Setting Boundaries and Rejoicing in the Conflict
My wife is a fan of Henry Cloud’s Boundaries books. For those with relationship problems, Cloud’s encouragement to set healthy boundaries is a much-needed step toward freedom.
When someone objects to your views or demands that you change your actions to suit them, it creates conflict. If you do as they ask, it makes them happy. But it makes you unhappy. There’s always the fear that if you don’t do what they ask, they’ll leave. Fear keeps you under their control. Relationships based on fear and control are toxic. The path to freedom requires that boundaries be set.
Setting boundaries means letting them know you’re not going to be coerced or manipulated into doing things their way. It’s doing what you want and thinking what you want without allowing their expectations to control you. Even if they decide to leave. That’s the risk of setting boundaries.
When a person is accustomed to having their way and you establish a new rule (a boundary) it removes their control. When they lose control, they’ll try to get it back. It may be a verbal outburst, a threat of retaliation or physical violence. You should expect a reaction that tests the new boundary.
Cloud encourages us to “rejoice in the conflict.” The pushback is a sign that the boundary has been recognized and it’s having its intended effect. When you enforce the boundary, it changes the relationship. You’re in control instead of them.
Boundaries are needed both for individuals and society. And recently, new boundaries have been established in society that are causing conflict.
In places where violence is found, it can usually be traced back to a boundary that’s being tested. The rioting at UC Berkely during the appearance of Milo Yiannopoulos is an example. Milo brought a message that challenged the consensus of opinion at Berkeley and he was violently opposed. The boundaries of free speech were being tested.
Politicians have talked for years about immigration reform. But no action has been taken because strict enforcement of immigration is perceived by some as being mean-spirited or racist. Politicians have danced around the issue because they fear the opinions of voters. This year, someone was elected to the White House who isn’t afraid of being labeled a racist. He’s not giving in to fear. He’s enforcing immigration laws and in doing so—establishing a new boundary. And there’s been tremendous pushback.
That’s what happens when you set boundaries.
I’ve been contacted by friends who miss the “old Praying Medic.” The one who wrote about the supernatural and never discussed politics. Some of my friends aren’t interested in politics. They want me to focus exclusively on the supernatural. Some loathe our new President and don’t like seeing him cast in a positive light. Others are interested in what I have to say about him.
It’s clear that I’m not going to please everyone. When you try making everyone happy, you only make yourself miserable.
What’s a medic to do?
I’m more interested in relationships based on freedom than ones based on control. Freedom (in relationships) means allowing others to be who they are, without placing demands or expectations on them. If I allow you to place expectations on me, that puts me under your control. I can only write about the subjects you’re interested in. And when I fail to meet that expectation, you’re going to be disappointed. That arrangement doesn’t work for either of us.
Last year, I asked God for an assignment. I wanted to know His heart about politics and I determined that whatever He revealed, I’d share with you. I didn’t ask for revelation about Donald Trump. Frankly, I thought He’d speak about someone else. (That’s the risk you take when you let God speak freely.) Now it seems, I’ll be receiving more revelation about our new President.
I plan to continue writing about the supernatural. It’s my passion. I have many more books planned on healing and miracles. (Some of them are nearly complete.) But I also plan to write about politics from time to time. Because I believe it’s a subject that’s near to God’s heart.
If political discussions offend you, I’m sorry. That’s not my intent. But at this point in our relationship, I need to establish a boundary. I’m going to continue sharing what I hear God saying, even if the people I love and respect find it offensive. Even if it causes them to unfollow, unfriend or block me on social media.
It’s difficult to rejoice in that kind of conflict. No one wants to alienate their friends. But making these decisions is a part of life. And I can’t very well let my fears determine the subjects I write about.
If you decide to stop following me, I understand, and I wish you the best.
If you decide to stay, I want you to know that I appreciate your support and you have my gratitude for allowing me to live my life the way God intended.