This morning I was reading in my “Daily Guidepost” about boundaries and how ignoring the boundaries that God sets around us can lead to our demise or to great hurt. It occurred to me that boundaries come in many different types. We have land boundaries with some visible and others invisible. We have religious boundaries with some defined by man and some defined by God. We have moral boundaries with some defined by law and others defined by our personal beliefs. I could go on and on about the different types of boundaries, but there are so many it would take years to adequately define them. The point is to know our own personal boundaries and follow them with our eyes and hearts open.
This brings to mind a boundary that I came close to crossing. After 19 years of marriage my husband decided he needed new boundaries. He packed up his things and moved out. I was left with two teenagers, a pile of bills, and very little income to support us with. I took on extra work from my job and took a part time job. I began working six days a week. We had to move out of our 1200 sq ft home into an 800 sq ft mobile home. I felt the weight of the world descend upon my shoulders and could see no way out. I felt like a failure because I could not adequately provide for my children and had failed at my marriage. I felt like my children blamed me for their dad leaving. My employer was abusive, and I was enduring sexual harassment on the job by a fellow employee. The man believed he had the right to touch the female workers breast, genitals, and rub himself on us. I can’t count the number of times I had to physically remove his hand from up my skirt. Complaining to the owner did not good because the man claimed to be a homosexual.
My part time job was at a grocery store. The assistant manager also believed he had to the right to abuse his employees. He made unreasonable demands. He yelled at the employees when the manager was not around. On top of that, the manager’s daughter was stealing from the cash drawers and blaming the loss on the employee. When she stole from my register, I was required to repay the missing $100.00 from my very small paycheck, which left me owing more than I made. I had to quit the job the day I tried to drive the 30 miles home at midnight and fell asleep at the wheel waking just in time to keep from driving off the road into a house. I decided I had to find another way to support us. So I had to cut back on expenditures. My husband was not paying child support nor was he helping us in any way.
As the bills piled up, and the money slowly dwindled, I found I could not handle the pressure emotionally. My daytime job was 35 miles from our home. We lived close to a lake. One day, instead of turning right onto the road toward our tiny little trailer home, I turned left toward the lake. I drove to the edge of the lake and sat there contemplating my worthiness to the world. I felt as if I had no worth. I could not support my children. I could not provide their needs, especially since my daughter was a senior and my son was a sophomore and both needed more than I could afford to continue with their activities at school. Prom was coming up, track was in full session and both kids were in track. My daughter was a cheerleader, in the orchestra, and both were in special advanced academic classes (college courses). My life seemed to be swallowing me up. I could see no way to proceed forward. I had lost sight of my personal boundaries.
As I sat at the lake, I pondered the idea of driving my car into the lake. How could I continue bearing the weight of raising two children and supplying their needs? How could I continue to live with all the problems that surrounded me? How could I face my children as a failure? I had nothing in life to keep me from driving my car into the lake, I decided. As I reached down to start the engine, two faces appeared before me. Those faces were my children. God asked me, “How can you leave them? Haven’t they suffered enough?” God set a boundary before me. A boundary that kept me from driving my car into the lake. A boundary that told me I had to keep trying. I had to keep moving forward. I had two very important people who depended on me to help them become who they were meant to be. I reached down, started my car, and drove home. My boundary very clear in my mind and heart.
The day that I found a boundary that kept me from crossing the boundary between life and death is the day I began living again. I had suffered several illnesses in which the doctors had told me I might not survive or come through it whole, but the boundary God gave me was the one that gave my life purpose, that made me know I was worthy of not only his love but of loving myself. I realized by loving myself enough to continue to live, I could love my children with more that just my heart but with my whole life. That boundary still surrounds me. That boundary defines me as a mother and a grandmother. That boundary keeps me moving forward even when I feel like I cannot take one more step. But, that is not the only boundary I discovered. I discovered boundaries that say abuse is not acceptable. I discovered boundaries that says I am not defined by my financial situation, my home, my clothing, my appearance, my job, my car, or any other physical object in this world. I am defined by what I believe about me, my moral boundaries, my physical boundaries, my educational boundaries, my personality boundaries, my boundaries that I self impose on my beliefs and my morals.
Setting boundaries helps us to move forward. This is not to say that we cannot expand our boundaries; on the contrary, boundaries are meant to be expanded. Boundaries are not confining but are freeing when we realize that a boundary is only a point at which to begin again. If a person tells you that you cannot succeed and you allow those words to set a boundary for you, then you have the ability to break that boundary and prove to the person you can succeed. Your financial status is not dependent on what you do now, but it is dependent on how far you can push your boundaries of ability by improving your educational boundaries, by expanding your boundary of knowledge of your job, and your abilities through practice. You set your boundaries; you can break those boundaries.
If you question the worthiness of your life, then look around you to determine are you confining yourself in unreasonable boundaries. Are drugs, alcohol, circumstances, education, marriage, family, friends, and so forth boundaries that are constricting your ability to accept how worthy you are? If you are letting other people or objects set boundaries for you, then you are the only one that can break those boundaries. Don’t wait until you are sitting at the edge of the lake wondering if your life is worthy of continuing. Take action now, examine those self-inflicted boundaries, and make the decision to move forward, to expand, to grow, and to become the person you are meant to be.