Pictionary

Everyone has their own boundaries. You can’t force yours on them. You can’t predict that they can read your mind or heart and voluntarily understand those boundaries. Just because you would trust another person with your life doesn’t mean you’ll let them paint your kitchen hot pink.

Well beyond walls shades, I’m referring to personal boundaries. I seem to get myself in the same predicament time and time again. With people I love. With people I trust. But with people who do not NEED the same boundaries as me. I use the word need with intention, because I do not mean to sound pious.

Maturity is recognizing where one needs boundaries and establishing them while not criticizing others for their lack in that area.

They have boundaries that YOU don’t need.

You may not call them boundaries. Call them convictions. Call them “drawing the line.” Call them what you want. I am not specifically talking about areas of sin, although in one particular boundary of mine, whether it is the universal three-letter word is debatable. I am also not specifically talking about a boundary such as “I don’t eat past 8 at night.” I am not defining boundaries here in terms of “I’m doing this because I want to be able to say I do.”

I am specifically speaking about boundaries that, if properly drawn, will glorify God while simultaneously keeping your flesh in line.

As a young child, I was easily influenced by romances of any sort. I have heard it said once that an image will stick in your mind long after the words are gone. Before I even knew what wisdom really was, I determined to stay away from TV because of the negative affect it had on me. My family and friends thought I was judging them for watching it. That was debatable… because there were some things I would have been able to throw verses at. (Don’t judge people because they sin differently than you, I always say.) But as a whole I was not. I simply knew myself. And I knew the horrible affects that it had on me.

And so, for the ultimate glory of God, and so as not to give the enemy the opportunity to strip me of my weapons for any length of time (as he has done in the past through obsession over something I have watched), I decided to abstain from those types of movies or shows until I was married. The feeling of discontentment and the worry about the future that accompanied it simply was not worth the momentary entertainment.

As recently as a couple months ago, I took a teenager friend of mine to a movie. She left saying it was the best movie ever. All I remember is sitting on lover’s row in the back of the theatre and shrinking down in my seat while watching a sex scene with my pastor’s daughter. My point here is not that she was desensitized or to claim that she condones premarital sex. What I am trying to communicate is this:

I STILL CAN’T HANDLE IT.

It annoys me that I am this way. I have fought with God about why it affects me as it does. It ruins entire movies for me. I completely shut down. And then I rehearse the scenes and compare myself and wonder if I measure up. I doubt my husband’s love for me sans those romantic things and wonder if we will ever be as happy as those people. And you know what makes me the maddest? (Is that a word?) Is that I relinquish territory to the enemy for him to use against me. And I squander time I could be praising God and uplifting His kingdom because I’m wrapped up in my own little world, obsessing about my fault, being angry at how they ruined a perfectly good movie, and drafting letters to Hollywood about how no one’s first kiss is 15.3 minutes long.

But it’s no one’s fault but my own. I don’t have to watch it.

I get to choose. And I do not condemn others who can watch violence, hear language, see more than enough skin, or who recommend them to me. Perhaps it doesn’t affect them. But I answer for me. And like it or not, it affects me.

I would wager to say, especially in this day and age of an alarming percentage of women becoming hooked on pornography, that I am not alone in this. And so I am asking for you to stand with me. Have courage to draw your boundaries…For YOU and no one else. Just bail out on the movie night with your friends. Again, I am not writing this so that you can judge others. Mr. Other doesn’t have the same challenges or areas of temptation as you. For the life of me, I have tried to figure out why this seeming stronghold is here, but regardless, it is my thorn in the flesh. You have one, too. Sometimes, the Bible says moderation. Or pray. And sometimes it says flee. Take courage and recognize your soft spot and flee.

One of my dear friends fled Facebook. I applaud her although her social media presence is missed. Another friend flees buffets. You just simply can’t eat as much as you paid for. Well, you can, but I wouldn’t recommend it. (Therein lies the problem.) Another friend must have a certain amount of sleep a night and she has it down to the minute. To compromise in this area is to make those around her the next day want to call in sick. COUNT THE COST. Is the consequence worth it to you?

Or, to word it another way: is Jesus worth it to you?

There may be something you can’t avoid. In those cases, get an accountability partner who knows your heart’s desire and will agree with you for the accomplishment of your results. My sweet husband has now gotten to the place that when something comes on the screen that he knows will violate my conscience, he’ll just look at me and say, “You ready for bed?” It endears me to him so much that he cares enough about me to turn off something that doesn’t seemingly bother or affect him.

The older you get, the more you realize that life isn’t fair. And you get over it.

Don’t give over that ground. Our forefathers fought for freedom, and it is a lost meaning on our generation because we haven’t had to fight for anything. But I’m asking you to fight for the freedom God has given you. Freedom to make choices that you know are best for you. Not that are best for everyone else. Not so you can be better than others.

So that you can be a better you. For yourself. For others. For Jesus.

Advertisements

Tartar Sauce

The sun shone through the tree limbs and made patterns on my legs. This will be the last time I come fishing in shorts this year, I thought to myself. The pond was gorgeous. I wished we owned it. It was surrounded by steep forest on two sides. One bank was high and clear. The other bank was a flat plain under what appeared to be a mountain. Horses were roaming under weeping willows to stay cool and there was a flock of turkeys plucking for grasshoppers along one slope. As I looked across the pond, there was a small clearing. I noticed that every time I glanced up there, there was a cow or a horse there. It must have been a good place to graze.

He got out his fishing collection, which was almost as extensive as my earring stash. He baited my line and the worm went sprawling into the center of the pond. I was content to just sit there and muse. I was thoroughly enjoying the day. The weather. The squirrels chattering. The wind. The beautiful all around me.

He, on the other hand, was not content to mosey around the pond. He found the farthest corner and honed in. He would no sooner toss in his line than he would get a bite. He loved every minute of the chase. All I heard for two hours out of the man was, “I got one!!” and “Ohhhh dang it!” Even after he caught the fish, he was back in the same corner trying to get the ones who were hiding.

Sometimes the people who hurt the most are hiding. They are hiding behind facades, hiding behind their masks, hoping that no one will figure them out or take the time to get to know them. But in fact they are DYING to be discovered. Often the most withdrawn are the most insecure and one kind word would make all the difference in the world to them.

I begged him to let the fish have the worm for all its trouble. He assures me it doesn’t hurt the fish, but I doubt it. But the fish was too scared to enjoy his treat. And so my husband threw him back.

You can’t always live other people’s lives for them. You can’t always give them all the advice you have even with the hopes that they will learn from your mistakes. Sometimes people just need to learn the lessons themselves. But what they always need to hear from you is the affirmation that you love them. And then you kick them back on their feet and throw them back out into the world to try again. The taste of freedom is enough to make a man never want to be caught again.

“I think you just keep catching the same fish over and over again.”

A smile played on the corner of his lips. “If it is, he sure is a stupid fish.”

“Or a hungry one.” He had bought two cartons of worms and refused to rebait until only a centimeter of a worm was left concealing the hook. “Why don’t you give him something worth fighting for? There isn’t even a worm left on there.”

He carefully and gingerly reeled in his line and then tossed it back out. “What doesn’t look like a worm to you is a challenge for a fish.”

I thought back to all my years of trying to make friendships. I always picked the challenges. I targeted the pretty girls, the popular girls, the girls with more friends than they had nail polish colors. And I was disappointed. Almost every time.

I reeled back in and re-cast into the same area. The fish knew where the party was, and they were all over in the corner. I’m not really here to catch anything, anyway. Just to spend time with my man.

But you know what? You can fish from the middle of the pond and lead a relatively easy life with no one rocking the boat but you’ll never find fulfillment there. You’ll always be searching for your purpose and battling depression and wondering why you’re here. It’s not until you enter the trenches and get down to the nitty gritty and start finding security in Christ the Provider instead of in your posse that you will be happy and satisfied. He didn’t call us to necessarily lead easy, carefree lives. I think sometimes He is begging me to leave my ho-hum and go to those who lurk in the corners.

But then we get into the messy expectations. I expect that if I give someone a worm, and they take it, they’ll be loyal for life. They’ll love me and favorite my tweets and follow me on Instagram and comment on my status updates. I assume they’ll call me every few weeks and write on my wall and send me birthday cards. With one kind act, I project healthy relationships into the future.

Fish can be greedy. They don’t care about the fisherman as long as they get what they want. And no matter how many times we have provided them with lunch, if someone else comes along with a juicier night crawler, they’re bailing on me. And then I see the game for what it is and I become bitter and jaded and give up fishing altogether. Have you ever felt like you’ve invested so much only to be abandoned? Only to have people be ungrateful? Only to feel taken advantage of?

I reeled in my line and tossed it over the man’s head. “You just crossed my line, Booboo. Give your rod here… I’ll untangle them.” I gladly let him. I had no desire to untangle my relationships. It was much easier to snip the line than to try to figure out where things went wrong. There are other fish in the sea, I always say.

There is a touchy balance between spending your entire life focused on people who don’t care about you and cutting them off completely. Jesus says to pour coals of fire on your enemy’s head, and so, I do that. They say to turn the other cheek, and so I try to do that. They say to give to those who despitefully use you.

And I’ve done that, too. Trying to win favor and at least juice out a drip of gratefulness. But I have come to the place where the fixation is unhealthy for me. And so I get out the scissors. I’m tired of feeling guilty for not reaching out to people who make no efforts to reach out to me. The unreplied texts time after time. The only communication that does take place is to benefit them. The acts of kindness are not even acknowledged.

And then, I see people in the corner hiding who pretend they don’t want to be found but who would think I handed them the moon if they found a card in their mailbox. They may not be the people I targeted, but they are the people that Jesus targeted. The most unlikely. The least of these. And He commanded me to open my eyes to the world around me who needed me. The widows. The children. The poor.

And, oddly enough, the people who do love me.

Sometimes they get overlooked as I’m out trying to love on people who could care less about me.

Why am I always feeling guilty about not reaching out more to people who never reach out to me? It is all too easy to get bitter loving people who didn’t love back. God has finally put my mind at ease and told me it was okay to give the people who love me my best. I’m no longer using gifts to request acceptance from unapproachable and ungrateful people. The ones who love me get my best. This is the definition of non-dysfunctional relationships.

I’ll save my caramel apples for the people who will really appreciate them.

I cast the line into the corner. “You should have married a different chick if you wanted a fisher-wife. Someone who likes camo, at least.”

There was a long pause. “Booboo, you can do anything you put your mind to.”

He’s right. And I want the mind of Christ.

He invested his life in 12 men for most of his life. One betrayed him. But the other 11 were his groupies. They were there until the end. They provided the support to allow Him to reach out to the ugly and the sick and the needy.

Instead of trying to increase our groups, perhaps we need to stop overlooking the people in our lives who are there. No. Matter. What.

“Got ‘m! Shew. He was a fiesty one.” He held up his prize and grinned.

I really do love fish. All the hours that it takes to catch one is worth every effort. It may be messy and stinky and take a lot of patience, but it’s all worth it. And that one fish will make you forget about all the other fish who got away.