Guarding Your Boundaries

The other day, while grocery shopping, I turned down an aisle and faced a roadblock. A two-year-old boy was flinging around on his back. If I were deaf, I may have thought he was in the middle of a seizure, but my ears were working well and I immediately recognized it as a temper-tantrum.

The mom, at her wits-end, grabbed him off the floor and forcefully put him in the shopping cart. He squealed loud and she barked louder (figuratively that is). Twenty years ago my heart would have been with the kid, Poor little guy. What a mean mommy.

However, today it was with the mom. I now have kids and have been there and done that. My busy schedule, lack of sleep and responsibilities had collided and it pushed me over the limit. My patience flew out the door and I said and did things I later regretted.

I continued walking and another shopper who had witnessed the event pulled up next to me, “It’s amazing how many bad parents there are out there today!”

I could see how she would think this but I too have had meltdowns in the milk aisle but didn’t consider myself a bad mom. I was just a woman who had neglected her boundaries.

My family may not describe me as “balanced” because I’m easily distracted. It’s a constant struggle and I have to work at saying “no”. But here are three things that have helped me throughout the day.

1)   Beginning – In the morning I begin with prayer, breathing and gratitude. I sit silently before God, ask the Holy Spirit to show me my goals for the day and thank God for the many ways He’s blessed me. This grounds me for the day and syncs my mind and heart.

2)   Middle – Throughout the day I try to focus on the non-negotiables – a lesson my hubby taught me. I prioritize and put them on top of my “to do” list. At the end of the day I can go to bed with peace knowing I didn’t neglect what is most important.

3)   End – Turn it off before it’s too late. I’m a horrible sleeper and often neglect sleep due to too much screen time (smart phone included). However, I’ve found that the experts are correct (go figure) – screen time does mess up sleep time. I have to discipline myself to turn off the phone, computer, and TV by a certain time – for me it’s 2 hours before sleep. These things feed my mind with thoughts and ideas when my mind needs to be settling down.

These steps won’t necessarily widen your boundaries but they can protect them and enable you to better handle the stress of your day.

I once heard Andy Stanley share the analogy comparing boundaries to a stage. When we stand on the edge of a stage, with little or no boundary, we can easily be pushed off. But, if we have room, we can leverage ourselves and stand firmer.

Without boundaries we fall and we hurt our self and others. Life’s no fun when it’s filled with regret.

How do you protect your boundaries?

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