I have had to draw a lot of lines in the sand lately and it’s been really hard. Saying no, setting limits, making a stand….. and worrying a lot what people might think.
Setting boundaries in life whether it be in work, family, finance, diet or any number of other things can be a really important skill to have. Every day we make big and small decisions where we have to say “yes” to one thing and “no” to another.
That’s just life.
Some people find it very easy to do and some find it very hard…to the point that it feels like a criminal offence to say ‘no’ to things sometimes. Some people set too many boundaries and others set too few.
I wonder where you stand when it comes to setting boundaries?
How often do you say “no” ?…. and how do you feel when you do?
I have found when we do draw the line somewhere in the sand (which we inevitably need to do, at some point), we can often be left feeling guilty (well I do at least and I am sure I am not the only one).
I really hate that feeling of letting someone down. But the fact is that it’s bound to happen, we simply can’t say yes to everything. Nor can we all agree 100% on every life decision made (imagine for a moment a world like that!!??).
So what do we do?
I have found that it’s almost predictable for me that shortly after a decision has been made, suddenly I lose my confidence and a wave of panic and second-guessing hits. Of course, I tried to take the time to ask, “actually, what IS God’s will here in this situation” and what IS the ‘right’ thing to do. Unfortunately, though, it’s not always as clear-cut as I wish it would be. There are grey areas. VERY grey areas and we need to really take the time to pray and research and get good advice in the first instance.
Eventually that time comes. That brave moment arrives, and we need to just go ahead and grab that stick (no matter how nervous we are feeling about it) and draw that boundary line where we think it should go. Bold and clear. And hope for the best.
Like at the end of a carefully constructed painting that we have worked tirelessly on. We need to know when it’s time to then step back and put the brush down for the moment and wait.
We take a deep breath and say a little (or very big) prayer and then wait to see what unfolds next…… The thing with drawing lines in the sand though is that while we wait and let the dance of life play out around this boundary line, the line is there. And everyone can see it!
It’s thick and clear and wide open for the world to see. People can see that you have made a stand.
Whether it be disciplining our kids at a playground, making a stand in your marriage or workplace, buying a new (or very old) car, speaking up for world injustices or simply deciding what food we are or are not going to allow ourselves to eat today. Whether we realise it or not, every day we are drawing lines in the sand and deciding where our boundaries and limits lie.
There really is no mistaking it, when we draw that line it’s out there for the world to see, so very public……I feel really exposed and vulnerable sometimes. I am scared of what they might think.
Often, I find myself wishing I could be like this ostrich and just stick my head in the sand till it’s all over!….. But unfortunately I can’t do that either.
My own questions are still swirling around my head too. “Is the line too close or too far away?” “Should the line even be there at all!??”
Here’s a word of warning. Everyone will have an opinion. Some will love it, some will hate it. And many people will go ahead and tell you what they think, often without your permission. Or sometimes worse still, they won’t say anything ‘per say’ at all… yet they still make it quite clear, through their actions, what they think about the decision you have made.
The thing is, when you draw a line in the sand it doesn’t come attached with a tag line and explanation of how you came to this point. You have already done a lot of hard work to get to the decision you made. You’ve thought long and hard about this and you have done the best you can. But they can’t see that part. They don’t know your history, your life experiences that brought you to this decision point.
You had to draw the line somewhere.
As you stand there seeing how the boundary line plays out. You might find it needs to move, a little tweaking… perhaps a little closer or a little further away. And that’s okay too. It’s easy enough to wipe one line away and draw a new one. Situations can change. New information can come to light. Children mature (well, hopefully!) And we do the best we can with what we know.
Don’t be so attached to that line or so proud that you are not willing to make changes when the time is right.
When the time is right.
On the other hand, if we erase the line too early it is possible all hell will break loose too. Imagine, for example, letting a child drive on their own before they have learnt the road rules and gotten a driver’s license! Don’t be rushed. Take your time, and make your next move to be as thoughtful and precise as you did the first.
Recently, I have been reading a book called The Barefoot Investor trying hard to figure out where those lines should be drawn in my finances and budget decisions. It’s hard to know what the right thing to do is sometimes. I ‘think’ we have made some good changes but I guess time will tell and I am sure there will be some tweaking involved to make sure those lines are in just the right places as we work out where it is wise to spend a little and where it is wise to spend a lot.
One of the things I read on the Barefoot Investor website that really resonated with me though as I have fumbled through drawing these lines in the sand was when he talked about “caring with both hands”. He said, “If you’re doing brave things, chances are you’re going to make someone around you feel uncomfortable. And they may try to bring you down.” His suggestion was to think about the 5-10 people whose opinion you truly care about and don’t worry about the rest! I felt like his suggestion in this article brought me a huge sense of relief. I don’t actually have to try to please everyone. Wow! It’s simple but a very powerful thought
I also want to share here a link to further reading about boundaries which I personally found really good and I like that it adds a bit of a biblical perspective too. It is quite comprehensive and makes some really great points I think. It outlines some of the types of boundaries that can be made and some of the issues to consider around good boundary making and the consequences of doing it poorly.
I really pray that you (and I) will be blessed with supernatural wisdom and insight when it comes to setting boundaries so we can know with confidence where we need to draw the lines in our lives. There is no denying that setting boundaries in close relationships like with family and friends can certainly be very hard to do sometimes but I also know that drawing a line in the sand also might just be the most loving thing you ever do.
So what lines in the sand have you had to draw lately?
How are those boundaries looking now that a bit of time has passed by? is there any tweaking required?