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Monday, December 11, 2017

Boundaries: Speaking Into People's Lives

I've read this years ago, but I'm reading it again for a college course.  The book called Boundaries, by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend, is a must-read.  When applied, it is life changing.  Something that it provoked, and that many of us wrestle with, is how and when to speak into the lives of people we care about. 

This question came to mind, and I believe it is key to understand about ourselves prior to having a conversation with someone: Is my concern rooted in love or rooted in fear? And how do I know?  The answer may vary depending on the person whom concerns you.  People affect us differently.  Often we think that love is the driving force to confront, or persuade, but if we are honest, we may discover that fear is an underlying motivation.  It is worth considering this every time, because fear is deceptive and destructive.

When you see a family member or friend intertwined in destructive behavior or dysfunctional thought patterns, understand that their perspective of reality may be drastically different from yours. More than likely (you can count on it) this is true. What one sees as normal, another sees as abnormal. And regardless of what you think, it is only from a place of being "rooted and grounded in love" that people will respond to truth (Ephesians 3:17 NKJV).  

It is not good enough if I think I am coming from a place of love.  What matters is that the person knows and feels my love for them first.  If I am not sure, I need to ask.  What a concept!  I think most of us would rather not know and hope for the best, but doing so allows us to live in an illusion, not in reality.  

If your relationship is strained or without joyful fellowship, you will not be well received when you correct.  Find opportunities to love first.  Love is shown mostly simply through undivided attention without offering advice to fix or improve.  Listening is absolutely necessary for building relationships of trust.  Being closed-off to hearing a new perspective will disqualify you from having influence. Truth is: you don't have it all figured out - and you never will. So to assume you know what's right or best, you have already made error.

Thinking Your Way Into Your Own Life - First
What are the thoughts that continually roll around in your head? Our thoughts drive us to react or respond.  Do your thoughts produce toxic emotions of fear, worry, despair - or do they produce emotions of peace, hope, joy?  Reaction comes from a place of fear.  Response comes from a place of peace.  We all fall short in this area.  What's important is that we are honest and gracious with ourselves.  Time cannot be rushed in the process of self-awareness.  It takes a brave person to consider openly, how your thoughts and behaviors affect people.  

Maybe once a day, recognize and catch your thought before responding.  In that moment of waiting, give yourself a chance to respond in a way that is better for you and better for all those around you.  In small successes, we will dare to do it again.  

Remember, that people are drawn to others who are open about their struggles more than they are drawn to those who appear to have it all together.