So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herders and mine, for we are close relatives. Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.” (Genesis 13:8-9)
This is the season when cutting people off gets real! I must be honest with you. I haven’t had to cut anyone off, but I’ve had to learn how to let people go. It’s been hard for me; but I do understand that God was teaching me how to establish boundaries. I was once told by a close friend that I was too guarded. In an attempt to be accepted by all (people pleasing syndrome), I decided to let my guard down. Doing so, I let some people into my secret place and I was robbed of things I treasured most, such as peace, focus, and confidence. As a result, I found myself distracted by the disagreements and stagnant in my walk with God.
Boundaries are healthy and great for protecting the things we love most. Boundaries are like passcodes that you don’t give out to everyone you meet. Boundaries are like the key that you give to a close friend in case you get locked out of your house. And when boundaries are crossed you change the passcode; you take your key back and change the locks. Boundaries separate the best friend from the pizza man at the door. Everyone can’t come in. Also. boundaries teach you to accept when it’s time to let go.
I am reminded of a message that God gave me at the beginning of the year:
Sometimes you must keep a healthy distance in order to maintain a healthy relationship. Abram and Lot were close relatives; but the land couldn't hold both of their possessions which caused quarrels amongst their herders. I believe Abram exercised wisdom when he advised that he and Lot should part company. Abram had to be ok with letting Lot go in a different direction. Abram did something that many of us fail to do. He established boundaries. It appears Abram knew that if he and Lot did not have proper boundaries between them, at some point, someone was going to get cut off, or literally, get cut. This didn't stop him from interceding for Lot. Even after they went their separate ways, Abram (Abraham) pleaded with God to save Lot from the destruction of Sodom.
There will be some people that you absolutely love; but, for whatever reason, if you're together too long it causes tension. Maybe you both have big personalities and the space you're in just can't hold the both of you. Maybe you're overly confident in an area that the other person is extremely insecure in. Maybe the areas where they have freedom cause you to stumble. Long story short, sometimes it is best to love from afar so you can remain in love.
Boundaries are based on values, goals, and growth. The first thing you must value is your relationship with God and your love for yourself. This is why we’ve been encouraging you to establish a time for devotion and time to do something that you love every day. You must know what you like and dislike to understand what boundaries make sense for you. Self-love is not to be confused with being selfishness. Self-loves means you accept what is healthy for you even when it’s something you don’t want. Selfishness is typically driven by one’s wants while self-love is driven by one’s needs.
Time with God and self-love combined will reveal to you what you value most and help you to build goals around those things. This is what enables us to grow. But when you don’t have boundaries, your values, goals, and growth are now at risk of being violated. When you set boundaries for yourself, you tend to respect the boundaries of others. I’ve noticed that people who don’t establish boundaries for themselves often don’t see anything wrong with crossing yours. They also don’t understand when you say things like “I can’t talk right now” or “No.”
Earlier, I said that I didn’t cut anyone off, but I had to let a few people go. That means I am ok if people have to go in a different direction if respecting what I value becomes a conflict of interest. It has not been easy because again, the love is still there; but the boundaries are necessary to maintain the love. We don’t have to cut people off in order to accept that we are not going the same way. We must be careful not to let disagreements distract us from our call nor should they be used to discredit the call of someone else. As we move into the new year, I pray that you understand the blessing in boundaries and self-love. I pray that the way you love yourself will empower you to love others in a way that respects their needs as well. Always choose health over hate.
Reflect on what boundaries you need to establish moving into the new year. Are there any relationships that can potentially become a conflict of interest if you don’t establish boundaries now? What boundaries do you need to set for yourself based on your values and goals? For example:
If your goal is to lose 10 lbs. you may need to establish a boundary between you and fast food.
If you value time with family and your goal is to spend more quality time with them, you may need to establish boundaries between you and social media, or the television.
If you value a particular friendship but you often get irritated by the other person, you may need to establish boundaries in how you communicate.
That’s all for today. By the way, the challenge for Day 5 was to reflect on the devotionals from days 1-4. We ask that each of you send us a testimonial that we may be able share. Please remember to do something you love. Happy seeking!
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