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Finding Abundant Life In Boundaries


Freedom in Boundaries

My dog is a sweet, white fluff ball that keeps us laughing until she thinks another dog is approaching her possessions—namely us—then she turns into a vicious, small attack dog. To break this bondage of fear within her, we are having to retrain our own behaviors and set boundaries. She is a lap dog who, for her own wellbeing, can no longer jump up on our level.

Maggie equates our love and affection with position over us. The truth is she is our pet. She cannot roam free in our personal space; the sleeping quarters, where we eat, and furniture is off limits. The boundaries we are setting are very unnerving for her. She snorts at us when we get up and turn our back to her in response to her misbehaviors. But when she calms, we play and praise her. Boundaries help her recognize she is secure at her position of pet. All this retraining is difficult, and from the outside may look silly. But, when you think of her guarding behavior as a life and death situation, the little inconvenience becomes a necessity. If Maggie bares her teeth at the wrong dog, she’s done. She loses, not only her possessions, but her life.

Boundaries are just as necessary in human relationships. Friends, family, and our spouse thrive through knowing whose we are and what we stand for. Parents begin setting boundaries from the moment we enter the world. Yes, we get to dictate some of our life by crying and letting those who love us know our needs, but we are dependent upon their response to those needs. Where our parents end and we begin is a boundary. As we discover the world, we often put ourselves in danger and therefore, our parents who love us discipline and teach us what is safe and unsafe. We can choose to accept those boundaries or put ourselves in harm’s way by stepping out of their loving limits.

For some of us, boundaries become a jumbled mess because of the brokenness and sinfulness of others. My boundaries were violated repeatedly from an early age, so I had a very warped perspective on setting limits. I waffled between keeping my distance and letting others walk all over me. I had no idea how to be a friend, or what a healthy relationship looked like because I hadn’t really experience one.