Friday, March 16, 2018

Boundaries, By Dr Henry Cloud and Dr John Townsend

This book is one of the highest rated books on the topic of boundaries, and it is very Bible based. I DO recommend the book On page 61 they do the definition:

"Functional Boundaries refer to a person's ability to complete a task, project or job."
"Relational Boundaries refer to the ability to speak truth to others with whom we are in relationship"

Simple, huh?

Due to my contrarian nature, ll start with a critical thought: 

I find the term "boundaries" to be misleading. I understand the reason for the term, and the book does a great job of telling the people that REALLY need to develop some boundaries about how important they are, and how they "should" go about establishing them -- usually putting their foot down, standing 100% firm, and often taking the consequences -- loss of relationship, maybe violence or attempted violence, huge angry outburst, etc.

Obviously, if you are worried about a violent response, the person you are setting this boundary with walking out and never speaking with you again, giant anger, etc, then certainly, you REALLY need "boundaries" -- really best called "walls" in the context the book often talks about. To my mind, a WALL is something put up by one party (like the Berlin wall), and enforced with force -- maybe even "deadly force" as in "comply or this relationship is permanently over".

If I do my version, it will be called "loving contracts", or "good fences make good neighbors", or something of the like. My point is that there is a BIG difference between a neighbor going over to his neighbor and saying "I'd like to put up a fence -- dog issues, kid issues, your 16 year old daughter sunbathing naked is distracting my 13 year old boy, etc ... can we talk together about height, styles, etc over a beer" and you suddenly putting up a 20' lime green monstrosity and telling him "it's on the property line, get over it".

I think they wanted to cover this with page 66, "Don't even try to start setting limits until you have entered into deep abiding attachments with people who will love you no matter what".

Page 156 was important to me. "People don't make other people angry. Your anger has to come from something inside of you". Later; "Problems arise when we make someone else responsible for our needs and wants, and when we blame that person for our disappointments".

Bottom line, we all have to own our feelings -- we are ALL selfish, and we ALL seek to get our needs met by others (and for some needs, have to). In close relationships, that means that we deal with conflicting wants, and we need to NEGOTIATE ... which is much better than slapping up a 20' wall without consulting our "partner'.

Chapter 10, "Boundaries and your Children" needs to be made required reading for those seeking a license for having children. Oh, there isn't such a license? Damn.

"Discipline is an external boundary, designed to develop internal boundaries in our children. It provides a structure of safety until children have enough structure in their character to not need it". Later; "Discipline is not payment for a wrong. It is the natural law of God: our actions reap consequences. Discipline is different from punishment because God is finished punishing us. Punishment ended on the Cross for all those who accept Christ as Savior". 
I grew up on a farm. Hard work was as much a part of life as breathing, and I was a VERY lazy kid -- I still drew breath and worked. I also attended church, often with LOTS of bellyaching -- it was just the way it was. Fast forward to today -- unless parents have the intestinal fortitude to work HARD to insure their children learn responsibility and the fear of God, all bets are off. The Ten Commandments have been removed from most public buildings and certainly from the schools. "Honor your father and mother" is pretty much  considered a matter of discredited "mythology" rather than the only commandment with a promise. "Work" can be nigh on inaccessible at home given "convienience", while the Internet, video games, marketing, social media, etc are INTRUSIVE!

In the middle of 174, "The freedom of the Cross allows us to practice without having to pay a terrible price. The only danger is consequences, not isolation and judgment." .. THANKS BE TO GOD! Paul said in Timothy 1:15 "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst." ... he is right about Christ, he is wrong that he is the worst -- I've won that race in personal failure after personal failure for which I am most grievously at fault,

As I've been able to study more an more theology after retirement, the following becomes more and more clear, and more and more scary -- page 260:

"God gives a choice and allows the people involved to make up their minds. When people say no, he allows it and keeps on loving them. He is a giver. And one of the things he always gives is a choice, and like a real giver, he also gives the consequences of those choices. He respects boundaries." 

We live in a world where many people believe that "someone" or "some thing" can allow radically free choices, yet remove the consequences.  They often believe that their choices OUGHT to be free of consequences. People really "ought" to be able to do whatever they want and never suffer the consequences.

On page 121, the authors provide a ray of hope to those injured by "boundaries" that were really walls or 20' ugly fences with no consultation.

"If you set limits with someone and she responds maturely and lovingly, you can renegotiate the boundary. In addition, you can change the boundary if you are in a safer place". 
It is a worthy book, again, I highly recommend it. Just don't go out and put up a 20' chartreuse fence with your neighbor and expect them to bake you a cake ... and if they do, don't eat it!

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