Everyday Grace, God's Deep Love

Redrawing the Boundary Lines

Boundaries are hard.

And this post is hard to write because boundaries are something that are easy for me to teach and preach but hard for me to submit to in my own life.

Because I’m a people pleaser.

And there are expectations on me and I want to meet them because then people will need me and want me around and I will be valuable to them.

And that’s messed up and messy and a miserable place to be.

And I thought I had all this all figured out.

God, Family, Other stuff.

But I didn’t. My head had all this figured out but my will and my treasure was not focused in these directions.

God, Family, Other stuff.

This was not the order. The order became other stuff, family, God, sometimes.

I have boundaries like our old Basset Hound, Zelda, had boundaries. If you know anything about hounds, they get the scent, put their head down, and follow, boundaries be darned.

Following it through traffic, through staff rooms and mail rooms. It’s a climbing-on-top-of-1997-Ford-Mustangs-to-scale-6-foot-fences-with-your-4-inch-legs kind of following.

And that’s what I was doing. I was following a goal to the good of that goal and the detriment of everything else. Because that’s how it happens for me sometimes, and maybe it happens for you, that all the things are good things but all the good things are in the wrong order.

And the good things take the place of the best things.

So I found myself weeping on a stool in our garage as my husband gently reminded me that saying no is sometimes the most loving and holy thing you can do for yourself.

That saying no to the outward expectations and yes to the long-term potential for family memories is a sacred space and healing place.

That the outside world and my world would not crash and burn if they did not intersect for one day.

Because if you’re like me, then you begin to believe the lie that the things that bring you accolades are the same that bring you nourishment.

That the  approval of one who seems great is not worth disappointing the heart of the one that is tiny and trusting.

When I turn my heart to what is the less permanent treasure, when I lose sight of the God then family, I lose focus and direction.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also

Matthew 6:21

Sitting on that too tall for comfort garage stool I realized that my focus was outside-in and backwards. That I was so tied up in outward expectations that inwardly I was slowly wasting away. And the decisions I was making, so concerned about doing my duty, for being accountable to what I had signed up for, were decisions that meant saying no to the nourishment from God and nourishing of family.

I was all wrong and boundary-less.

My heart and my head needed to align. My sight needed to focus in on the one who creates and gives life.

And I needed to re-draw the boundary lines in my memory and intentions.

To remember that the fleeting Samaritan interaction does not compare with the memory stored in a child’s heart.

To remember that I am God’s treasure stored in this jar of clay. That I am free to choose, free to seek and strive.


That I am freed to be free of the outward expectation when it does not align with the still small voice heard in the quiet seeking.

The tears on the garage stool were healing, full of purpose and repentance.

Because that’s what Jesus offers when we need to reorient and walk our boundary lines. Direction, clarity, courage, and sure-footed peace.

4 thoughts on “Redrawing the Boundary Lines

  1. Aww, Mandy, my friend… my tears pressed as I read this; tears for you as you faced this moment. I also understand the ongoing work of boundaries, and then realignment, when one finally figures out that things are jumbled. So from one realignment worker to another, thank you for your transparency and sharing your heart so clearly as you do. You are a blessing even while perched on God’s ‘time-out’ stool in the garage, pressing pause, taking that deep breath and shedding the tears of all things healing because He knows, and I am coming to learn, that you are a willing student who will take the lessons and share them as He leads you. In the hamster-wheel of other things that are my present life, He’s been pointing me towards my stool & that I have been nodding at Him as my thoughts whirl. You’ve just reminded me that I need to stop the nodding, to just sit down and get started listening for His still small voice directing me towards the best things. I must also concede, seeing as I find myself at this spot often in life, that this is a life lesson in and of itself for me.

  2. Mandy, your words are choice, your reflections are sincere and heartening. The craft of your blog stirs my inspiration, you have a gift of expression. But this is a surface thing, one of value to me -your reader. What resonates with my heart is the time evidenced in sorting through, understanding and dealing with your crisis. This is the treasure I see, treasure for your relationship with God, treasure for your family -those precious hearts that hold you so close- and treasure for your engagement with the body of Christ.
    Thank you for sharing!
    …and remember, God is already pleased with you, His precious daughter, whose heart is tiny and trusting…

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