Boundaries; A Book Review

In 2017, I was having an issue with boundaries. That issue was, could I be a loving Christian and tell people no? Or was I supposed to burn myself out like a candle? 

A friend loaned me her copy of a book titled Boundaries. I took numerous scans of the pages for Evernote until I eventually got my own copy. It was that good, and I could mark up all I wanted.

Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life

by Henry Cloud, John Townsend

“Having clear boundaries is essential to a healthy, balanced lifestyle. A boundary is a personal property line that marks those things for which we are responsible. In other words, boundaries define who we are and who we are not. Boundaries impact all areas of our lives: Physical boundaries help us determine who may touch us and under what circumstances — Mental boundaries give us the freedom to have our own thoughts and opinions — Emotional boundaries help us to deal with our own emotions and disengage from the harmful, manipulative emotions of others — Spiritual boundaries help us to distinguish God’s will from our own and give us renewed awe for our Creator — Often, Christians focus so much on being loving and unselfish that they forget their own limits and limitations. When confronted with their lack of boundaries, they ask: – Can I set limits and still be a loving person? – What are legitimate boundaries? – What if someone is upset or hurt by my boundaries? – How do I answer someone who wants my time, love, energy, or money? – Aren’t boundaries selfish? – Why do I feel guilty or afraid when I consider setting boundaries? Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend offer biblically-based answers to these and other tough questions, showing us how to set healthy boundaries with our parents, spouses, children, friends, co-workers, and even ourselves.”

Since all my books on boundaries are hard copies but the one I’m currently reading, the quotes will be sparse. 

The book is broken up into three parts with illustrative stories scattered out to help you understand the concepts. The parts are What Are Boundaries?, Boundary Conflicts, and Developing Healthy Boundaries. 

I’ll quote from the addition in the updated edition on Boundaries and the Digital Age chapter.

The authors say with access to the internet literally at our fingertips 24-7 that we’re all now on-call. I’m guilty of it, and I’m sure you are too, of just pulling your Droid or iPhone out and start scrolling when you have actual people in front of you wanting to speak. Or worse, are talking to you at that moment. 

Boundaries are for keeping the bad out and the good in your life.

Here’s the point. Adhering to structures, boundaries, or rules can be very beneficial. But rules in and of themselves should not be your master, robbing you of freedom to do good for others or yourself. 

That is why I like to say it this way: Find the misery and make a rule. If there is an area of your life in which you are suffering, make a personal rule to keep it from hurting you.

pg 216

In a sidebar titled Are You Addicted, I blocked off this quote:

“If you are no longer in control of your device, your device is now your master. The apostle Paul warns us about this when he says, “I have the right to do anything, but I will not be mastered by anything” (1 Cor. 6:12). The same principle applies to your digital life. If you are incapable of not using it, you have been mastered.”

pg 219

The chapter addresses FOMO-Fear Of Missing Out and guidelines to help resolve issues with it. Rules such as engaging with the people you are with, observing regular non-digital time periods, and training people in your life not to expect an instant response. 

Focus on the face-to-face relationships. This chapter alone is worth reading the book. Just make sure it’s the updated version. It’s been beneficial to me, and I have gone on to buy and read three other books on boundaries that I’ll review for the rest of December and the first week of January. 

Five stars.

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