Are Boundaries Only for Christians?
What is a Christian?
In scripture, we find several terms to describe a Christian and what God expects from Christians. Scripture notes that Christians are like Soldiers, Athletes, Farmers, Workers, and Clean inside and outside. Christians are as brethren amongst themselves. Acts 15:1, 23; Cor. 7:12; and called Disciples, Acs 9:26, 11:20; Believers, Acts 5:14: Saints, Rom. 8:27, 15:25-and appears in only the New Testament Acts 26:28, I Peter 4:16. When we reflect and study more upon each term, we learn much about Christians and what God expects. Soldiers follow their commander without question, placing themselves in harm's way to protect and to meet the goal. They go through grueling exercise to keep themselves in top shape so as to be prepared for the hardest of times.
Athletes also spend endless hours and dedication willingly-sacrificing personal satisfaction so as to obtain their rewards. They digest the best nutrients and exercise to ensure they are prepared. They seek trainers to guide them and to hold them accountable. Farmers are hard workers as they endure whatever the weather and the ground gives to them, keeping the weeds and pestilent from their crops while planting when seasonal correct, the appropriate crops, and then gleaning the fruit when ripe for harvest. The hard workers do not have to be asked to work. They seek for areas that need their skills and they do their best to make sure that the job is completed well. And, the Christians are to be mindful of keeping their minds and hearts pure as one would wash their dishes inside and out so as to be suitable for use. As one reads of the other terms then they also learn more attributes, blessing, and requirements of the Christian. God did not promise Christians that life would be stress free and easy. God did promise that when faithful to Him, then He will be with us, and that our reward will be eternal life with Him. God also has made it clear that the Christian life is one of suffering, pain, sacrifice, and even death-yet this life is temporary and will lead to Heaven if we do not faint or lose faith. Although we are saved by grace and cannot do enough to earn Heaven-we have much work expected of us so that we can sow the seed and win souls to Christ. We are told to not take vengeance, and to love our enemies. We also must stand firmly upon the truth, speaking the whole truth. Communicating without violating emotional boundaries while being assertive aids all people to speak during difficult times.
Before we can resolve conflicts amicably we first need to be mindful of boundaries. Parents and Teachers begin early teaching such to the children. Yet, why is often not conveyed. Not only are our words important but how we deliver those words is also crucial. During communication, there must be a congruency as we speak, with direct eye contact, calm facial and body language, an open frame, a welcoming environment, and the safety of the relationship. To safeguard ourselves and the relationship we also need to have a strong grasp on our thought process and how our heart is feeling. Limits are very important. Therefore let us consider the three major boundaries that must be included in the interaction of people so as to not cause harm to each other as we speak to needs and conflicts.
All human beings need to feel three things: Secure, Safe, and also Accepted-in order to feel validated and counted amongst the population.
Security: is more relational. Husband and wives; boyfriends and girlfriends in their unique relationship need to feel secure in that relationship. Each must guard against roaming eyes, offensive or threatening speech, and acting in any way to cause the other to feel insecure, unwanted, or disrespected/unimportant. Safety is often in regards to one's wellbeing and other physical boundaries (anything tangible that one owns); and Acceptance deals with relational issues. To keep these in tact then we must consider and remain within, while implementing 3 basic boundaries as we interact with each other of the human race: adults and with children. If without due to violations-then negative feelings, low self esteem, and negative actions will result.
Emotions are fragile and unseen internally; sometimes hidden from view or knowledge yet can be scarred and life altering when violated. People have a variety of personality traits of their own which lead to more or less ability to factor conflict issues; as some are more sensitive than others.
When words or actions are said or done that hurt, humiliate, shame, manipulate, deceive, or threaten another person-then one has violated the emotional boundaries. One must learn how to speak of concerns or conflicts without attacking another person's identify or self worth.
Anything tangible is a physical issue/item. Our primary is our bodies. We are in control as to whom looks upon or touches our body and possessions, therefore if one violates this boundary then one violates the individual. At an early age children are taught to keep their hands to themselves and to ask permission prior to borrowing. Sometimes good touches can become bad touches if they are unwanted. When violated then people can experience anger, fear, anxiety, or other negative emotion, thus also effecting the emotional boundaries. Another consideration is proximity from the other as cultures have a construct as to one's personal space in which they require in order to feel safe. As we most likely have experienced-when our emotional boundaries are in tact then we feel safe usually when 1.5 foot to 4 foot in proximity from acquaintances, during non-conflict interactions. However; if in conflict-then we require more personal space (although when angry, others tend to close in on our personal space which heightens anger and fear, thus violating our emotional and physical boundaries).
These occur within whatever social arenas that we find ourselves within. These are the norms/rules that govern and that are expected within each situation or environment. Rules can vary in formality drastically due to the different forum in which we find ourselves. Every household has different rules for their homes, schools, stores, court, gym, and even the road have rules/norms that are expected. When violated then there will be offenses and possible danger that could occur which could lead to emotional and physical violations. Society today deems some-earlier behaviors, "one's right" to participate in-which do violate physical and emotional boundaries. In this case then we cannot always believe that social media, or the social boundaries that one subscribes to-is right; although one is told that they have the right to do it; should it violate the other two higher moral standard and etiquette that created the emotional and physical boundaries. It is believed that the social boundaries were first depicted in scripture's 10 commandments, since many of these do stipulate boundaries of emotional and physical concerns. Also in Corinthians chapter 13 we have the love chapter which renders many aspects of what love truly is. As we are loving our neighbor and our enemies-then we are to rise to these standards even when our culture and society's actions and rules may contradict those statutes when we are Christians. As a counselor of mental and behavioral health; and with empirical research; then it is also healthier in any relationship to be most mindful of the emotional and physical boundaries of mankind. By respecting these boundaries then we do not harm, neglect, forsake, or abuse others thus showing respect to each other.
When a client comes into our office; it is quickly evident that boundaries had been blurred, crossed, and violated and the remnants of those violations are broken people. We show them first that it is important to know what boundaries are and to establish clear boundaries. We then provide education regarding how our brains operate and how our thoughts and perceptions are often faulty as we teach how to challenge and reframe these distortions; while increasing social and communication skills to use during conflict and every day activities with a child, spouse, employee, employer, passenger, and others. With these skills then people can interact with others, stand true to self, feel empowered, and speak to needed issues without violating another. We work hard in cultivating the tools to render service to others as Christians. We become soldiers as we seek to obey as we listen to His directives, even when others may not be functioning from the same standards, and we march forward as we live as Christ would want us to-showing God's love when it is easy and when it is difficult with our different approach in life.
Non Christians who come to us-learn these constructs of social skills and mindfulness. They find that these constructs effect a positive change in their relationships as they cease violating others, and when they protect their own boundaries-escaping from violations that would have been occurring; had they not been versed in how to speak to defenses and manipulations that are intended to control, while otherwise continuing the dysfunction and use of disrespect and distortion of truth. As their families and friends see a difference in them-then they are often more likely to respond instead of react; thus making a change that benefits our society as each family become stronger units with healthier boundaries.
At times, regardless of treating others right-others choose not to change and therefore relationships erode and hurt abounds yet we persevere. It is not our place or right to attempt to change others to our perception and it is not theirs to expect us to change for them. When this occurs then we must speak assertively and mindfully regarding the feelings and theirs, to attempt to seek a solution while being ever so watchful regarding boundaries. In today's culture boundaries are eroding so fast, that we find ourselves in a quandary as to what to do. People are accosted in public simply due to clothing, their beliefs, or political affiliation as others attempt to control them and if unsuccessful then they will breach emotional, physical, and social boundaries without any conscience that they are abusing a human being. This article is at least to inform that humans need boundaries so as to grow respect and increase real communication.