The most important boundary you must set might surprise you.
It’s not the one you need to set with your kids, your toxic friend, or with your in-laws for that matter—as important as those boundaries are.
The most important boundary you must set is the one that protects your most important asset. It’s the line you draw around your soul. . .the guardrail you put in place to protect your emotional and spiritual health.
This boundary safeguards the daily practice you create to look inside—just twenty minutes at minimum—in order to find out what needs, wants, hurts, and longings are in need of your attention and God’s presence.
Hear me out on this one. I know most of us would say that our relationships are our most important asset. And, that’s true on many levels. But, here’s the thing:
It’s nearly impossible to be in a healthy relationship with others, if you’re not also in a healthy relationship with yourself.
For example, you can’t be in healthy relationship with others, if you’re so busy protecting yourself that you’re not really known. . . if you’re so busy running from your hard or painful feelings that you’ve lost sight of yourself.
It’s also hard to develop true intimacy if you’re always numbing your feelings or checking out. You can’t receive love from others, if you don’t know how to open your heart to your own needs and vulnerabilities.
And, as we discussed last month, you can’t be in healthy relationship with God, if you’re not bringing to him an honest awareness of your struggles. He doesn’t want your lip service, your going-through-the-motions, or your perfunctory “Time spent with God—Check!” Nor does he want your assurances that you’ll get it together for His glory. He wants what’s true, what’s real. . . what’s actually going on in your heart, soul, and mind. And, in order to bring to God that most honest version of yourself, you have to take time to notice the contents of your heart.
The most important boundary you set is the one that protects the holy work of tending your own heart, soul, and mind.
It’s the boundary you set to prioritize your work of soul mending. These boundaries safeguard regular practices of:
1.) Spending time alone with yourself and with God. This could be journaling, praying, sitting in silence, singing, creating, listening to a guided meditation, or reading God’s word and reflecting upon it honestly. It could be anything that helps you 1.) get more clarity on what’s going on inside of you and 2.) bring those thoughts and feelings to God honestly. Ideally, you’d take at least 20 minutes to practice connecting to yourself and God each day.
2.) Processing what you’re thinking and feeling with a trusted adviser. Not everyone can do this necessary soul work alone, and God works through other people. If you struggle to sit quietly with yourself, find a counselor, friend, prayer partner, or mentor and meet with that person regularly.
I cannot stress this enough:
Whether you do this work alone or do it with a trusted adviser, the most important boundary you can set is the one that protects your soul mending time.
Now, you might ask, “Aren’t boundaries about pushing out the bad, toxic elements in my life?” They can be, but if you don’t regularly carve out time to understand what is going on inside of you and what God is doing in your heart, it’s hard to discern how and when to set healthy boundaries in a clear, confident way with others in your life.
Growing in awareness of your needs, desires, and areas of wounding is how you understand the boundaries that you need to set.
You can’t communicate your needs to others, if you don’t first understand what they are.
Love requires both deep knowledge of yourself (intrapersonal intelligence) AND an understanding of others (interpersonal intelligence). Carefully guarding time to understand your own thoughts and feelings with God’s help is a critical ingredient to being healthy in relation to others.
Boundaries are necessary in even the healthiest of relationships. You can’t have connection without boundaries. And you can’t have boundaries without becoming more aware of your needs, desires, and struggles before God.
The key to becoming more emotionally and spiritually whole is to set the most important boundary. It’s the boundary that draws an iron-clad line around the time you spend being honest with yourself and with God.
Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
To learn the secret to setting boundaries for women, check out my new Boundaries for Women Video Course.