Sunday, July 22, 2012

The First Law of Boundaries: The Law of Sowing and Reaping

So we begin to uncover the 10 Laws of Boundaries as uncovered by Drs. Cloud and Townsend in their (must read) book entitled “Boundaries: When to say yes and how to say no to take control of your life.”

Law # 1: The Law of Sowing and Reaping
To get this first law off the ground for us, I am going to quote directly from the book, page 86-87, so that the authors can best describe this law. “The law of cause and effect is a basic law of life. The Bible calls it the Law of Sowing and Reaping. You reap whatever you sow. If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit (Gal. 6:7-8). When God tells us that we will reap what we sow, he is not punishing us; he’s telling us how things really are.”

“If you smoke cigarettes, you will likely develop smoker’s hack, and you may even get lung cancer. If you overspend, you most likely will get calls from creditors, and you may even go hungry because you have no money for food. Other the other hand, if you eat right and exercise regularly, you may suffer from fewer colds and bouts with the flu. If you budget wisely, you will have money for the bill collectors and for the grocery store.”

But there are times when someone does not reap what they sow because someone else steps in and reaps the consequences for them. If every time you overcharged on your credit card and your parents paid off the balance for you, you wouldn’t reap the consequences of your overspending ways. Later on in life you may continue to repeat those poor spending habits to your detriment. We find this to be the case many times when parents are constantly bailing out their children over actions that demand consequences. Then the children grow up to be adults who continue the maladaptive actions.

People who continually rescue other people in these ways are referred to as codependent. As Cloud and Townsend say on page 87, "codependent people are people without boundaries who 'cosign the note' of life for the irresponsible person. Then they end up paying the bills and other person’s consequences – physically, emotionally, and spiritually – all the while the spendthrift person continues to rack up more debt and more problems without any consequences."

So what do you do? One of the best responses I know of is to try to discern that this law is at work in someone’s life. It is not wrong to help someone in need, to help pay for a utility bill or credit card bill, to fix someone’s car, to buy a tire, to help with some medicine, or to assist with baby sitting expenses. It is not wrong to help but it is wrong to remove the law of sowing and reaping from someone who has not learned these life lessons yet. How is one to know? Discernment from the Holy Spirit is a great start.

See you next month with law # 2!

Grace and Peace,
Dr. Trey 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Boundaries: When to say yes, how to say no to take control of your life

There is a book that I would like to STRONGLY recommend to you to purchase and read. It is called “Boundaries: When to say Yes, how to say No to take control of your life,” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. For the next several months I am going to be sharing from their chapter on the 10 laws of boundaries.

I believe the spiritual, psychological, and social construct of boundaries is vital to having healthy relationships in all aspects of life. “Any confusion of responsibility and ownership in our lives is a problem of boundaries. Just as homeowners set physical property lines around their land, we need to set mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual boundaries for our lives to help us distinguish what is our responsibility and what isn’t. And this is one of the most serious problems facing Christians today. Many sincere, dedicated believers struggle with tremendous confusion about when it is biblically appropriate to set limits” (Cloud & Townsend, p.27-28).

We are continually asked by life to do more, accept more, take on more, and all with limited resources or with limited abilities. This puts a tremendous stress on individual systems, family systems, and larger corporate systems. There have to be some limits on what an individual, family, or larger system can take without breaking or otherwise being harmed.

Starting next month and following, I will be sharing from the 10 Laws of Boundaries, which is chapter 5 of the book if you are so interested in reading for yourself. I am a strong proponent of setting limits in capacities because I know the resources that are used in my life are limited. I can only handle so much psychological, emotional, physiological and even spiritual pressure before I begin to breakdown or collapse.
I also think it is important to know how and when to say NO. I remember Nancy Reagan coming out with the Just Say No program back in the 1980’s. In the 21st century, life makes it really difficult to say no. If you say no to something in church, then you are disappointing God. If you say no to a family request, then you risk disappointment by a family member. If you say no at work, then you risk losing your job. If you say no in a relationship then you risk rejection by that person. And so, we grow up with having to say yes to anything and everything and made to feel guilty by society for not complying or setting limits to what we can or cannot accomplish.

The definition of anxiety is the sense of impending doom. Anxiety can cause all sorts of reactions and responses. Treatment for anxiety is to help the individual or family system look towards healthier coping mechanisms for dealing with stressors, improving communication with self/others, and restoring a sense of well-being established in what is rational, known, understood, and felt. Anxiety results, for the most part, from dents/breaks in our boundaries. We begin to let ourselves be ruled by fear, constant worry, fueled by the unknowns and what-ifs rather than taking the time to acknowledge what is attacking us and considering an appropriate response.

Go get the book. I recommend this book second to the Bible, and coming from me that is a strong recommendation. Begin to read about how to start (or continue) establishing appropriate and healthy limits in your capacities for your health and the health of your relationships.

Grace and Peace,

Dr. Trey