Several events have happened in the last few weeks that made me realise that with the business of everyday life, the boundaries that I thought were established were either no longer existent or my personal space was being encroached to an extremely uncomfortable level.
What prompted me to share on the issue of boundaries is mainly because I for one found that while I never had a problem with saying “NO”, the older I got for the sake of ‘peace’ I would say yes but I would secretly be complaining and moaning in my heart about how I really didn’t want to do such and such. Then obviously soon after, I would repent and then think about what Colossians 3 says. It’s a difficult thing to constantly battle oneself, fighting the preference of rather declining a request but then being quite honest with myself in thinking – “Mmm if it was me I would appreciate a yes”. You see my quandary.
It wasn’t until the following happened that I finally said ENOUGH is ENOUGH:
A relative of mine who is fairly close called me one Saturday afternoon while I was having my hair done. She asked if I could come and collect her to take her to her nephew’s house. Now initially I thought it was a request for the next day or the following weekend which would have been perfectly reasonable. No she wanted me to drop everything and come to her house at that point in time because it was convenient for her to go and visit in that moment. Yes, my eyes opened wider as I told her I was sorry but I would not be able to be her personal chauffeur because I was busy. I then politely told her that in future, she should make her requests in advance as I actually have a life and am unable to just drop my plans when it suited her.
Now as you all know when you are at the salon, everyone pretends not to listen to your conversation especially when they can tell you mean business.
Said relative then proceeded to whine and complain and said ‘Well what am I supposed to do?’ I proceeded to tell that she would just have to wait till the following weekend. Seriously! – I was sure her visit to her nephew’s wasn’t urgent and alternatively, she could find another way to get there.
The conversation ended abruptly with said relative obviously in shock that I had said NO.
It was extremely liberating to say no. It was at this point that I had a light bulb moment and it dawned on me that I had stopped enforcing the boundaries that I cherished so dearly.
Several years ago I heard TD Jakes say: People treat you the way you treat yourself. When I heard this statement my initial reaction was “WOW that’s so true!” This statement has resonated with me and is a constant reminder to myself that I determine the boundaries I set or lack thereof.
I did go through bouts of guilt where I felt perhaps I should have just taken her. But the more I thought about the importance of respecting myself and my time, the more liberated I felt from having made a decision I was happy with. With time, the guilt disappeared.
In translating the importance of boundaries to other areas of my life, I have definitely taken more control. I can say for sure tha,t before I commit to doing something, I check my heart to ensure that it isn’t an obligatory action which results in my grumbling all the way through. I’m working at managing expectations, and establishing boundaries such that it no longer resent people or their actions especially when it begins to feel a little like my efforts aren’t appreciated.
The scripture below has helped me to enforce the necessary boundaries:
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.
What I am learning is that there is no formula to ensuring you have boundaries in place but one thing is for sure – boundaries are necessary! It’s a process and will take time as it requires being brutally honest with yourself; which is always the first step to ensuring that as you respect yourself, others will follow suit.