Looking for Mutual Respect?
I remember the first time a boundary of mine was crossed by a friend. I didn’t recognize it for what it was at the time, but I see it clearly now.
We were sitting in the theater, around age nine, and I had a box of candy. Over half the box was in my hand, because it was noisy to open the box out and dump them. As I sat and ate my Junior Mints, I realized my friend might want one. She didn’t have any money, so I was nice and shared. I whispered, “Hey, do you want some?” I held my hand out, piled high with the little brown orbs of peppermint yumminess.
I thought she’d take a few and be thankful.
She proceeded to scoop them off of my hand and into both of hers.
I was surprised. Shocked. Confused. Angry. I couldn’t believe she had done that. I wanted to say, “HEY. I meant like a few of them! What’s wrong with you?”
But I said nothing, because I was afraid I would upset her. And I didn’t have any experience with exercising my voice – I thought the only option I had was voicing my anger. And that seemed mean (at least I knew that), so I kept my mouth shut.
I spent the rest of the movie feeling sad about my three leftover pieces in the box, and lied to myself that it was all fine. I knew something was wrong, but didn’t know what.
Here’s the thing – it wasn’t about the candy.
It was about being taken advantage of by another, even unintentionally, and failing to speak the truth. I didn’t respect myself.
This is an important step in growth, because to live in denial or fail to speak our truth consistently is to undermine our ability to see what is true about ourselves. What’s often true is that we have pieces of ourselves we cannot see. They might be visible to others, they might not be. What is 100% true, is that they are always visible to God. So today, we’re asking God to peel off our blinders, and do a little self-evaluation about respect. You have the Biblical Wife one if you have The Respect Dare book. If you feel like you don’t know much about respecting yourself, then this will help today.
First, however, let’s talk about boundaries.
We need to understand that boundaries are NOT:
- parental, where we start acting like someone else’s mother
- punishment, where we are disciplining or punishing someone else
- controlling, so we can get what we want
Boundaries are, however, important because they are the “living out” of our basic moral beliefs.
Boundaries are the foundation of healthy relationships. Clear boundaries provide trust because we know what others will or won’t do, and the same goes for ourselves. When that is missing, the relationship is unstable, uncertain, and that causes a natural lack of trust.
They are also not going to protect us or lead us to joy 100% of the time. That’s an unfortunate truth as well, but we forget that we aren’t perfect, and we forget to focus on our own behaviors and sometimes our own wounding gets in the way of mature behavior and we blame someone else or own their emotional state as our responsibility. Relationships where both people do not have healthy boundaries eventually often destroy trust & lasting love. Relationships, where both people do have healthy boundaries, are often more satisfying, however.
For a person to practice respect and love for others, we first have to recognize a number of things:
- To the degree that I respect/love myself, I am capable of respect & love for others.
- If I have limits to what I will or won’t do, I’m seen as worthy of respect, and am perceived as a person of character by other people – we teach others how to treat us.
- To the degree that I allow others to walk all over me (no limits) my respect/love for myself and the way others respect/love me is diminished.
- Anger, contempt, disdain, or parental condescension is a relationship-damaging way of communicating boundaries.
- Gentleness and patience, both fruits of the Spirit, are the best way to communicate about boundaries.
- The laws of nature, cause and effect, reaping and sowing, action results in an equal and opposite reaction, if violated, diminish the growth opportunities for others and communicate disrespect.
- I will have trouble with my boundaries and difficulty respecting those of other people in areas where I am wounded or immature.
Let’s see how we’re doing in this area of having boundaries. I’ve compiled the following self-assessment about boundaries. It’s a work in progress, so please feel free to contact me and give feedback if you see something missing or too much of another. Please put a check mark next to the following self-evaluation opportunities for you:
Respectful Boundaries Self-Evaluation
- I have a strong concept of what I will and will not do, based on Biblical knowledge.
- I respect myself by setting boundaries for myself, not in an effort to control other people’s behavior.
- When I’m not clear about what should be okay or not (respectful boundary for myself or someone else), I research it in the Bible, or ask someone who is wise for advice.
- My “yes” means, “yes,” and my “no” means, “no.” I don’t say things I don’t mean or agree to do things that are not right for me to do.
- I don’t judge myself for making decisions that other people do not like.
- My important relationships are “reciprocal” in nature, meaning both of us give and receive in generally equal and meaningful ways.
- I know what tempts me and I respect myself enough to set boundaries to protect myself from temptation, including choosing to be around people that encourage me to become more with my life
- My thoughts and behaviors are driven from a deep core of moral integrity as opposed to concerns about other people’s opinions of me
- I believe I am the only person responsible for most of the outcomes in my life – I am in charge of my thoughts and what I do and don’t do
- I understand my weaknesses and set boundaries to strengthen myself.
- I respect and trust my ability to make the right decisions, ones that honor God, respect myself and others, in most situations.
- I am aware of and respect other people’s boundaries and do not cross them or provide temptation to encourage others to cross their own boundaries.
- I respect other people’s right to say, “no,” or “yes,” without judgment or pressuring them to do something else.
- I understand that the bad behavior of other people has consequences that are theirs to own and not mine to fix.
- It is easy for me to be around people who are in a bad mood and not try to cheer them up.
- I own my own negative states of mind without blaming others for them (in other words, I use, “I’m feeling such and such because I think…” using I-language statements instead of, “So-and-so did xyz/thinks abc, so now I’m feeling abc/ I have to do xyz so that they think/feel/will or won’t do abc.”)
- I respect another’s negative state of mind and do not feel responsible for fixing how they feel. I am able to act like myself regardless of their behavior or the people I am around.
- I allow others to make mistakes and decisions I disagree with, supporting the person without criticizing or complaining, or saying, “I told you so.”
- I do not enable self-destructive behavior that damages me or my relationships by covering, hiding, avoiding, ignoring, or tolerating.
- I engage in “proactive boundaries” when problems are small instead of waiting for a “reactive boundary” when things are out of control.
- I respect myself and others enough to gently communicate my boundaries when they are violated.
- I am aware of and evaluative of the pain my self-respect and boundaries cause others.
- I do not label myself as a victim, but rather take ownership of the results of choices I’ve made, even ones where I did my best but didn’t know other options.
- I am gentle with myself when I look at the mistakes I make.
- My boundaries are not parental in nature, designed to “punish” others for “bad” behavior, not things I place on someone else, but rather choices I make for what I will or won’t do in certain circumstances.
- My boundaries are designed to bring joy to my relationships.
- I have an interest I pursue outside of what my family is interested in.
- I respect myself enough to rest when I am tired, eat when I am hungry, and recharge myself when I need to by doing things I enjoy.
What about you?
- Did the discussion or assessment impact how you thought about either concept?
- What will be the specific benefit to you for reconsidering how you view boundaries?
Feel like you are lacking in boundaries and need some guidance? Our Strength & Dignity eCourse is getting set up for a new journey group – We’ll start soon. It may not be something that fits for you, but most of the women that join us say it helps them grow in their confidence and changes the dynamics in their marriage.
If you are interested, here’s the link to sign up or find out more.
I have been searching for years for the material you have here, the way God is leading us through you. And honestly, it’s an incredible relief. The work is hard. It’s a faith journey. But this is the true gospel here. I’m falling more in love with Jesus. And I’m letting Him love me. This course is reaching the deep places of my heart.