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Tag Archives: healthy boundaries

10 Ways to Recognize Safe Counsel

10 Ways to Recognize Safe CounselThere are people in my life who have earned the right to be blunt, honest, offering constructive criticism and feedback, and I receive it because of history, trust, love, and mutual understanding.

On the other hand, there are other folks who regularly cross that line and yet have not earned that place in my life or space in my head. I may love them deeply, but they speak from insecurity, negativity, and/or a lack of self-control. They are not voices God wants me to let in.

Along those lines, I frequently tell my children:

“People who put you down do not deserve space in your head and heart. Be kind but don’t engage. You are worth more than the voices of insecure speakers in your life—and I am too.” 

It’s a hard call at times, isn’t it? We should be open to feedback, but some folks are not healthy enough to offer it safely.

Know what I mean?

As I “grow up” in Christ, I am learning more and more that there are some voices I need to shut out and others that should be let in. I am growing in the discipline of asking God first: “Lord, she is saying this. Is this true? Is it from You? Should I take heed or put through Your filter and discard?”

God loves us so incredibly as a parent that He wants us to hear correction safely, gently, and with grace. And voices that don’t reflect His tender care need to be checked in with Him. For that matter, all voices do. Sometimes I have been caught in the web of someone’s honey offering when really they were simply waiting to build trust so they could crush it with unkindness.

Because we lack the ability to see other people’s motives, we must consult God and trust in His protection.

One of my favorite Proverbs on this topic is the entirety of Proverbs 4, a beautiful message written from King Solomon (son of King David) to his sons. Consider the wisdom here. There are at least 10 amazing guiding principles in the way the father counsels his children. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Healthy Boundaries: Loving People With “No”

HEALTHY BOUNDARIES- Loving People With %22No%22Recently, I’ve found myself saying “no” more frequently. Admittedly, when we go through difficult seasons, we definitely draw more inward and limit our interactions and involvement. That’s a normal response when we need more mental and emotional energy to process the harder parts of life.

Even so, I’m becoming more comfortable with “no” and finding it to be another way to love people. For one, it’s being honest about ourselves instead of making false promises. Good intentions are a beautiful thing, but when we regularly can’t carry them through, we become people who disappoint.

In child-raising or managing employees, “no” can be a friendly word that clearly delineates where the guardrails and boundaries are before they are accidentally (or intentionally) crossed. Children tend to feel secure when they know expectations; this is also true in the workplace.

So why are relationships so difficult?

Why do we struggle at times to place down a healthy “no” in our closer relationships?

Is it because: Read the rest of this entry »

 

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5 Reasons to Lick a Shut-up-sicle (and 5 Reasons Not To)

5 Reasons to Lick a Shut-up-sicleEcclesiastes 3:1,7, ESV, King Solomon speaking

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak…

Years ago, a dear friend, trusted mentor, and fellow editor introduced me to a word with which I simply cannot part ways: shut-up-sicle. Once I wrapped my mouth around that powerful little descriptor, I was on my way to any and all usage possible. It fits so many situations, doesn’t it?

“Why don’t you lick a shut-up-sicle already?”

“Oh, man, I might need to pass out the shut-up-sicles today. Everyone is talking at once.”

“Sure wish I had brought my shut-up-sicle with me. I said more than I had planned to.” 

Yeah, such a beautiful word. I’ll admit some possible uses can be a bit unkind, so I’m not recommending them. [Smile.] Today, I’m really thinking more in terms of my own need to grab one and lick it at a slow pace. When we have nothing left to say and/or whatever swirls through the filter of thoughts is better left unexpressed, the most challenging approach to a perplexing situation or problem can be to simply

shut up.

Several times in different scenarios in my life I had reached a point where I did all I could do, and God was not telling me to move forward. He was calling me into a period of shutting my mouth. I know it was Him because He confirmed it with Scripture, sent godly counsel to affirm it, and gently put my mouth to sleep.

What I mean by that last part is that, Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Responding With Honeycomb and Health

Responding With Honeycomb and HealthI read it right before finishing preparations for a talk I was going to give to a group of moms at a local church. I was also in the middle of praying for my father and seeing how his cancer treatment went that day.

It was an unnecessary and petty distraction, a message sent with absolutely no other purpose than to make trouble where, as far as I knew, there wasn’t any to date. In my own personal book of boundaries, it crossed several lines, but more than that, there was no recognizable good intention within it. I’m limited in my perspective, obviously. I don’t have God’s eyes. From where I was sitting, however, it was right up there in the Book of the Absurd or Ridiculous, and it could have flamed old fires of aggravation.

Know that familiar scenario?

The one where other people want to stir our pot?  

Where they can’t leave well enough alone? 

Where they insert themselves somewhere they don’t belong?

This same scenario, with a few changed details and characters, has played itself out several times over my life. I’m sure from time to time we all encounter: Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Why Listening Is Part of God’s Repair

Happy September! I’m not sure where August went! Espressos of Faith is belatedly celebrating a Blogiversary! We opened up the site on August 3, 2014 and started posting August 15, 2014. I’ll never forget it because I was on vacation, and my web site manager and I said: “Okay, ready or not, here we come!” (I’ve since learned to put better margin in my life and not attempt huge undertakings while away to relax.) Not long after, by the amazing grace of God, Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day was published on October 1, 2014, a day shy of my birthday.

This summer, I’ve been keeping a weekly faith column at Your Tewksbury Today and slowed down in terms of adding content to the blog site. Personally, we had a challenging summer on several counts, and rest became a must.

In honor of a year of faithful readers, engaging conversations, and much-needed personal growth, Espressos of Faith will aim to post twice a week this month, hopefully posting a few guest bloggers along the way.

Thank you for coming alongside me and reading what my heart wants to communicate. I dedicate each post to the Great I AM, Whose hand I never want to let go of—not in the stormy seas and not even when the skies are clear and the air about me dancing with dragonflies. It’s the best hand I’ve ever held: The Warm Hand of Jesus on Cold Days of Doubt.

Blessings to you this September,
Bonnie

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Why Listening Is Part of God's Repair

Summer: A time when the family spends significant amounts of quality time together, regroups from the busy school year, checks every item off the year-in-the-making to-do list, and catches up on each other’s lives.

Sound good? Yes, yes it does.

But summer can also be a time when all problems shoved to the side by our busyness the rest of the year come rushing into that empty space like an angry brook moving so swiftly, it polishes pebbles along the way.

Only I’m the pebbles, and no matter how smooth I think I am, the water continues to force its way in and demand my attention.

Know what I mean?

We glided into July with a few weeks of calm. It was good to sleep in, not worry about schoolwork, and follow our whims about the schedule.

And then, like a gigantic, threatening, visible but still-out-to-sea tidal wave, suddenly every issue that had been building—some unbeknownst to me—piled on top of my head. When I thought maybe I had a handle on one area, another person in the family would point out another flaw in our relational dynamic. Not fun.

Pretty soon I was seeing not just the frayed edges, Read the rest of this entry »

 

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When Negative Voices Knock on Our Door

 When Negative Voices Knock on Our Door

To begin, I want to ask us all a question: Do we feel we have to answer the door every time there is a knock or doorbell ring?

If I’m not expecting someone, I don’t always answer, especially if answering means grabbing a robe, hurrying out of the bathroom, or interrupting something going on that needs my full attention. I will fully disclose that I’m not much of a phone or drop-in visitor person; however, if a knock sounds urgent, I usually make an attempt to answer it. Otherwise, I don’t feel I have to get to it just because it’s a noise beckoning me. Same thing with the phone ringing.

So, I got to thinking:

Why do we feel we have to entertain negative voices when they come along?

Why do we let them in, help them take their shoes off, hang up their coats, and invite them to take up space in our living rooms?

Why do we mislead them into thinking they are welcomed and may cross our threshold any time that suits them?

Fear.

We are often afraid:

  • to offend
  • to lose the relationship
  • to not meet expectation
  • to hurt someone without meaning to
  • to deal with repercussions from anger

But I would like to suggest it’s dishonest to let them (the negativity, not necessarily the person) in unless we plan to join them (and I surely hope we don’t). I also think it’s easier to be passive and open the door.

It takes courage and action to say: “No, we’re not going to go there. That is not a place you may make commentary or cast judgment upon,” or “It’s lovely to see you, but rejection, disrespect, and discouragement are not on the menu today. What else would you like to talk about?”

I have been pondering this quite a bit recently as several friends shared some relational struggles they were having with others. We all have them. These were my thoughts:

Boundaries aren’t for shutting people out, but they are defined as being unwilling to remain in dysfunctional, dishonoring patterns, but simultaneously inviting the other person to come along and engage in—or at first learn—new, healthy patterns of relating. We can invite people to get on that train, but we cannot make them ride it.

Now, this all sounds like I have this under control and sit above everyone else doling out boundaries right and left. Quite the contrary. I learn much from those who have drawn them for me over time. Sometimes, their boundaries may be out of over-self-protection, but I still need to observe them. At other times, lines drawn in the sand for me have at least indicated where the relationship could or could not go.

Boundaries are like navigational tools to help us know how to relate better with someone. They provide a map of safe topics and interactions and clue us in, if we’re willing to listen, to where we should and should not tread. If we’re careful about communicating, our boundaries should do the same for others.

But, bringing it back to negative voices: We don’t have to allow them. Plenty of naysaying goes on in our lives every day—some of it constructive but much of it destructive. When people want to go down Toxic Alley with us, we don’t have to permit it. In fact, they are often looking for us to provide some guardrails for the relationship, and if we don’t, they are like children who don’t know the rules in their own homes: insecure and lost. Not only that, by being passive, we give negativity permission to come in and stay a while. Once it gets in the door, it often takes over the relationship, gets into our heads and hearts, and hijacks everything that could be good or constructive.

That doesn’t mean we shut the person (or people) out, necessarily—just the behaviors that are destructive.

This can also be true when nobody real is knocking at the door…only our own negative voices from the past. I write a lot about this in Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New DayWhatever we have let in and made welcomed will keep coming back. Guaranteed. When we swirl around in negative thinking, we’ve already let the first thought in the door and offered it a cup of coffee.

So, how do we stop the madness inside our minds and hearts? The perseverating? Bitter chewing? Stewing in ugly thoughts of insecurity, misunderstanding, misconceptions, wrong assumptions? How do we stop them at the door?

We don’t let them in.

Just because negative voices knock on our doors, bang into our minds, and try to take up space in our hearts,

we do not have to let them in.

Here are some answers I draw from my faith in Christ and His redemptive work on the cross. The first selection talks about how not to be anxious (bring it!). Really, doesn’t negative thinking contribute to anxiety, and vice versa? It’s an ever-hungry beast.

What’s the remedy for stopping negative thoughts and voices at the door?

Rejoice.

Let your requests be made known to God.

The peace of God will guard your hearts and your minds.

Think about good things.

Take every thought captive to obey Christ.

God gave us a spirit of self-control (sound mind).

We need to ask Him to help us do this. These are His promises for those who believe in Him.

Negativity will keep knocking on our doors. It’s part of what tries to invade and keeps our focus off the love of our Savior. There will always be a battle there: either from others or within our own selves.

But we now have a loving answer—one with structure, safety, boundaries, healthy relating, and a Savior who spread His arms out on a cross as His pledge and promise to always help us defeat the dark things that plague us.

Why?

Because He’s already defeated them.

And He’s got our backs.

Philippians 4:4-9, Apostle Paul speaking, ESV
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

2 Corinthians 10:5, Apostle Paul speaking, ESV
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.

2 Timothy 1:7, Apostle Paul speaking, ESV
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control*.

*The King James Version says “sound mind” for “self-control.”

**This blog has been shared at any link highlighted here: Mom 2 Mom Monday Link-Up, Make a Difference Mondays, Testimony Tuesday, Women With Intention WednesdaysGrace & Truth, A Little R & R, RaRa Link-Up, Me, Coffee & Jesus, Dance With Jesus, Blessing Counters, Coffee & Conversation, Saturday Soiree, Tell His Story, Find Stability, So Much at Home, Faith-Filled Fridays, Reflect His Love and Glory Link-Up, Bonbon ‘n Coffee Linkup, and Christian Mommy Blogger.

 

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