Boundaries – Cloud and Townsend, Part 2: Book Review

Examples of Boundaries

In a Women’s Group I attend, we are considering the book ‘Boundaries’ (Cloud and Townsend). I have already been impressed with the simple truths behind the information and instruction it gives. The following is a summary of the second section we have read (Pages 33-38), which gives examples of boundaries. (You can read the review of Part 1 here)*.

Skin

Skin is the boundary of your physical self – your body is your property.

Words

“Yes” and “No” are boundaries – this theme runs throughout the Bible. We are told we need to confront people who are overstepping the limits of our boundaries – this is love! (Matt 18:15-20). We are warned not to do things compulsively (2 Cor 9:7). We need to be able to say no when something is more than we can give. A “should do” attitude is not healthy or productive. The pressure, which causes reluctant giving, can be external (other people’s expectations) or internal (our own expectations).

Our words communicate to others our boundaries. It’s hard for people to know what our personal boundaries are if we haven’t clearly expressed them. Consolidating our boundaries into words can also be beneficial, internally, as sometimes we aren’t consciously aware of them ourselves.

Truth

Boundaries are FREEING, as they define TRUTH. They remove insecurity and dependence on the wrong things, and ground us on the things which are immovably correct. We can define ourselves by the truth of who we are within God’s plan. Living by these realities makes for a better life (Psalm 119:2,45).

Geographical Distance

Proverbs 22:3 says a prudent man hides himself from evil. Removing ourselves from people or situations which continually hurt us is wise and strategic in creating space for healing, and for the offending party to realise the impact of their actions (Matthew 18:17-18, 1 Cor. 5:11-13).

Time

“Time off” from a person or project provides space to regain ownership of your boundaries and put things into perspective.

Emotional Distance

Sometimes it is necessary to guard your heart from hurt by creating emotional distance from someone who is hurting you. Sometimes, people allow someone to continually abuse them, in the name of forgiveness, but this isn’t biblical or healthy. We can forgive a person their actions, while also protecting ourselves from further pain until the offending party actually shows action in accordance with remorse (or ‘fruits meet for repentance’, Luke 3:8).

Other People

A good support group can provide the strength to make and retain boundaries. Knowing we are not alone, and that love can come from many sources, can help us conquer the fear of conflict or loss (which we may feel that standing up for our boundaries will bring). Good, biblical-based support will assist people to understand that there is no guilt in defending ourselves against hurt.

Consequences

The Bible teaches the principle of natural consequences repeatedly, clearly defining and giving examples of the outcomes of particular decisions over others. Consequences are essential in helping others know when they have overstepped our boundaries. Consequences communicate that a lack of respect for our personal property is serious and not acceptable. It clearly attaches ‘cause’ to ‘effect’ and therefore puts the trespasser in a position of responsibility for their choices.

*Recommended Further Reading: ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ – S. Covey.
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