Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Boundaries Part 4

As I read chapter 4 of Boundaries, I was really struck by one major concept that, while it makes total sense, I'd never really thought about before, and that is how children should be (but obviously aren't always) taught boundaries by their parents and that these same boundaries can begin to be established from extremely young ages of development. Boundaries help define an individual to themselves and to others.

But then Cloud and Townsend make a really good point that is kind of frustrating at the same time--"You can't develop or set boundaries apart from supportive relationships with God and with others." What, then, happens to the non-Christian who has no relationship with God and no supportive relationships with others? How lost they must feel.

"Our deepest need is to be belong, to be in a relationship, to have a spiritual and emotional 'home.' The very nature of God is to be in a relationship: 'God is love' says 1 John 4:16. Love means relationship - the caring, committed connection of one individual to another....We are built for relationship. Attachment is the foundation of the souls' existence. When this foundation is cracked or faulty, boundaries become impossible to develop...[because] when we lack relationship, we have nowhere to go in a conflict...[and] we are forced to choose between two bad options:
1. We set limits and risk losing a relationship...
2. We don't set limits and remain a prisoner to the wishes of others."

What a choice to have to make: Do you want loneliness or oppression?

The authors', very early on in the chapter, define the intentioned meaning of Proverbs 22:6 ("Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not turn from it"). "The way he should go" is defined as God's way and not the way parents think a child should go. I know I've been blessed by parents who, I feel, have not forced me into going any particular way just because they felt it was what they wanted to see me do but rather taught me to seek God's will and then encouraged me in following through on that (even when it meant letting a barely 14 year old girl go to Uzbekistan for nearly 3 months with five Thai Buddhists to further her ballet training!). Were my parents perfect? No. (Sorry, Mum!). However, from my observations of the many people with whom I've had contact since I first stepped into the adult arena of my life, I can clearly see the damage that has been done by those who were given even less or no development of boundaries.

And then I have to pray that when Chris and I start our own family, may God help us to actually help establish these boundaries in our children's lives....because they are vital.

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