Part 4: Laws of Boundaries
We have heard of the law of gravity. We can try deny its existence, but does that change anything? We can give all kinds of arguments as to why it doesn’t exist or at least not for you, but what is going to happen the moment you step off that cliff? That law is going to take effect and you are going to quickly meet reality.
We may be able to claim ignorance the law of gravity, especially when we were younger, but does that exempt us from it? It doesn’t any more than a police officer giving us a ticket for driving 45 mph in a 35 mph zone, even if we did not realize that it was only 35 mph. Not knowing is not an excuse.
When considering our relationships, there are some laws that God has set in place concerning boundaries. We need to be aware of these laws because they are in place whether we realize them or not and there are consequences of not following them. Let’s look at the “Ten Laws of Boundaries” as defined by authors Cloud and Townsend:
- The law of sowing and reaping: Our actions have consequences. (Galatians 6:7-8).
- The law of responsibility: We are responsible to each other but not for each other. (Philippians 2:12-13, John 15:12).
- The law of power: We have power over some things but we are NOT to have power over people. (Romans 7:15-23).
- The law of respect: If we want others to respect our boundaries, we must respect theirs. (Matthew 7:12, 2 Corinthians 3:17).
- The law of motivation: The motivation of our heart affects the way we make decisions about boundaries. (2 Corinthians 9:7)
- The law of evaluation: We must evaluate the effects of setting boundaries and be responsible to the other person. (Proverbs 15:5, Hebrews 12:11)
- The law of pro-activity: Once we really know who we are, what our life purpose is, and what we believe about others, we are free to be proactive and take the initiative in acting positively rather than passively taking what comes our way and simply reacting to it. (Romans 4:15, Ephesians 6:4).
- The law of envy: Envy keeps us from being satisfied with what we have in life and keeps us at odds with those who have what we want but don’t have. The Bible says that envy is sin. (Ephesians 6:4)
- The law of activity: It is important to move out of passivity and consciously begin setting healthy boundaries. Many times we have a problem with setting boundaries because we lack initiative; often it is simply a matter of being emotionally or physically exhausted. (Matthew 14:22-33)
- The law of exposure: Boundaries need to be able to be seen and understood by others and should be communicated in a clear, concise, consistent and loving way. (Ephesians 4:25-26)
While it would be hard to do here, we have been taking an in-depth look at each of these laws with the parents and the girls and reflecting how each one has had an impact in their relationships with each other. There are a few, however that I do want to touch on this time and in our next post because there are parts that are often misunderstood.
The first is The Law of Sowing and Reaping, which is our actions have consequences. God has intended for us to learn from the consequence or effects of our decisions. For example, you walk outside on a cold day without a coat, you end up being cold and next time you will hopefully wear a coat. We can also interrupt this law and not allow people to learn from the consequences of their decisions. We reap what they sow.
We let our teen open a checking account to teach financial responsibility, but we bail them out when the overdraw their account because they were not recording everything in the ledger. By not letting them work with the bank, we interfere with the consequences and teach them that we will bail them out when they fail. We are reaping what they have sown and we are reaping what we have sown.
We set out with good intentions thinking that we are supporting them, but we are really harming them by not allowing them to learn and solve problems. Somewhere along the line, many parents began believing their role is to help kids grow up with as few challenges and failures as possible. Parents have become so overprotective that their kids never practice dealing with challenges and failures on their own. This can cause kids to grow up not knowing how to cope with the realities of life. Your support role is to help them learn how to make good decisions, not make the decisions for them or clean up their messes. They may not be happy at that particular moment, but there will not be resentment in the end.
Can you think of a time in your life where you have reaped what you have sown? Was it a positive or negative consequence?
Can you think of a time when you interrupted the law of sowing and reaping? What were the results?