Reach for a clean, new, sheet of paper. Hold it up before you and consider its corners, its faces and its edges. At some point the page begins, and at another it ends. If even something as elemental as paper has boundaries, how much more should we? In our complexity, it is boundaries that define us. In the busyness of life, it is our boundaries that refine us.
Jesus knew the importance of this and modelled it beautifully.
After a long night of ministry He goes off by Himself for some much needed R&R (rejuvenation and revitalisation).
“Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. And Simon and those who were with Him searched for Him. When they found Him, they said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.” But He said to them, “Let us go into the next towns that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.” (Mark 1:35-38 NKJV).
In this simple yet powerful example, are His first boundary lines drawn: It’s a new day for me (now in the morning)
Jesus used natural, pre-existing boundaries to His advantage, allowing the mistakes and triumphs of yesterday to fade away. Maybe your yesterday was a mass of confusion; people walked all over you, or you surrendered time and energy to things that provided no good return on investment. Today let’s try something new!
I must have adequate rest (having risen)
Jesus made time for sleep. You can’t rise well unless you’ve rested well. Our minds, and our bodies, have limitations. We stretch these by taking care of what we’ve been given.
I will do what it takes to establish boundaries in my life (a long while before daylight)
Jesus did what it took to achieve what He needed to achieve. I didn’t say ‘wanted’. Jesus considered time alone with His Father as His ‘necessary food’; it was what would fuel Him for the days ahead. Even after a gruelling night, He found Himself awake and in pursuit of that relationship.
I will make time to get out, get away and get alone (He went out and departed to a solitary place)
Some of us find it difficult to get alone. I know this first-hand; craving space but uncertain of what to do with it when I have it. I’m so accustomed to constantly being on the run that when I have empty space I unconsciously try to fill it. It’s time to stop running from yourself and rediscover who you are outside of your tasks, responsibilities and roles.
I will make that time away useful (and there He prayed)
Take time to attend to the condition of your spirit and your relationship with your Creator. Jesus recharged in the place of prayer. He did that, and that alone. Allow yourself to not be doing everything, all at once. Stop, drop and listen. What you hear in the silence, may change your life. Open your heart and your mouth, you may be surprised at what comes out, and what the Lord pours in, in response.
I believe these boundaries helped set Jesus up internally for what happens next in the story. The scenario is so characteristic of the life of a parent that I encouraged mothers in one of my blogs a while ago:
“…So Jesus gets up especially early trying to get some privacy and settle His head, and before he knows it along comes Simon and company, reminding him He is already in high demand before the day has even begun. Most of us can relate…”
So here’s the principle. When you start drawing boundary lines in your life, expect opposition. Demands will immediately and forcefully present themselves. People will proffer their suggestions on the best way you should spend your time. We accept it, but it’s false responsibility. It’s not actually our problem, but the hero/she-ro in us feels like we need to deliver people from themselves. I say this in the kindest way possible, and obviously there is room to help someone who can’t help himself, but there’s a difference between choosing to assist because you have the room to, and feeling obligated or muscled into it because of insecurities or manipulation.
Know when to say yes and how to say no.
I love how Jesus responds to the disciples’ assertion that, “Everyone is looking for You.” You don’t get the sense that He is being callous or uncaring when His gentle but firm reply comes back. “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.” He had done all He could, was able and willing to do in the place where He was. He had already gone the extra mile for the people in that area and now recognised that purpose was driving Him forward to another place. We have the power to choose, and dictate, even if forcefully, where our responsibility to others begins and where it ends. We must be sensitive to recognise that there are limits, not just for our own sake but to allow those around us to grow.
Teach yourself and those you love to respect your time and limitations.
Sometimes people can get greedy and expect that you will always be there to fulfill what makes them comfortable or feel good about themselves. Jesus had a different plan, and encouraged His disciples both to respect and go along with it. Frankly if they hadn’t I think He would have gone on without them. Do you have a clear understanding of God’s purpose and plan for your life? A sense of purpose helps you make goals, have clarity and keep focused on what is most important.
Your ‘why’ will help you to navigate the ‘whats’ of your life – keeping them to rank and file. Sure, some people won’t like that but if you stand up for yourself they will learn to appreciate your stance and realise that it is not selfishness but sanity. The less time you spend on unnecessary things, the more time you can devote to what really gives you joy, and that joy will extend your capacity to be a blessing to others for the long haul and not just in the immediate.
Jesus, The Word, the endless and enduring God who ‘gave the sea its boundary, so the waters would not overstep His command’, for all His infinitude reveals Himself to us as the Alpha (the Beginning) and the Omega (the End). As man, He was constantly in high demand but knew how not to be led by feelings, fear or expectations, but by His Father, and the clear sense of direction He maintained by keeping close to Him. With His help, draw your boundary lines and reap the holistic rewards.
Tell us how this post has inspired you to set and enforce boundaries in your life with your loved ones in the comment section below!
Tao Howard Parent Blogger
Tao Howard is a little ‘crazy’ – by nature and by circumstance. The wife of one husband and mother of three boys with seemingly endless energy, she is 99% Bajan, 1% Trinidadian and a second generation purple lover and good food lover. Tao is passionate about good design, writing, and helping young people navigate, sustain and preserve their lives and relationships. Most of all she loves Jesus and worshiping Him in various expressions