For a while I thought being a good follower of Jesus meant saying yes to everyone. I thought I was supposed to help anyone when asked and take every opportunity to serve. Isn’t this what Jesus meant when He said for us to lay our lives down?
A few years ago, we bought a house with a beautiful yard. This yard doesn’t look beautiful all by itself. First thing, my dad did when we got the house was he build the walls around the yard so that the street dogs won’t come in. After he got the walls setup we took the ownership of cleaning our yard and plant flowers so that it looks beautiful. It wouldn’t be possible if we didn’t get the walls done in the first place.
There’s work that was done in the yard, and it’s our job to make sure it’s taken care of. We may try to convince the neighbors to come over and do some yard work, but for how long? What happens in our yard is our responsibility, no one else’s.
I’m going to let you in on something: you have a yard too. It’s inside of you-your inner world. Self-control is knowing how to manage your yard. It’s having a say in what happens around you.
Now some of us may have crazy yards. It looks like we have no boundaries and all sorts of people and things are in our yard. It may be our parent’s feelings, partner’s choices, or friends’ attitudes. You know someone else is in your yard when you feel responsible for their happiness. If they’re unhappy, you start running around trying to figure out how to make them happy. You might say, “Ah!! I have to make you happy for things to be okay in my yard!” This is dangerous. We start to sacrifice our bodies, our minds, our wants, and our needs because we’re trying to make sure that other person is happy. Instead of stressing over their emotions, a better option would be to recognize that their feelings are not actually in your yard. They have to take ownership of their well-being, just like you have to take ownership of yours.
So how do we help people out of our yard? By setting boundaries.
Proverbs 25:8 says, “Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.”
Boundaries are necessary, to have walls that are healthy around our lives. What does this look like? People are adults, and they can act however they choose, so we can’t actually set limits on them. We can set limits on our exposure to people. We can give ourselves space from people who act or react in destructive or unhealthy ways. Part of being kind to yourself is not giving people full access to you all the time.
God loves everyone but yet out of everyone He chose Israel to be His nation even out of all the people in Israel Jesus chose only 12 disciples. It’s again interesting Jesus’ in His ministry though He has 12 disciples, I believe He had favourites (Peter, James and John) these three men got to experience things which other disciple couldn’t. Yet among all the three disciples John was the much loved disciple of Jesus and it’s written in John by John himself. You might be wondering what I am talking about. I would like to propose that Jesus in His ministry was so aware of the people who are around him. He didn’t allow everyone to have access to who He really is. It was the three disciples who got to see Jesus raising the dead girl from the bed, it was the three who got an opportunity to see Jesus transfigured radiant in the glory up in the mountain. Well, out of all these miraculous events yet John was the closest and much loved disciples who got the opportunity to see a vision and wrote the book Revelation. Jesus loved everyone and He actually died for everyone yet He had few people who were much closer to him.
I believe Jesus was trying to illustrate how setting up boundaries is effective and healthy. We don’t get exhausted and weary when we create boundaries and say ‘No’ to some people and yet love them equally. In order to have a healthy relationship, it’s important to develop the fruit of self-control were you don’t always say ‘Yes’ but let even our ‘No’ also be equally valued and powerful. This will help you to maintain your yard and this way the street dogs are outside the walls for they don’t have access to your world.
We set boundaries in our relationships to protect what God’s given us to steward. Taking responsibility for other people’s emotions is exhausting. If you feel surprisingly overwhelmed, you may have some people things in your yard that doesn’t belong there. Loving yourself well is making sure you do what you need to keep yourself healthy and whole. Instead of having people to have access to your insecurities allow God to come and heal you. You may get a little resistance from people at first, but in the end, you will be able to give your best to people in the times they do have access to you because you valued yourself enough to make sure you’re healthy, rested, and whole.