situations.  Don’t just side-step the laws, but also put them in action.  It is a two way interaction; our engagement with others and their boundaries as well as how we establish our boundaries and probably the most challenging, how we respond to other’s engagement with our boundaries.