It can be so debilitating to be told ‘you need to have boundaries,’ but as you grow the heart, a new empowered strength slowly builds within.
‘You really need to have boundaries’
How many times have you heard this said or even said it yourself?
I always feel a little cringe when I hear these words. There is just something about it that sounds legalistic, mechanical, rules bound, and policy-driven.
Nothing of the heart or any internal depth to it.
This is why I prefer ‘Lines of love of respect.’ It seems to connect better to something that is of heart value. Something that is evolving.
It also sounds condemning.
You know you need boundaries, but you don’t know how to get there. It’s like there is a lack of internal strength even to define a boundary, express it and potentially enforce it.
Condemning because it’s yet another mountain too high to climb.
Perhaps this boundary stuff is an inside-out evolution.
Evolution of the heart
The unfurling of a fern frond is something that has captured my imagination for many years. It’s part of the logo for Turning the Page.
Here in New Zealand, we call it the Koru ((Māori for ‘loop or coil’) and is the spiral shape based on the appearance of a new unfurling silver fern frond.
There is a natural energy that pours through the fern to unfold its inner beauty and strength. It’s an evolution.
There is a movement from the inside out.
An unfolding of its God-designed deep inner beauty and purpose.
I believe that we are much like this uncurling frond. If you try to force the process, you will break it. It’s got to happen in its own time and its own way.
Some words to consider.
- Volution – A turn or twist about a center; a spiral.
- Evolution – the gradual development of something. An unspiraling.
The most beautiful birthings I have given witness to are when someone has done the hard inside-out work. They have gone deep into the core of who they are and the beliefs they have held.
Toxic negative beliefs about themselves have been gently replaced by life-giving truth. The birth was not easy (never is), but it resulted from something growing within.
The heart is issuing, or giving out, a newness of life.
Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23
The heart has grown from within. It hasn’t been forced or manipulated; it’s been a natural outcome of doing the work.
Often part of the process is to examine the toxic waste that has gathered around the heart and poisoned its true beauty and purpose.
Shedding the toxic waste
There is a toxic waste that often gets revealed through the conversations we have. The little put-downs, controlling attitudes, self-condemnation we say to ourselves and others.
Our heart speaks out both good and bad in our words and actions.
The heart overflows in the words a person speaks; your words reveal what’s within your heart. Luke 6:45
If we are aware of the toxin, we try to hide it, but so often, we may not even know we have some toxic, poisoned, stinky – thinky going on in our hearts.
Perhaps the groupings and relationships we have, develop and maintain the waste line. I wonder how many in Churches are trapped in groupthink.
Toxic theologies abound. You can read some of them here.
- To Heal You Just Need to ‘Forget What Lies Behind’
- Are you Praying Against Yourself? The Abusive Art of Self-Deprecation
- Your Faith has Made you Unwell
- Does ‘Turning the other cheek’ mean I have to keep taking abuse?
Growing your heart
There is such a gentleness to this heart evolution that it’s hard to define. But it’s all enveloped in love. Love from others and a growing love and respect for the self.
That Koru of unfolding fern wouldn’t stand a chance out in the desert. Rather it needs the protection and nourishment of a sun filtred forest.
Discovering your truest value and worth is not self-centered narcissism; it’s more coming in line with the way you were always intended to be. The healed heart can issue out life-giving abundance to others.
Our hearts come to have empowered lines of love and respect when we recognize that what’s inside is worthy of protection and nourishment.
When we self-denigrate and put down our deepest value and worth, we continue to have flimsy boundaries. The winds and words of others easily crush us.
Shoring up with sandbags
There is a flood coming.
It’s going to sweep into your home and destroy your most precious possessions. So you gather sandbags and build yourself a wall of protection.
It takes effort and time, but you fill bags and build bag upon bag upon bag.
The waters come, but you have built a barrier, a boundary, a line of love and respect for what you hold most dear to your self.
You would do this for your physical home, but what about for something even more precious – your heart.
Recently I have been building a sandbag wall to protect my heart from the intrusive hurtful voices of others and my inner critic. I have been giving my heart new food to feed itself on.
Affirming the truth about ourselves
Something I have been doing every day for the past four months is to listen to a series of short affirmations I have audio recorded for myself.
These are short sentences that I want my heart to hear and believe. I want my heart to evolve out of these short-spoken truths.
The first one I hear every morning is this.
I am Zakar. I am remembering and moving into my world. I am leaving a mark. I am male. (read more about Zakar here)
Some others are
- I am focusing on the positive/good things, and this gives me hope.
- I am giving my heart new beliefs to feed on
- I am resting my mind on God’s truth for me, and this is slowly shaping my brain.
- I am discounting my mistakes before they discount me
- I am holding myself to a standard of grace, not perfection
- I am building my life on great thoughts repeated over and over again until they are programmed in.
There is gentle intentionality to the strengthening of my heart.
That Koru beauty and purpose within my heart is slowly and gently growing in strength. Winds and abuses come and brush up against it. It hurts, but there’s a depth and resilience to the new me that is unfolding.
Perhaps if I were a woman, I would want to say to my heart these words.
I am Naqebah. I am revealing the beauty of God. I am displaying beauty. I am female. (read more about Naqebah here)
This beauty I am talking about is not about physical appearance; it’s more about a deep inner beauty that reflects something of God’s own beauty. It is a beauty that needs to be revealed to be known.
When we develop these core beliefs about who we truly are, then the boundaries, the lines of love and respect, the sandbags are strengthened.
As we nourish the heart we build our boundaries, our lines of love and respect from the inside out. It’s an unfurling of our deepest self.
Quotes to consider
- Human life must be about more than building boundaries, protecting identities, and teaching impulse control. Richard Rohr
- To shift a truth from your head to your heart, speak it loud, speak it often, and make a deliberate choice to believe it. David Riddell
- The role of heart and mind is to cooperate with truth by opening to love. We need the mind to know the truth of the heart, and we need the heart to know the truth of the mind. David G. Benner
- Real self-esteem comes from within; it is the existential, spiritual truth that we have value and worth intrinsically, because we are here and breathing, not because of anything we have or can do, nor how others regard us. Terrence Real
Questions to answer
- When someone says to you ‘You need boundaries’ what goes on in your heart? What emotions get triggered?
- What toxic stinky-thinky do you need to be healed from your heart?
- What beauty and/or purpose needs to be released, unfurled, from your heart?