Beyond Boundaries; A Book Review

Alright, so you’ve read the boundary books, and you’re ready to let people back in. How do you do that? 

I recently read the book with that answer. It’s…

Beyond Boundaries: Learning to Trust Again in Relationships

“How do you know you’re ready to trust again … and what does it take to be ready?

Painful relationships violate our trust, causing us to close our hearts. But to experience the freedom and love God designed us for, we eventually have to take another risk.

In this breakthrough book, bestselling author Dr. John Townsend takes you beyond the pain of the past to discover how to re-enter a life of intimate relationships. Whether you’re trying to restore a current relationship or begin a new one, Townsend gives practical tools for establishing trust and finding the intimacy you long for.

Beyond Boundaries will help you reinstate closeness with someone who broke your trust; discern when true change has occurred; reestablish appropriate connections in strained relationships; create a safe environment that helps you trust; and restore former relationships to a healthy dynamic.

You can move past relational pain to trust again.

Beyond Boundaries will show you how.”

Dr. Townsend starts by discussing trust, the desire for a relationship, and the honeymoon period. The latter is needed, but you can’t remain in it. The real relational work happens when it’s over.

Then he defines two types of boundaries.

“Each kind of boundary has a distinct purpose. It’s important that you learn the difference, because defining boundaries should become permanent in your life, while protective boundaries are the ones you can move “beyond.” Defining boundaries are values that establish who you are and who you are not. They are at the core of your identity and reflect what you believe is important and valuable in life.”

“Protective boundaries are different. They are designed to “guard your heart” (Proverbs 4:23), and your life, from danger or trouble. There are times when you must protect your values, emotions, gifts, time, and energy from people and situations that may waste or injure them. Protective boundaries have several elements to them. You have to face the reality that talking hasn’t fixed a situation, and you have to set a limit. A protective boundary might begin with a statement like this: “I want us to work this out, but nothing I’ve said has made any difference, so I’m taking a different route.”

“A defining boundary is forever and unchangeable, part of what makes you “you”; a protective boundary can change if the other person responds to it in a healthy way.”

“You don’t let another person’s relational terrorism threats prohibit you from doing the right thing. The point is this: your boundaries will create a space, a separation, between you and someone in your life. That person will have a choice to either bridge the separation by making changes and becoming more loving or to increase the distance by moving further away or even leaving the relationship. You can do everything you can to glue things together, but you can never, in your own power, make a person stay with you.”

I have over ninety highlights in this book. The author goes on to sum up this line of thinking this way.

“Here is the point: wanting someone doesn’t mean you are crazy for having the desire, nor that the time is necessarily right to reconnect with the person. It is simply a sign that you are alive inside and that the boundary has given you breathing room to feel your human need for connection. Pay attention to it, be glad you are alive, and use good judgment and good people to help you decide what to do with it.”

Skipping a lot of highlights, I close with these two quotes. 

“Dare to be honest. Tell the truth. It is a value for you, but one that needs to be exercised in your life. Using it prevents you from trying to adjust reality in order to fit a bad situation. Once the truth is out, either you will help the other person change or you will face the matter squarely and adapt in a healthier way. And you will find that you are more attracted to people of the truth, the way you have become a person of the truth.”

“Be the kind of person you want to be attracted to. You will find that you are less and less drawn to people with difficult character issues and more desirous to find people who are full of grace, safety, acceptance, and a hunger to grow.”

I’m going to keep this post under a thousand words. This book gets 5 stars because it breaks everything down into four areas. They are understanding the problem, knowing when you’re ready, knowing when the other person is ready, and moving into a relationship. 

If you’re starting to think about restoring a relationship after setting a hard boundary on someone, read this book first. 

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