October 31, 2013

It is work, isn't it?

I’ve considered starting this last post in a myriad of ways. It’s hard to wrap up such a topic because there was so much I didn't cover. It’s hard to know where to end this when it’s still something I am very much learning myself. But this is day 31, and it’s time to put this series to bed. Oh, I’ll post on relationships again, but we need a wrap up, don’t we?

Relationships are important. We were made for community and learning how to deal with one another can take some time and effort. It is work in many respects, and I know: we get tired of working. It would be lovely if our relationships were as effortless as a day at the beach. The sun slowly wakes us, the sand welcomes us, the rays kiss us, the water cleanses us; but even at the beach it rains, there are jellyfish, and that sand? It can be painful sometimes.

You know why relationships require our time and attention? Because people require our time and attention. We can talk about quality and quantity all day long, but it takes both. And each person is their own creature, so no two relationships are the same. There is no magic formula or ten step process in making each and every relationship turn out good. Trial and error can get messy, and so can we. I’m simply grateful for those who have come before and have been willing to share their encounters, lessons, and comforts with those of us who are a few steps behind.

 day 31

Boundaries go up, boundaries come down, forgiveness extends, reconciliation is reached, love is given, attention is required, hearts are heard, and pain is released. Relationships begin, reconcile, and end. Jesus helps us work through all the situations if we listen to our heart and listen truly. Sometimes love is hard. Sometimes love is sacrifice. Sometimes a relationship needs time, and sometimes it needs grace. God will tell our hearts when to do what, because there is a time for everything. The goal is to do our part to make each relationship have what anyone would want from a personal relationship: “closeness, safety, intimacy, respect, freedom, trust, and mutuality.” (Dr. Townsend, Who’s Pushing Your Buttons?)

You know what I realized from writing this series? Building boundaries actually takes a lot of work on our part. Sometimes it seems unfair, actually, how much work is required of us. But that’s the difference between good walls and bad walls. The bad walls are easy. It’s easy to walk away, turn our back, and ignore. But eventually the more walls like this you build, the more isolated from life you find yourself. The good walls are harder. It takes time, vulnerability, love, forgiveness, honesty, and communication. But in the end, you have a more abundant life.  

Living safely with others means that we protect ourselves, others, and the relationships which connect us. I hope you will keep learning and working towards doing this with those you interact with. I know I shall.

Thank you so much for joining me in this series. I appreciate each and every one of you very much. The list of all the posts for this series can be found in the Table of Contents

I would love for you to join the conversation through 
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October 30, 2013

We decide.

These relationships aren’t always easy. Giving space, releasing, granting freedom for you and them: it can all be quite tricky and hard. When you ask for help and few respond, does that mean few care or others can’t help that situation? When you invite to lunch with the clear intention of learning from the other person, and they refuse does that mean they don’t want to be there for you? I think it takes more than one situation to know. But, as the old saying goes, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.

 day 30

I have seen people boast of their anger towards an innocent person. The service person on the phone doing their job gets the brunt of the anger regarding a situation with the company. An accidental brush receives angry glares and ugly words. I have seen pride in the retelling of these stories because they stood up for themselves and backed someone else down. I have worn the walls which create these situations; daring anyone to cross me by the look in my eye.

But I have also been the recipient of such anger and outburst. I have felt the attacks which are unseen but leave marks forever. I have worn the shame of being backed down into a corner rather than lash out on my own. And I know that I allowed someone to treat me that way because I (1) didn’t want confrontation and (2) didn’t know how to do it in love.

We decide how people will treat us, don’t we? We decide what we are going to put up with. And each relationship has different sacrifices and different expectations. But we make that decision based on so many things. I can’t tell you how to put up the boundaries in your life, and I can’t tell you where to draw those lines. But I can tell you when you say nothing about their behavior, when you let them rant and rave about their made up injury, and when you defend them over the people who were hurt in order to “keep the peace” you have given them permission to behave that way again. You have told them they were right.

No, we can’t change a person. But we can explain to them what they did was wrong, and it simply won’t be accepted. We can decide we won’t allow that type of behavior towards ourselves or our loved ones. We can tell them we want a good relationship with them. A true relationship. One where we can both be ourselves, rather than one where I pretend to be something else so you don’t get upset. And then, maybe one day they will be ready to have a real free relationship with us. But we decide what we will accept.
The list of all the posts for this series can be found in the Table of Contents.

I would love for you to join the conversation through 
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October 29, 2013

When they don't care.

Things we have been told: when you forgive someone you forget what they have done. If you truly forgave them everything would go back to the way it was. If you love them you need to let them back in your life. Forgiveness needs to be like God forgave us: total and complete. Tearing down the walls means you need to keep all the walls down for all the people.

Forgive me, but these are all rubbish. Forgiving deals with the past, protecting deals with the future.

We have talked about what to do when you get hurt, but I want to address what we do when that person who hurts you refuses to yield. What do you do when they totally justify their decisions, their actions, and the steps they take? What do you do when you explain the hurt, and pain and they simply do not care? What do you do with someone like that?

day 29 a
Remember when we spoke about responsibility? This is where you need to step up to the plate. You don’t do it in anger or hatred, but you need to do it. I have done this at least twice in my life, and I know that each time I did it from behind a wall in my heart. I didn’t do it well, but I knew I needed space. My heart broke each time because I truly desired a relationship with each person, but I knew in that instance that they cared more about their agenda than our relationship. And it hurt. So I walled up, said good-bye, and walked away. And it broke me.

Coming out from behind those walls and learning so much more through my studies I know now you can distance yourself from someone who is not safe, but leave room for the door to reopen if they change. I can’t control them, and I don’t want to. I want them to choose our relationship because that is what they want, not because they feel pressure to do so. I want our relationships to be free.

 day 29 b

It’s hard and painful sometimes. I won’t lie to you. I have had people tell me I was wrong and I need to let things go. I have told myself just to move on. And in a way, honestly, I have. My heart has released the hate, anger, hurt, and bitterness that once existed there. Now I’m simply aware when I have any dealings with them. I am careful if they put their hand on the doorknob to open the door. I don’t lock it, nor do I slam it shut, I simply wait and see. And if the same thing that has always walked through the door walks through I simply close it again.

When I took my class through Brave Girls Club they spoke about keeping people on your virtual moon. Where you could see them, wave at them, love them, but you don’t expect more than they can give. I think of moon people as people who don't give grace to the relationship themselves. Relationships need grace covering from both directions; otherwise things are off balance and not working correctly, thus I need to keep distance between myself and that person. I have moon people and I love them dearly. For the sake of sanity, life, and love, and because I respect them enough to give them space to be themselves, I keep them at a distance. Maybe one day we wont be so far apart.

The list of all the posts for this series can be found in the Table of Contents.

I would love for you to join the conversation through 
Facebook, Twitter, my email, or in the comment section.

October 28, 2013

Your response matters.

That friend whom you love, and want a relationship with, crossed your boundary again. You had asked them to respect your opinion on a matter, a decision made with your husband, or a choice you were facing but they felt the need to tell you what to do, and what they think. Not just sharing, but insisting that the way they would deal with it was the best way and if you truly trusted and loved them you would fall in line.

And you breathe deep and sigh heavy.

 day 28 a

But what do you do? In the moment you are irate and angry and you want to simply push them away and tell them not to come back until they can straighten up. Whether it was the tenth time or the hundredth time you are tired, and they don’t seem to notice or care. But, since you have done this dance before, you know that your anger has no effect on them. No, rather there is only a period of distance until everything gets swept under the carpet and you come back together tentatively until the next blow up. You want a relationship with them, but you need them to change so that the relationship feels equal. So, what do you do?

Consider yourself, or a child you know: when someone yells and glares, shouts and stomps, does their message really get through? I’m not saying some time apart isn’t a good thing, but how you take it makes all the difference in the world.

I know, from my own experience, when I need one of my children to change I can’t yell and holler anymore. It does nothing expect make them made and angry. There may be consequences to what they have done, but if I really want to see a change I need to explain myself out of love and consideration and respect for them.

 day 28 b

I know; it doesn’t seem fair. There was no love, consideration, or respect felt from them, was there? But this is the moment you have to ask yourself what is more important to you. Do you want a relationship with the other person? Then love them. Explain your heart to them. Understand where they are coming from. Find a compromise. Oh yes, please set your boundaries but do it in a manner where they will hear you, if they want to. Do it in love.
The list of all the posts for this series can be found in the Table of Contents.

I would love for you to join the conversation through 
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October 27, 2013

Allow God to search your heart

Last Sunday we looked at our relationships and where the boundaries were. Today I want us to look at our relationships and see where we have been unhealthy within them.  In order to be confident in where we stand with our boundaries and safe walls we must place them there in the spirit of love, health, and knowing it is right. It is the only way we can stand sure and know that we are where we are meant to be. Today, allow God to see into your heart and check the motives regarding how you interact with other people.

The list of all the posts for this series can be found in the Table of Contents.

I would love for you to join the conversation through 
Facebook, Twitter, my email, or in the comment section.

October 26, 2013

How the category will challenge our mess

What would be easy at this point is to simply consider someone we have relationship issues with and decide what category they fit in. It's easy to decide they are too controlling and if they would just let you live your life all would be well. Or if they would just speak up and be honest about things then we could all deal with whatever is on the table. But the truth is we all have the capability of falling into one of these categories and living messy. We need to not worry about another, but simply figure out how we can improve.

October 24, 2013

It's not actually about what our heart desires

There are times in my life where I have struggled with how scripture was taken and seemingly twisted. Or,maybe not twisted but used to mean something it simply shouldn't. I struggle, because who am I to say an interpretation is or isn't correct? But it's part of who I am to dig in, contemplate, and consider the scriptures. If we are to have a real faith, then that's what we must do. Lately I have been thinking about Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

It's one of those verses I know by heart, and yet I scoff a little bit I when I read it, to be honest. Because I know I can't do all things. I simply was not made to do everything. I can't lift a thousand pounds. I can't do one hundred pushups. I wont have a large family. And when I heard the verse I hear, "I can do everything." And I'm simply not sure that's how the verse is to be interpreted.

I was, however, made to do certain things. And the more I think about this verse I think about it not as an end point, but a process. As I dug in to what the scripture said my perspective shifted ever so slightly, but enough for me to understand and be at peace with the verse once again.

This section of Philippians says, "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength."

He says he has learned the secret. Well, what is the secret? The secret IS we can do everything in him who gives us strength. I feel as if I haven't said anything differently, yet my perspective has changed. I wonder if a better way to put it would be "I can face everything through him who gives me strength." The Amplified version puts it "I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me." Do you see what I am seeing?

I CAN'T do everything, but I can face everything because God will be my strength. I CAN'T do whatever I want, but God will strengthen me to face whatever my path crosses. If my life takes a turn and I have to face something that I once thought was impossible, I know now that it's not because God will give me the strength to face it and be content in the middle of it. It's how I get through this life, not simply doing "x" which this verse is speaking about.

I wont scoff anymore when I read this verse. Now I will see it with a realistic heart:thinking I can do whatever I want to do, but being strengthened and empowered by a God who loves me.

I hope this is something that encourages you as well.

October 23, 2013

Ultimately you have a choice to make every day.

Every day we wake up we have a choice to make. How will we live it? What will influence our decisions? Where will our focus be? What I want for you more than anything is that you choose life. Choose to follow God. Choose to live out loud. Choose to protect your heart. Choose to learn what you can. Choose to protect yourself.

But I am fully aware that we have a tendency to think we don't have to make those choices.

We think life is ours for the taking, and all good things will come to us. We think we live right and good and therefore everything will be fine. The sun comes up and we don't even think about it.

But we should.

October 22, 2013

Who is closest to you?

I was once willing to do nearly anything to keep people close to me. I would flip over backwards in order to feel as if I belonged and fit with someone. To be honest, there is still a part of me that is willing to do these things, but another part now runs clear away not to do them, and thankfully I’m aware of both and try to keep them in check. But that leads me to the question, who should we allow close to us, and who should we keep at a distance?

 day 22

The answer isn’t as easy as it seems because life happens and things get messy. Of utter importance is having God as your center because you can trust Him, you want to take your heart to Him first, and you want to give Him power over the rest of your life. Through Him are we able to love the unlovable and live in a peaceful manner. Outside of that you want to “keep things that nurture us inside our fences and keep things that will harm us outside our fences.” (Dr. Townsend, Boundaries)

Of course, this will fluctuate some, but as a whole it’s easy to see why this makes sense. We want to keep those closest to us who love us, support us, encourage us, and hold us dear. If someone is looking for our faults, thinks ill of us, or is hoping we fail we don’t want them to be our secret keepers or heart protectors. It is illogical.

So, as we begin to set up boundaries you have to not worry about what people think, they probably won’t know anyway. It’s not like you will be handing out cards which tells people where they fit in your life. This is for YOU and so you must be the one to decide these things. Is that friend someone you can confide in, or have you seen her talk about others in details she shouldn’t share? Does that family member look for the best in you, or are they waiting for you to fall and make their predictions come true? You have looked at each relationship closely, so now you have to start setting the boundaries around them and you so you can keep those who cheer you on close to your heart. And those who are trying to trip you up? Keep them at enough distance where they simply can’t reach you to do that.

The list of all the posts for this series can be found in the Table of Contents.

I would love for you to join the conversation through 
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October 21, 2013

Relationships must be freely lived

Do you have someone in your life whom you wished could change just “this” much? Would it be better if they made choices you thought were better for their life and your relationship? Can you see the mistakes they are making better than they can and if they would only follow your advice…? But the problem with entering into a relationship that is like this is it isn’t free.

day 21

The hard part is loving someone when you don’t feel like it. One of the ways you love them at this point is to allow them the freedom to be themselves, whoever that is, and not become embittered, hurt, or angered. We can’t control them into being what we want, because we honestly don’t have the big picture either. And if they did do as we said, things still wouldn’t work out well. The only one any of us should listen to in all matters is God.

Please know, this doesn’t mean we don’t seek out advice for ourselves, that’s part of being in relationship. It’s why you want to be careful about who you allow to be close to you. You want to be wise in your choices so you can go to them for advice, opinion, and thoughts on different matters. But we can NOT force our opinion on others. That is not a healthy way to live, for us or them.

So, what do you do when the person you are in relationship with begins to turn their back, let go, move on, be hateful, try to hurt, make bad choices? You let them. Within certain boundaries, you let them.

You see, this is the point where you do tell them, “I love you. I want better for you and our relationship, but the decisions you are making are hurting me and I need to back off a little until things settle down. I’ll be here when you are wanting to reconnect in a healthy respectful way.”

I wish I had done this. Oh, how my heart aches that I didn’t know to say such words a few years back. I don’t know, is it impossible to say them now? Can we go back to burned bridges and try to rebuild?

Learn from my mistake. Don’t burn the bridge. Allow it to stand in place. Just pull the drawbridge up. Allow them to be who they choose to be, and set a boundary in place which protects you from the choices they make, but don’t shut off completely. Leave room for the bridge to be crossed again one day.

The list of all the posts for this series can be found in the Table of Contents.

I would love for you to join the conversation through 
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October 19, 2013

There is only one God.

There is something you need to know as you start out building relationships with other people, and we have talked about it before: they will hurt you. It comes down to this, no matter how much you love a person and they love you, no matter how sacrificial you both live towards each other, no matter how hard you both work to understand where the other person is coming from, there will come a time when your heart will be broke, you will grow angry, and your fear will set in at this point. It is precisely at this point I want you to remember something very important and very powerful:

day 19
Keeping this is in your mind will help you deal with the relationships we have with people, because you are relying on the One who will never let you down.

God is amazing, love, awesome, everything, and He created us for relationship with each other. As we work through those relationships we have to remember this to keep everything balanced.

If we set a person up on a high place we will eventually see them fall.
If we live completely sacrificially for another person, we will eventually feel taken for granted.
If we serve with the expectations that another will serve as well, we will be disappointed.
If we confess to the wrong person, our heart will be in the wrong hands.

We can’t trust everyone as if they are God, because they aren’t. We have to learn who we can trust and to what degree. Each relationship is its own unique creation and as we learn to know people, live with people, and love people we have to do so with the knowledge that they are not God and they should not be set in God’s place in our heart and life.

As we build relationships with people do not think there is someone with whom you don’t have to worry about boundaries. For your sanity and theirs, and the sake of the relationship, boundaries are important in every relationship on this earth.
The list of all the posts for this series can be found in the Table of Contents.

I would love for you to join the conversation through 
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October 18, 2013

When attacked the choice is not yours.

I once attended a self-defense class at the library led by a police officer. If you are looking for a class to take check with the local police department or the community center and see when they offer them. If they don't, ask for them to do so. But during the one I attended the officer spoke about a time he was asked, “How can you choose to take a life?” It was in reference to his job and carrying a gun. His answer was simple, “I don’t make the choice. The other person does.”

October 17, 2013

I want to be clear on the difference in the beginning.

There are a few ways to phrase this side of it, and I don’t want to confuse anyone so I think it’s best to make sure I am clear on what I mean. Yes, we did just take down walls which were harmful in our lives. But now, now we need to build walls which are protective as the walls of a city. When Nehemiah heard the walls were not in place his heart broke because he knew how dangerous it was for the people. When he went to begin to build the walls there were many who were upset and tried to thwart the efforts of the people because they knew what the wall would mean. When the walls of the city were up they had control over that area, the people could live in safety, and the enemies could be kept out.

The walls of the city had gates where the people could enter and leave, and they could close those gates at night or any other unsafe time. They could control when strangers had access to the city. They interacted with others, but on their own terms.

These are the walls we are building. We need to set boundaries in place so that we can interact with people with an open heart, but we can close the gate if we need to.  One thing I love about Nehemiah and the wall: once the gates were set in place he determined them to be closed between sundown and sunup. Not because there was an immediate threat, but because he knew and understood the danger of that time of day.

 day 17

As we learn more about setting up walls of protection we will see that each is different because our interaction with people is different. When someone upsets us we don’t simply turn and walk away and build another isolation wall; rather we work through it. We may close a gate, but we keep the possibility of the gate re-opening.

The difference between walls which hurt and walls which protect, in my mind, is that walls which hurt have a selfish goal of trying to protect ourselves only. We have learned this doesn’t actually work. Walls which protect, however, work to protect not only us but the others as well. We will stop fighting for “OURSELVES” and start fighting for the relationship, the other person, and for ourselves.

 It’s a different mindset, living with the gates, allowing people back in, working to stay open hearted. It allows us to love again.

The list of all the posts for this series can be found in the Table of Contents.

I would love for you to join the conversation through 
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October 16, 2013

And the month's focus changes to the other side.

My goal this month was to write the first half of the month on tearing walls down, and the second half on putting them in place. Not that 15 days is long enough to clear the rubble if you did bring a wall down, nor is it time to pull all your walls down. So, as I progress know that we really have to do both at the same time. As we take down walls which are built for the wrong reason we can put walls up which are protective but open.

This is where I am fully honest with you: I am struggling.

I am questioning my writing, this topic, self-defense, my abilities, my crochet, my decisions, and me. These doubts and insecurities are the cause of many a wall in my life, and so I feel as if I am sitting behind not just brick but stone and cement and iron. I feel a little fake when I tell you to tear your walls down when I still have so many to tackle.

But I know that we aren’t all quick to change. I know that it takes time to undo what has been done. I know that for some days I move forward, I have half a day of slipping back, but we are moving in the right direction.

What I share for the rest of the month are helps in dealing with people, where to set boundaries to keep us safe, how love doesn’t always look like rainbows and sunshine, and how some days are hard but that’s why we need community: to help one another.

In another attempt to be fully honest with you: my community is very small.

I don’t have a thousand people close to me, nor a dozen who I can trust fully, but I have a few people I can fully depend on. There is no magic number you should strive for, nor should the relationships work in designated ways. But that’s what this is all about, right? Learning to open up our hearts, allow people in our lives, and do it all in a safe, respectful, honest way.

As you continue reading please please remember: I’m learning along this journey myself. You may have something which I need to hear, you may know more than I do, and you may have experience which contradicts what I am learning: Please share.

And now, how to build relationships with boundaries for our safety.

The list of all the posts for this series can be found in the Table of Contents.

I would love for you to join the conversation through 
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October 15, 2013

The Wall Around Your Heart

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Today Mary Demuth's book is ready to go home with you. If you pre-ordered you should receive it soon, and if you didn't you can order it now and have little to no waiting time! This book has been important in my learning about some walls in my life, but her path through the Lord's Prayer has helped me in bringing those walls down as well. If you are considering buying this book I highly recommend it, but here is some more information that might sway you if you are still on the fence.

No matter how someone else has injured you – betrayal, abuse, abandonment, manipulation, neglect, physical harm, exploitation – The Wall Around Your Heart will be a balm of healing, because no injury is too great for Jesus to mend. If you are drowning in pain or bitterness or shock from a broken relationship, start on the first page of this book and set it down at the end healed. – Jen Hatmaker, author of 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess

The Body of Christ is beautiful, and I’m glad to limp along with them in this crazy journey of faith. Along the way, I sometimes step on someone’s toes, or someone steps on mine. Mary has written this guidebook to help successfully navigate those seasons where I’m tempted to hold a grudge and give up on the Body of Christ. Using the Lord’s Prayer — each line — as a prompt, I’m reminded of God’s desire to heal and comfort me in each of my relationships; especially the ones in which I have been deeply hurt, and even broken.  – Deidra Riggs, writer, deidrariggs.com, managing editor, TheHighCalling.org

How the book has and is affecting those who have read it: 31 Days of open hearted living

And finally a word from the author. (Please go watch the video!)

The list of all the posts for this series can be found in the Table of Contents.

I would love for you to join the conversation through 
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