Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
Matthew 6: 19-21
Where is your treasure? What are you investing in? Are you putting your precious limited energy to its best use, or are you like me- fretting and fuming about the dirty kitchen counter, wondering frantically if my shirt really matches my pants, asking myself over and over and over if I will make it to the next check on $23.41 in my checking account, incessantly and obsessively checking my email for that one note from that one person, and whining about work, or the lack of it, and not getting a romantic spring break on the beach. As an alternative, we could be working on growing trust and faith in God, loving ourselves with our thoughts and choices, bringing up and creating good habits to encourage and enrich our thoughts, attitudes and behaviors.
We all know that positive self-talk is important from all the self-help books we have read and the hours we have spent on counseling couches. I/we just need to do it on a more consistent basis- love ourselves and say it out loud, do things that show our love to ourselves, make choices to prove to ourselves that we love ourselves… eat the right foods, get enough sleep, stay away from depending on undependable people, be clear with our financial choices…. And the boundaries… oh yes the boundaries- an awesome way to love and respect ourselves!!
I realized today there may be a nice little feedback loop– our healthy boundaries encouraging positive self-talk, and the positive self-talk encourages us to have good boundaries!! Isn’t it brilliant how diligence on one good habit helps us make other good habits?!
For the Boundaries lesson for this week, we will review 6 changes in us that signal the start of creating and maintaining healthy boundaries:
1- Feeling resentment: We will feel resentment as we grow our boundary muscles and notice when people in our lives are stepping on them a bit. So resentment may be a good sign (not bad, as I always thought before), as it is a little alarm system, letting us know that we need to check out the fences we put up and see who is tipping them over, or at least trying to (consciously or subconsciously).
2- Attraction to some new people: We will find ourselves attracted to folks with healthy boundaries. These might be new people in our lives- new blood to get our brains out of the ruts of old actions. It does not mean we have to throw our “old” relationships away. Remember the song from Girl Scouts? “Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other’s gold”.
3- Finding supportive places to practice boundaries: These new places (like sports groups, work relationships, friendship circles, etc.) are helping us to flex our muscles just a little bit more and to be encouraged to stretch to realize their boundaries are healthy (e.g., my new counselor kicked me out of her office after running over by only 5 minutes! “The nerve!” Oops, I mean, “Gee, isn’t it awesome that she is modeling good boundaries with me…”)
4- Treasuring our treasures: In a more conscious way, we will value our feelings, talents, thoughts, attitudes, behavior, bodies, and the resources God has entrusted us with (e.g. our kids, our money, our homes). We may find ourselves not allowing others to disregard our opinions by simply not sharing them in unsafe environments (like not sharing my political views with my parents). We might also find ourselves building on talents we have, sharing our art with others, or our capabilities with coworkers. We may also be deciding now to treasure our need for sleep and let the kids sleep in their own beds, or not get up with them when they have minor needs. And we may find ourselves being more (not overly)protective of our precious kids, or thinking of ways to spend better time with them- for me that means ignoring the kitchen counter clutter so that I can look my daughter in the eye when she talks to me about her day.
5- Practicing Baby Step Nos: This might look like setting limits on how many hot lunches the kids can buy in one month, asking them to wait patiently until the end of the month for new shoes, telling the boss I will not be available to work on Easter weekend, etc. This probably would not include me addressing my best friend’s drinking problem… that is not a “baby step no”!
6- Feeling guilty about making healthy boundary choices: Yes, feeling guilty actually means that we are examining our stuff, re-evaluating our reactions, and even defying an inaccurate authority! This signals spiritual growth! Yippee. It means that we are wrestling with our negative reaction to our mothers’ insistence on trouncing upon our boundaries. We are listening to a truer source. And your mom won’t like it, will she? She might even try to magnify the guilt card…
Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
No matter who likes it, or doesn’t like this change in our behavior, we know we need to take the steps necessary to protect our treasures and grow in them. God is my chosen authority, not my mom, dad, boss, or my older brother. I want to follow what God wants me to do, not them. And we know from our study that God wants us to have good boundaries, to love ourselves with our thoughts and choices, to bring up and create good habits to encourage and enrich our thoughts, attitudes and behaviors. We are his treasure, and we need to care for his treasure. Boundaries are not selfish!
This is hard work if you are a “boundary-injured person”; we have had kids, parents, partners, siblings, friends, and bosses dancing on our boundaries for years…most of our lives, even. We need to be prepared to be challenged. Be prepared to have obstacles. But also be prepared to persevere through our difficulties in setting and keeping boundaries. It may be good and right work, but that does not mean it is easy…
Fortunately, God is with us, cheering us on the whole way. He is our biggest fan and most devoted assistance when we need it.