Long ago before I entered motherhood, I worked in the field of accounting. One of my favorite jobs was working for a Christian man starting his own business. I was his first official employee. One day he had me over to his house to discuss business (there was no office at the time). His exact words elude me now, but he mentioned something along the lines of only having me over if his wife was home. He wouldn’t let me be there alone with just him. At the time, I remember being inwardly offended. How dare he insinuate that I would ever do anything inappropriate? Many years later, I understand his need (and my need) for boundaries, and I greatly appreciate that he strived to never place me in a compromising situation even if I was naive of potential danger.
Our church occasionally has a large group go camping together. One time one of the men and myself and some of the kids were walking from one campsite back to my campsite. He stopped at the road at the driveway of my camping spot and said he’d wait there. His boundary was to not go into my campsite without my husband present. I wasn’t offended that time. Just surprised. And thankful. Another guy later on did go into my campsite even though Ryan wasn’t around. He probably had boundaries as well, but the first guy actually made me feel safer since his actions revealed he was aware of temptations, was on guard, and would enforce his boundary line.
One particular evening when my marriage was struggling through a bad season, I reached an all-time low. When I approached our counselor for help in a deserted hallway after a Wednesday night church service, he immediately moved us to a location where we were visible to others. That small, intentional, protective action made me feel incredibly safe in that vulnerable moment when contemplating danger hadn’t been on my radar.
Boundaries can be awkward, but they can save a whole lot of heartache. I highly recommend we recognize our huge propensity to veer off the straight and narrow and our great need for clear, cut boundaries. Better to face a little discomfort than a heap of devastation.
Men are not the only ones responsible for establishing boundaries. Ladies need to be proactive as well. After observing how my close friend’s husband devastated her family, I created boundaries in an attempt to avoid ever following in his destructive footsteps. Perhaps my boundary lines seem extreme to some, but I wanted protection from pitfalls I knew existed. (Matthew 5:27-30)
Sometimes a small change in protocol is sufficient. When I electronically communicate with a pastor, one of the additional recipients is either my husband or the pastor’s wife. This conscientious choice is a simple way I safeguard relationships that are important and necessary yet could easily become compromised. I Corinthians 10:12 says, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.”
Boundaries are encouraged in Proverbs 4:23-27: “Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you a deceitful mouth and put devious speech far from you. Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. Watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established. Do not turn to the right nor to the left; turn your foot from evil.”
The world is a dangerous place, but we can all make it safer by establishing some boundaries. If you don’t know where to start, ask your spouse, pastor, or close friend to help.
Be awkward. Stay safe!