I walked through the garage door and crumpled directly onto the nearest piece of furniture. I laid there in silence for a few minutes knowing it was too good to be true. Seconds later I heard the 15 minute warning alarm go off on my phone alerting me of my next meeting. Three more dings sounded as I received text messages followed by another few dings screaming at me to answer my emails. I laid still hoping the world would leave me alone for a few minutes. Then my dog jumped onto my stomach as she demonstrated her excitement to see me and her need to be let outside. Ahh... why don't we have a dog door?! I heard the garage door open signaling my husbands arrival. I pulled myself off of the couch and lifted my heavy feet to walk to the door. I was greeted with a kiss and a "what's for dinner?" "Really.... really!?!" I snapped back, " Well I guess it is whatever you are going to be making. I am not sure where you got the idea that I have to make you dinner. You know that I have a meeting in a few minutes then I'll be up late studying. You know it is midterms this week. I can't believe how selfish you can be. Oh and don't think I'll be cleaning up a mess from dinner either!" Bam.. take that! My husband just looked back at me with a strange look on his face. The release didn't feel good for long... it was followed by extreme guilt. Ah... I can't believe I just did that!
Is this really the wife that I had become? The wife who yells at her husband the minute he walks in the door about something that really wasn't a big deal. He has never told me I had to make him dinner nor has he complained when I didn't. Wow... I really didn't understand what happened because I was never really mad at him for anything. I was overwhelmed, exhausted, and the thought of another expectation taking me into a different direction made me crazy. My bulging schedule couldn't handle all of the things I had said yes to. While no I am not very proud of this interaction with my husband I am thankful for it because it pushed me into making some serious changes and setting some much needed boundaries.
Boundaries... what a complex thought! Think of boundaries like the fence in the picture.. it keeps things in and out. Out here in the middle of nowhere we have fence all over. It defines our property line and protects our personal possession. It keeps people off of our property if they aren't supposed to be there. It tells the world "this is mine and you must have permission before you come on our land." Relational/personal boundaries are exactly the same. They tell the world what we are willing to let in (what we put up with) and who we are. Boundaries are necessary for a healthy person to interact with their environment. If we didn't have a fence no one would know where our property starts and ends and people would use our stuff for whatever they wanted.
Similarly, when our personal boundaries are weak we take on more than we should, we tell people whatever we think they want to hear, we let people walk all over us, we lose ourselves in our obligations, and we becomes fearful, stressed out, and on the verge of a meltdown all of the time. I saw this play out in the above situation. I hadn't stood up for myself to anyone and when I finally did it was directed at the wrong person. I let my schedule and other people control my life. I didn't want to say no so instead I said yes to everything I thought would make other people happy.
2 Peter 1:5-9 says, As you get a better understanding you will be able to say no when you need to... you will keep from being of no use and having no fruit when it comes to knowing Lord Jesus Christ. This scripture really spoke to me. I should and have to say no!! Any people pleaser knows that saying no is hard. I feel bad when I say no and it is uncomfortable. Unless I want to live my life ran by those around me I have to say no and mean it! I don't have to explain myself to death about it either. No is an answer that doesn't need to be elaborated. No can be the final word. I don't have to say no and then go into a long drawn out reason why I decided no was the right answer for me. No is no, the end! When I don't practice saying no as the scripture says I will have no fruit when it comes to knowing Jesus Christ. I can go through the motions but since I am performing out of obligation it is disingenuous. I can either do a million things poorly or do a few things really well.
So, I set some boundaries. I said no and pruned my life. It hasn't been easy and gosh it is uncomfortable to say no. For me it has taken a long time and it is still a work in progress. Along the way I've found that when I say yes to the things that I find important I am better at them and I actually enjoy the time I spend on them more! Also, I've began to realize how much control I gave to everyone around me and honestly they weren't being very respectful of my boundaries. However, it isn't the world's job to respect my boundaries if I am not going to enforce them myself. Its no one else's fault but my own. As I am moving through different stages in my life I am trying to keep focus on my boundaries and I am trying to make sure they are properly employed at the needed time. I'm hoping this gets to be second nature at some point! Just like how the fence on everyone's property is different so is everyone's personal boundaries. I can't tell you what boundaries you must set but what I can suggest is for you to do some digging and find out what you really want in your life. What is important to you and what is worth your time? What isn't? Starting there might help make saying no easier for you too.