For the last week, I’ve been listening to an audiobook called Boundaries by Dr.Henry Cloud and John Townsend. It’s a Christian, nonfiction, self-help book about setting up the right boundaries, when to say yes or no and taking control of our lives.
It’s an inspiring book that’s definitely making me think. I’d already been learning how to introduce boundaries, over the last month, so this book couldn’t have come at a better time! I love that the authors write about Christians not realizing that they can set up boundaries and still be loving. Many of us might be thinking that boundaries can’t be established when trying to share the Gospel with others; however, they are actually vitally important! It doesn’t matter how big or how small, everyone should have boundaries and if you’re planning on getting to know someone on a deeper level, they need to be established as soon as possible.
As I’ve been listening to this book, purity has been a reoccurring thought, in my mind, and I’ve concluded that boundaries and purity walk hand in hand with one another. When I say purity, I mean more than staying abstinent until marriage, which I will write about more below. I strive to live a pure life, but that doesn’t mean temptations don’t come my way. With the right boundaries and strong willpower, however, I will not fall easily into the things that tempt me.
1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
Africa was a new playground for me. I was surrounded by non-believers, and there were many things going on that I didn’t necessarily agree with. That said, I didn’t let it take away from my personal experience and was able to use it to test my strength and conscience.
I’ve always been a physical person, if you need a hug, I’m all in; but, what happens when someone wants more? Would you be able to tell them no?
Saying no has always been difficult for me because I hate hurting people, but I’ve realized that when absolutely necessary, I have no problem speaking my mind and telling someone to back off a bit, haha.
In the book, it explains that setting up boundaries may hurt, but they won’t cause harm. They used the example of going to the dentist to get a cavity removed, it hurt at the time, but it didn’t cause harm.
“Things can hurt and not harm us. In fact, they can even be good for us. And things that feel good can be very harmful to us. You need to evaluate the effects of setting boundaries and be responsible to the other person, but that does not mean you should avoid setting boundaries because someone responds with hurt or anger.”
– Boundaries, Dr.Henry Cloud and John Townsend (1992)
We can still be loving while telling someone no. Talking about your standards and setting limits is an awesome way to start this conversation! Over the last month, I’ve learned that communication can be really incredible and will stop you from being put into an awkward position you didn’t wish to be in, in the first place.
1 Timothy 4:12, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”
I’m not here to claim that I’m the new spokesperson for purity. I don’t have all the answers or always set the right example, but I do have words to share from my experiences and through what God has been teaching me.
“…Do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.” 1 Timothy 5:22
Just because others think or walk through life differently to you, doesn’t mean you need to follow after them in order to fit in or feel like you’re a part of the crowd. You can still become friends and form bonds with those people, but saying no to the things they do is entirely your right! In fact, if they’re the right kind of people, they will respect your decisions and admire you more for your diversity.
To me, staying pure means that I refrain from premarital sex, swearing, wearing promiscuous clothing, doing things that would dishonor God, thinking unclean thoughts, and putting myself in a position with a man that could lead to the first example I gave above.
I know that this list might seem like a lot, but over the years I’ve learned how naturally it comes. When you believe in living a certain way and have a strong conscience, these things are not that difficult to keep. Granted, I might let a swear word slip here or there and my thoughts might not always be squeaky clean, but I don’t allow it to become a regular habit.
To others who don’t live this way, these examples of purity might seem crazy and unnecessary, but that doesn’t mean you have to hide your beliefs to fit into their mold. I was having a conversation with a friend, the other night, and as the conversation progressed, I realized that our topic wasn’t one I wanted to be discussing at that moment. So, I chose to change the subject and later wrote him a text to say that from now on, that subject was a no-go zone and the reasons why. He responded amazingly! Instead of getting upset or saying that I was overreacting, he apologized and said that he forgot he was talking to a different kind of girl (cue DC Talk’s That Kinda Girl) and completely respected everything I wrote.
This response put a smile on my face because even though I was nervous about sending my message, I knew that it would show where we were both at and would determine if our friendship would continue. We should never be scared to set up boundaries to keep our relationships pure and Godly (even if the other party isn’t spiritual).
My usual thought when needing to talk seriously and not knowing how someone else is going to respond is, “What have I got to lose?” We might really like these people, but if they’re not respectful and hurting us with the way they live their lives, then we need to decide whether or not we’re going to say goodbye or continue letting them desensitize us.
As a young woman, this is one of the most important lessons I could learn. When we leave home and go to college, travel, or start our first “adult” job, we are exposed to the world in a new way and no longer have our parents by our sides to guide us. It is a time where we will realize what we agreed with, growing up, and what we did not. Some might continue walking in the ways they were taught, while others will go the complete opposite and have to learn things for themselves all over again.
Are you striving to live a pure life? Or, is this completely new territory for you? Maybe you stopped living pure, and wish to start again; well, it’s never too late.
No matter where you are in your life, if you decide you want to stop living the way everyone around you is, or you no longer wish to follow the path you’re currently on; please know that you can make that happen at any time! God is forgiving and will never turn away anyone who desires to turn their lives around!
We all need to experience and learn life for ourselves, forming our own beliefs in the process, as a part of growing up. To me, developing our own beliefs is a significant step into the direction of having a personal relationship with God, rather than dependently following our family’s faith. Thankfully, during this process, God is always there to guide us and will be waiting with His arms wide open whenever we slip up!
“While he (the prodigal son) was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” Luke 15:20
I encourage you to go back and read Luke 15:11-32, because the parable of the prodigal son is the best example of God’s love for His people. The son was greedy and selfish, but even though he’d left his father’s house and returned with nothing, his father embraced him and called for the best calf to be prepared for a meal and celebration, upon his return! Many people mistranslate this parable as an actual story when in reality, this is was another allegory Yeshua/Jesus used to explain Israel’s return to God. We are all lost sons/daughters, but we don’t have to stay lost. Don’t be afraid to set up boundaries or say no, what have you go to lose?